Locals react to Zimmerman verdict, aftermath

When Jim Jackson turned on his TV Saturday night, he was seeking evidence of change.
Alissa Widman
Jul 17, 2013

But as he observed a slew of unforeseen updates regarding a contentious trial verdict, the president of the local NAACP chapter said he felt nothing less than a slap in the face.

“A verdict like this shows nothing has changed too much from the 1950s,” Jackson said Monday. “The local black community is outraged. We’re stunned. And we have a right to be.”   

This past weekend, a jury acquitted a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer of all charges against him in the killing of a teenager this past year. He could have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter. 

The man, George Zimmerman, shot an unarmed 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, in what he claimed was an act of self-defense. Others claimed Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, racially profiled Martin, a black teen who was walking home from a convenience store on a rainy February night.       

A jury of six deliberated for more than 15 hours and determined Saturday that Zimmerman’s claims were justified. The polarizing decision has ignited passionate responses nationwide regarding racial profiling, state gun laws and what constitutes self-defense. 

Some have said the case isn’t a race issue, but to Jackson, the situation’s racial implications are impossible to ignore.   

“Try to imagine the situation reversed, if a black man shot a white teenager on his way home in his neighborhood,” Jackson said. “There would be outrage among everyone. What it comes down to is the question: ‘Is racism dead in America?’ Obviously it’s not.”   

The NAACP has called for the U.S. Department of Justice to open a civil rights case against Zimmerman. The justice department said Sunday it’s looking into the case to determine whether it should do so.

The NAACP has created an online petition to the department, which it’s promoting on its website, www.naacp.org. Most local NAACP members have signed it. Despite the petition and outcry, many local individuals, including those practicing law, contend the federal ruling was correct.   

“It’s easy to second-guess others, but we weren’t in the courtroom nor on the street,” said Kenneth R. Bailey, an attorney in Sandusky. “I have faith that the jury’s verdict of actual innocence is accurate.”   

An arrest doesn’t mean an individual is guilty, which is the mindset of many Americans following divisive trials, Bailey said. In this instance, Bailey acknowledged injustice is still alive, regardless of the verdict.   

“Mr. Zimmerman will be followed by the shadow of this case for the rest of his life,” Bailey said. “Meanwhile, the Martin family will never be reunited with their son. Nobody received justice.”   

Chris Knople, a Norwalk resident who spoke about the case Monday after responding to one of the Register’s Facebook posts, said he believes people should “trust the jury followed the letter of the law” and stop making uninformed decisions regarding the case, including rioting and citing racism.   

“In the days to follow, I’m going to be interested in seeing if Zimmerman is pursued by the justice department,” Knople said. “Will it be because of pressure from the public and Washington D.C., or will it be because actual charges exist? We shall see.”

 

George Zimmerman case highlights

George Zimmerman's trial in the shooting death of teen Trayvon Martin was nearly three weeks long and concluded Saturday night with an acquittal on all charges. The ruling on the Florida case unleashed debate nationwide concerning racial profiling, self-defense, gun laws and equal justice.

•The verdict: George Zimmerman, who identifies as Hispanic, was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who is black. The jury could have considered manslaughter charges for Zimmerman but declined doing so.

•The jury: The case's judge issued an anonymity order for the six jurors during the trial, so their names have not been made public. They delivered their verdict Saturday after 15 hours of deliberation.

•President's response: The White House doesn't typically respond to trials not involving the president or federal government, but it issued a rare statement Sunday about the Zimmerman trial. In the statement, President Barack Obama said "we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken," but also called Martin's death a tragedy and acknowledged the strong passions it elicited nationwide.

•Looking forward: Zimmerman left the courthouse this weekend as a free man with no charges. The NAACP has called for the U.S. Department of Justice to open a civil rights case against Zimmerman. The department said Sunday it's looking into the case to determine whether it should do so.

 

Friendly chatter

The Register asked some of its Facebook friends for their opinions on the trial verdict:

•Shari Miller: The jury made the decision. If anyone is unhappy with it then they should be mad at the jury. It is what it is.

•Robert Vanwhy: It's messed up how someone can kill an innocent kid and get away with it and an innocent woman fires warning shots to protect herself and she gets 20 years. That's one messed up system down there.

•Jon Adams: Poor George Zimmerman has to fear for his life. In a fit of hilarity George's brother worried that "someone might take the law into his own hands!"

•Kimberly Slater-Price: Very happy!

•Shaun Bickley: It should have never went to trial. Zimmerman never committed any crime. The police would not press charges, then politically 44 days after the event, the special prosecutor charged him ... Total crap!

•Tim Stang: Time to move on, folks. Nobody won in this tragedy.

•Kari Hamer: Enough with the race war. Tragedies happen every day to many different races, not all black and white.

•Dianne Trout: I am not convinced that he is not guilty. Why would you take a gun outside in a residential area with the safety off if you were not premeditating something?

•Dionne Amison: Not one of you would say say "time to move on" or "get over it" if it had been your 17-year-old child that had been racially profiled, followed, chased down and then gunned down like an animal.

•Tiffany England: None of this would have been about race if the media didn't make it that way. Nothing makes any sense in America anymore.

 

Comments

xtensionofme

A young man’s post on Facebook about Zimmerman’s future says it best:

“For the rest of your life you are now going to feel what its like to be a black man in America,” Alex Fraser wrote.

“You will feel people stare at you. Judging you for what you think are unfair reasons. You will lose out on getting jobs for something you feel is outside of your control. You will believe yourself to be an upstanding citizen and wonder why people choose to not see that. …

“I bet you never thought that by shooting a black male you’d end up inheriting all of his struggles.”

Fraser added, “Enjoy your ‘freedom.’”

I couldn't agree more!

Mystery_Cheese

I find it slightly absurd that some African-American's think they are the only people that struggle in life. That they are the only ones persecuted for being different. There are racists on all sides of the color spectrum. By acting as though your color is always the victim, you'll never see past the colors. You'll always succumb to the same thing that you're raging against.

Julie R.

BEST COMMENT: xtensionofme

KnuckleDragger

Actually, considering the number of people who believe the trial was a sham, forced for political reasons, it will probably be the other way around. Even if it doesn't it won't matter, he stands to make millions off the lawsuit against the TV network that doctored the tape of the phone call.

The Big Dog's back

AAAAAAAmen xtensionofme.

IT'S ME

People like Jim Jackson, Al Sharpton, & Jessie Jackson live off of racism. They have to keep stirring the pot, that's how they make a living! Without racism they don't collect a paycheck, so they try and create it anyway they can.

dontknowmuch

Amen....

middleclassworker

AAAAAAAmen!!

The Big Dog's back

People like rush windbag, sean hannity, mark levin, live off racism.

Mystery_Cheese

I can't stand any of them either. However, Sharpton, Jackson, and the Black Panthers do as well. Be fair if you're calling out one race of people on racism, since the other side also has plenty of racists. Realize that collectivism is always wrong, and individualism is always the right way. Protecting the individual inherently protects the rights of a group. Protecting the group could eventually infringe on the rights of the individual. You seem like the collectivist type.

Darwin's choice

Big Dog, You don't care whose hiney you're licking, do you?

JudgeMeNot

Not one bit.

CAST THE FIRST STONE

the racist dog is back.

ladydye_5

Yet another story by the Register to keep stirring the POT. Until the MEDIA quits rewording the same story to make people mad this will never end.

The Big Dog's back

Who's mad?

CAST THE FIRST STONE

you live for stuff like this.. look what they did to us

Swiftshot

I actually agree with you. This is a story that should settle down before stirring the pot

VTX Rider

Mr. Jackson,

I too feel it is a slap in the face every time a person of color is acquitted of a crime against a person of non-color (for lack of a better term!) Are you serious!

At the end of the day there are many lives changed for ever.

Unassumer

a person of color wasn't acquitted here. a person of color was killed and his killer was acquitted. but it's still a slap in the face.

VTX Rider

Yes, I understand that. I was being sarcastic!!!!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you Ken and Chris for your statements that aren't divisive, insulting, nor replacing contemporary facts with blanket emotion based sixty years ago.

Mr. Jackson, I personally feel your words backed up by your station in the community at large let alone the specific group you lead were hurtful and not in the spirit of what it is the organization you lead intends to do - a mission with which I can very much agree!

As the leader of a community in the year 2013, and I am referencing myself here but not claiming to speak on their behalf with this post, perhaps I can visit with you and discuss what is being done in today's world to reach the goals that your organization seeks. I can provide you hope, I assure you, and maybe offer tips on how to better market your ideals.

I won't espouse to have all the answers and I am certainly not a perfect human being as you aren't either, but if there can be some outreach to avoid blanketed statements like the one that opened this story we can all advance as a people regardless of...anything. Words like the ones you use can certainly create dispassion, disinterest, and perpetuate division.

Those are three qualities which are counter-intuitive to the goals of the NAACP. I presume, of course, without being a member myself. Maybe I am wrong? There is room to enlighten me as well.

The Good Doctor

With all due respect, it is "not emotion based on 60 years ago", but the reality of 2013. If we truly lived in a post-racial society, Zimmerman would never have stalked Martin. The jury never considered evidence that Zimmerman had called the police scores of times during the year prior to the night on which he killed Martin and ALL of his calls were about "suspicious" black males. The judge refused to allow the prosecution to call Zimmerman's actions as racial profiling, which would have been an accurate description.

The police made significant errors, the prosecution was subpar and, based on comments attributable to the juror who had planned on writing a book, the jury was confused and did not understand the differences between murder 2 and manslaughter.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

In regards to the reality you set forth, and asked with the same (and appreciated given some of the other commenters in other threads) respect: So what's the measure? The end? When can I stop being blanket-grouped in with actual, vocal, practicing racists who are in a severe minority of the entire population? Must we go 10 years without any kind of interracial incident - purposeful, accidental, or otherwise? 20 years?

I who am surrounded by non-forced, authentic diversity every day am tired of these wide nets and hence my remarks toward Mr. Jackson. Reading this article I almost stopped as "oh...it's THIS again" regarding the first paragraph and I may as well have been reading another story about the Westboro Baptist Church and the parade of ignorance they put on display. A reason I do still read those articles is to see that they got their comeuppance in the end by people of rational, enlightened thinking. That was consistent in this article and I was appreciative of that.

While I have never met Mr. Jackson (that I know of?), the reason why I am so disappointed is because I actually would hold the first impression that he is intelligent, charismatic, thoughtful, and possesses the leadership qualities necessary to head an organization like this. The quotes (if he was misquoted then please let me know) however paint a different picture and it saddened me. We all want to believe in people, to share in a vision greater than any one of us, and yet there are always moments where those expectations fall flat.

Going beyond racism, the true issue of ignorance will forever be a part of every culture everywhere. Ignorant statements made about/from ignorant people even. Remarks that ripple outward and act as much in the aggregate as powerfully as any single barrier. That was my concern with the statements. If Mr. Jackson was speaking just for himself or as some anonymous person here that is one thing, but I found the choice of words to completely backtrack my understood goals of the organization he leads. Which is a shame as I stated I think the advancement of people, culture, etc. is vital to our continued survival as a species.

grumpy

If what you said was true, and could be proved, they would have been said during the trial. The prosecutor couldn't prove that Zimmerman "stalked" Martin, so the prosecutor couldn't say that, he had to say followed.

They couldn't prove that every person Zimmerman called cops about was a suspicious black, or that Zimmerman said they were black, even though all those calls are recorded, so that was not able to be used in court since you can't use what you haven't proved. The exception to that is during closing arguments where the lawyers can use conjecture.

The cops didn't find evidence to bring the charges that were brought to court. The jury might have convicted Zimmerman if the prosecutor had charged him with something that the evidence showed he was guilty of. The prosecutor overcharged. They should have looked at what evidence they had and charged Zimmerman with what they could prove.

If you wish to complain about the case, do so about the prosecutor who supposedly knew what evidence was available and shot herself in the foot by overcharging.

deertracker

@ The Good Doctor
Agreed!

The Big Dog's back

You would non-hero.

grumpy

You are 100% correct in that statement. I am like 99.9% of the people. Unlike you who is a hero typing away on his computer making claims about how he isn't forced to avoid confrontations and isn't a wuss. I see many people who make claims of not being a wuss all the time (not really but then we must make allowances for the piddle puppy, he is, after all a hero... in his mind, see how he stands up on the internet?)

The Big Dog's back

Shows what an ego you have pooh since I was talking to hero zone.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I am not quite sure I got what grumpy said aside from taking a swipe at you. I think he may have tried to defend me? I keep rereading it and don't quite put it together.

That aside I am not upset you called me a name (I suppose it is a rite of passage in these forums) but can I please get a better one than non-hero? Zero Zone maybe? Hell-no Zone? Hero Zit?

You can also call me "friend" (even sarcastically) since I don't hold animosity toward you.

grumpy

doubled

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