Zimmerman trial: No justice for the black man

Published: July 24, 2013
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Martin got shot by a Hispanic man named George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, in what is presumed by many as cold-blooded murder. PHOTO: AFP

Post civil rights movement America is still coming to grips with the rich ethnic diversity it assimilates. The courtroom pursuits led by six jury members on the State of Florida vs George Zimmerman case are deemed racially motivated by many across the US. 

In 1931, nine black homeless people were wrongly charged by the ‘prejudiced’ Alabama court of allegedly raping two white ladies on a railroad tram. This triggered the black community into taking to the streets, backed by the communist party that highlighted its ephemeral presence as a third political force in the US. The court’s verdict that left an indelible blotch on the American judicial system is remembered by many as the Scottsboro tragedy.

82 years down the lane that tragedy seems to have surfaced in the form of Trayvon Martin’s case verdict.

In retaliation, the protesters have gathered momentum from Florida to Los Angeles and New York, expressing their solidarity towards Trayvon Martin, a black American high school student. Martin got shot by a Hispanic man named George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, in what is presumed by many as cold-blooded murder. This claim is somewhat substantiated with the background screams calling out for help in a 911 call.

After 16 hours of deliberation on July 12, 2013, the jury acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges. A highly revered American judicial system has once again been put under the scanner by the agitating public that is gaining strength by every passing day. Civil rights leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have also been vociferous towards the cause.

As many still believe that a black American’s civil rights have been violated, a cavalcade of celebrities have also joined in. P Diddy and Jamie Fox tweeted pictures wearing hoodies to show their support for Trayvon Martin, who was wearing a hoodie that tragic night. Barack Obama and New York mayor Micheal Bloomberg have been the most vocal among politicians. In fact, Obama’s empathy towards Martin has not gone down well with some factions across the US.  A federal grand jury might be called to restore some sanity, as the department of justice has taken the matter under their control for further review.

With already flexible NRA laws, the ‘shoot first’ law enacted in the State of Florida projects dangerous vigilantism and engenders a trigger happy culture. Things don’t look rosy on the surface as one of the jurors involved in the case publicly suggested that it is the duty of every American to wield a weapon for their security. The audio of the 911 call made by George Zimmerman, suggests that he was armed when he followed his prey with the intentions of pulling the trigger, despite warnings from the dispatcher to stop following Martin. Tensions have brewed ever since. The New Black Panthers party has even issued a bounty of $10,000 for the capture of Zimmerman, which has amplified racial hostility a few notches. The video, however, offering the bounty is from 2012 and has resurfaced due to the Trayvon trial.

A naked eye can find semblance between the current snowballing ruckus and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Rodney King was the victim in 1993’s controversial Los Angeles court decision of acquitting four police officers from all charges despite having evidence of a handy cam made video that clearly showed the four LAPD officers maiming King with batons. That incident spurred racial outrage, hurling the black community into riots and vandalism.

One can only hope that things do not escalate to that level and eventually sanity prevails. The most apt call to appease all protesting ethnicity across America at this critical juncture would be a repeat of Rodney King’s famous plea…

“Can we all get along?”

Follow Asad on Twitter @asadkahlon

Asad Mustafa Kahlon

Asad Mustafa Kahlon

A social entrepreneur and minority rights advocate, who likes to write. He blogs at asadmustafa15.wordpress.com and tweets as @asadkahlon

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hamza Khan

    The Black people in America are like the non Muslims in Pakistan.Though the black community has far more rights in America than the non muslim in pakistan but the Black people still face discrimination.Atleast one of their members can become the president of the country but here in pakistan no non muslim can become the president or prime minister as per the laws of our country.Recommend

  • Salma aziz

    What about no justice for non-muslims in Pakistan?Atheists,hindus,christians,ahmadis face systematic discrimination and marginalisation in our society.No one raises their voices for their rights.We should be more worried about how we mistreat our minorities.
    Atleast the Black Americans can get elected to become the President of their country,can we say the same about non-muslims in Pakistan? Will there ever be a day when an openly atheist person will be the president or prime minister of Pakistan?Recommend

  • Tahira

    Dear blogger,where’s the outrage over how non Muslims are treated in our own country.You seem to be more worried about what’s happening in a far off land.Why your silence over the hate and abuse directed the way of Non Muslims in the land of the pure.Silence over what is happening in one’s own land and outrage over foreign happenings is rather saddening.Recommend

  • Shakila Anjum

    @SalmaAziz
    Anyone who publicly declares being an atheist can’t survive in the islamic republic of pakistan.How can you dream of an atheist being the president/prim minister of pakistan?We murder our atheists in Pakistan,we have draconian laws that serve to protect the barbarity of the religious fanatics.No atheist will ever become the president of our country,he/she will be murdered very earlier in the electoral process.This is country which protects and serves the interests of the religious only.Recommend

  • Fawad

    This country was made in the name of religion so there’s no reason in an atheist becoming the Prime Minister of this country. Killing minorities should be condemned and all rights should be given equally as a citizen of Pakistan but I don’t agree in giving rights to non Muslims to lead ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN. Recommend

  • http://swell m16

    no justice for the white baby in usa
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9a8_1374131157Recommend

  • SM

    Its just a bit comic if not ironic when Pakistanis complain about how “unjust” is the US justice system. This is a country where the only terrorist that was prosecuted was Dr. Shakil Afridi, the man who found OBL, despite the daily bomb blasts and other terror incidents that are simply too many to count to remember. If the Swiss complain then its understandable, but Pakistan, really? Recommend

  • Russian

    I really have to admire Pakistanis for their audacity to point flaws in other societies when their own citizens are mistreated just for the sole reason they don’t belong to Sunni sect of Islam. Recommend

  • Russian

    @Fawad and you have the gall to call someone Islamophobic when they discriminate and mistreat you. Hypocrite. People like you should be put in dungeons where one kind of people exist. Recommend

  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    Nice article Asad… Injustice is injustice no matter where it happens,, comments in this thread have reminded me of comments in a similar article about Ahmadis in Pakistan… There, Islamic Fascists were pointing out the atrocities done by Israel, America etc. and here our Liberal Fascists are dying with pain on how come the author dared to criticize USA while ignoring the injustice in Pakistan…
    The world certainly would have been a lot more peaceful place if somebody had taken care of these Fascists.. Liberal and Pro-religion both Recommend

  • bangash

    At least a free and fair trial was held. Pakistan cannot even provide that to its citizens.Recommend

  • usman

    COME ON: In his blog, he just tries to inform about a particular case in USA……. Pakistan bashing starts. Tomorrow if blogs comes about differences on naming of Royal Baby within royal family, I am sure many commentators starts condemning Pakistan Recommend

  • josiah

    Your article is a joke. You compare the Trayvon Martin case to the worst types of racial injustice of the American past as if they are synonymous. They are not. You argue that celebrities and the Obamas staunchly support Martin’s family, as if that means anything. In the face of evidence, personal opinion means nothing. You address how Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been vocal about this issue as if that matters. It doesn’t. Both have a long history of pouncing on black vs other issues, and scream racism. And they do it without knowing or caring for facts. Think the Duke Lacrosse team rape case a few years back, when it turned out the black “victim” lied, about everything. And where are these two “leaders” when it comes to black on black violence?
    Zimmerman, a hispanic man, not a white man, was raised in a multicultural home, lived in a multicultural neighborhood, and has a history of helping people, like in an instance where a black homeless man was beaten, and Zimmerman kept the case alive and in the public eye by posting fliers around to get justice for the victim.
    Martin was not the cherub he was portrayed as. The most published pictures of him show him at 12 years old, not as the 17 year old he was. A boy who studied mixed martial arts, enjoyed fighting, and loved the thug image of black America.
    And if Martin WAS profiled, so what? When you walk like a thug, talk like a thug, and act like a thug, you had best be ready to be treated like a thug.
    If Zimmerman had stayed in his truck, then Martin would not have died that night. Martin did not need to die that night, and that is why this case is a tragedy. But it is worth noting that it is not illegal to get out of your truck. It is not illegal to follow someone you think looks suspicious, and when you are on the ground, your attacker on top of you beating your head into the ground, it is not illegal to defend yourself with lethal force.

    You, sir, wrote an article based on hyperbole, not based on facts.Recommend

  • josiah

    @usman:
    in my reply (currently pending moderation) I did not address Pakistan once, because it was not the issue. Still. I understand why people do bring up Pakistan so much. If a Pakistani journalist from a Pakistani news source wishes to comment on what he thinks is wrong in an American court case, he is opening the floodgates for counter criticism against his own nation’s court system. People who use the opportunity just to say hateful things are a waste of time, but some people make valid points.Recommend

  • Ben

    It’s only in America that people can claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General and roughly 20% of the federal workforce is black while only 14% of the population is black. 40+% of all federal entitlements goes to black Americans 3X the rate that go to whites, 5X the rate that go to Hispanics! No justice for the black man? Wake up! Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    But Asad Mustafa Bhai ! here in Pakistan people are idolizing British and other developed countries’ judiciary system.Recommend

  • Saim

    Is it our headache or we have no headaches of ours?Recommend

  • Parvez

    The good thing about the American system ( judicial inclued) is that it has an inbuilt self correcting mechanism.
    Now since Pakistan has been brought up, I feel that we are still at a stage of trying to set up systems…………and failing miserably at it.
    Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Hamza Khan: The Black people in America are like the non Muslims in Pakistan

    President of US is a Black man. There is no comparison of Black Americans and non-Muslims in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Valerie Redanz

    I am not familiar with the status of non-Muslims in Pakistan but from your posts I am sure the situation is not a good one. What I can offer this conversation as a black female that grew up in the deep South is a possible reason I am not aware of the situation you refer to. Injustice and human rights is a universal concern. The war against the racism in America that prevented blacks from having the rights of citizenship was fought on many fronts, by many different people, of many different ethnicities. However when you narrow your appeal to only your specific group to the exclusion of other groups you have defeated yourself. I am not a Muslim and I never plan to be anything but a Christian but if your experiences are like mine I can understand and I can act on your behalf with the government in my own country. God bless. Recommend

  • Valerie Redanz

    @josiah:

    You are very wrong when you say what the black people in America have to say about the Trayvon Martin case does not matter.
    Wrong again when you say it had nothing to do with racial injustice. You are just as wrong as the people who beat and sprayed the black citizens in the fifties for exercising their civil right to eat at a lunch counter, or who put Rosa Parks in jail for not giving her seat to the white man when he demanded it. Because you see, those acts were against the law at the time as well. the police beat and put those black people in jail because there were laws that stated it was illegal for them to exercise their rights as citizens. Trayvon Martin had a right to stand his ground as well when Zimmerman approached him from behind, in the dark, as only a coward would after being told not to follow him by the police. Recommend

  • Valerie Redanz

    @Ben:
    Can you post your sources for that information?Recommend

  • Mia

    For the love of God, CALM DOWN, people. The author never said that non-Muslims aren’t oppressed in his article. He just wanted to write about a story that has been creating a lot of hype around the world recently.

    You are no different from the stupid people who write “Forget Malala, how about drone attacks???” when someone writes against the Taliban. Take it easy and stop lecturing others for once.Recommend

  • csmann

    @josiah:
    You mean to say it is ok to start following-stalking- somebody ,with a loaded gun who has not harmed you or your property or anybody’s property,and simply walking to his home.on a street that is public property,incite them into a fight ,and then kill him without even warning that he has a gun.
    Even police just observes from their vehicles when following a suspicious person. He acted the police after having been told not to follow the kid,whereas he could have watched staying in his vehicle.Recommend

  • josiah

    @Valerie Redanz:
    there is a major issue with what you said, and that is simply this: Zimmerman did nothing illegal. It is NOT illegal to carry a gun you own legally with a concealed carry license. It is NOT illegal to follow someone you think is suspicious. It is NOT illegal to disregard police advice over the phone line, as the police can NOT command you to do something. And it is NOT illegal to defend your life.
    Do you know that it is policy for 911 operators to advise people to do nothing, no matter what the call is about? If Zimmerman had called because he thought Martin was drowning, and told operators he was going in after him, they would have advised him to wait for the police and paramedics. That is simply how they do things.
    More to the point, Zimmerman did not approach Martin with his gun drawn, nor did he shoot him from a distance like one would when hunting an animal. He walked over to Martin, and Martin attacked him, knocked him to the ground, sat astride him, and continued to hit him. Testimony from witnesses back this up, Martin’s well documented history of fighting makes this a likely scenario (Zimmerman has no history in trying to scare kids off with guns), and from Zimmerman’s and Martin’s wounds, forensics experts agree Martin was on top and was the aggressor.
    If Zimmerman did not get out of his truck Martin would not have died that night. When you consider the fact that Zimmerman is now the “most hated” man in America, and his family is in hiding because of threats on their lives, I think it’s fair to say that no one knows that better than he does. But let’s be honest here. Martin DID commit a crime that night. Assault. ZImmerman approached him, and he hit Zimmerman. You can scream how this related to civil rights all you wish, but it doesn’t. Recommend

  • josiah

    @csmann:
    There was less than 100 yards from Zimmerman’s truck to Martin’s body. Following someone that short a distance is not stalking.
    If you have a concealed carry license for your legally owned gun, then yes, it is ok to have it on you.
    It was NOT a public street, it was inside a gated community, the Martin DID have the right to be in because he was staying with someone there, but Zimmerman did not know that. Why does that matter? There had been several break-ins and robberies in this community, and Martin was walking real slow, and it seemed he was checking out houses, according to what Zimmerman told police before he left his truck. As a neighborhood watch captain he saw it as a duty to keep an eye out for his neighbors, and to investigate potential threats.
    On issue with your argument is that there is no evidence he incited a fight. Martin, who studied MMA fighting and who had a history of fights (see his text message history) is more likely to have thrown the first punch.
    People love to say “If Zimmerman stayed in his truck this wouldn’t have happened!” but Zimmerman did nothing illegal by investigating. What people should be saying is “If Martin just talked to the man this wouldn’t have happened!” because assaulting someone IS illegal and evidence shows Martin attacked Zimmerman.
    Also, according to what Zimmerman told the police, after he was knocked down, after Martin was on top of him, and after Martin told him he was gonna die that night, Martin saw, and went for, his gun. He got to it first. There is no reason to think that story is a lie, because there is no evidence to the contrary.
    Yes, the police told him to stay where he was. I’m sorry, but that is NOT a legally binding command. You, Zimmerman, and anyone in America, has the RIGHT to investigate what they believe to be suspicious behaviour. No matter what the situation, 911 will always advise you to stay where you are. It’s policy. But no law says you must obey them.Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    A pathetic attempt towards self pacification and nothing else!!! The wise once said “fires at home seem trivial when compared to the neighbors house reduced to ashes”!
    Has the author written an article on the Hazaras? The Ahmeddiyas? The Bohri’s? The Shia’as?

    Great to be seeking warmth from the fire of a distant land, aren’t we???? Recommend

  • csmann

    @josiah:
    It is Zimmerman’s word against Trayvon’s, and Trayvon is dead.And a gated community’s road is still a public road.Was there a sign saying that anybody outside of that community was not supposed to be walking there,and that neighborhood -watch here is carrying loaded guns.?Recommend

  • ABKhan

    Most of the people cant even read an international news. They start dragging situation in Pakistan on everything. Its just a news for information. Grow up people and get educated!!!!!!!Recommend