"REMEMBER: EVERYTHING THAT HITLER DID WAS LEGAL"
WHAT A WORTHLESS FUCKING COWARD OBAMA IS!! WHAT A FEEBLE BULLSHIT RESPONSE TO TRAYVON'S MURDER. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MORE RESPECT LEFT FOR THIS GUTLESS IMPOSTER MASQUERADING AS A "NATIONAL LEADER." GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK! HE'S NOTHING BUT A FRAUD. "America is a nation of laws?" IS THAT SO BARACK? You mean as in slavery was legal and Jim Crow was legal and lynching was legal and discrimination and exclusionary behavior against women, children, and the LGBT community was legal?...You mean THOSE AMERICAN LAWS Barack?...ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Imagine if there was a long series of murders in which black males, whether as policemen or random psychotic citizens like Zimmerman were routinely stalking and killing unarmed white youth on a regular basis throughout the country like those endless racist murders of Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and hundreds of other gun murders by white racist cops and self appointed white vigilantes roaming the streets with loaded concealed weapons? "Stemming gun violence?" Are you or Congress going to do ANYTHING to stop and regulate the National Rifle Association (NRA) since they and their corporate sponsors, the gun manufacturers along with this country's absurd gun laws are primarily responsible for the George Zimmermans of the world running amuck in he streets of our cities? YOU'RE NOTHING BUT A SICK DEMENTED JOKE AT THIS POINT IN HISTORY BARACK...You mean to tell me you have have NOTHING to offer with regard to attacking racial profiling? NOTHING about the notoriously racist criminal justice system nationwide and its routinely criminal oppression, defamation, and exploitation of African American citizens? Nothing about the stark criminality and racist mendacity of "Stop and Frisk" laws and its relentless "legal" assaults on black youth and adults? Nothing?? NOTHING AT ALL???...YOU'RE CHICKENSHIT BARACK...AND A COWARD...JUST WORTHLESS!!!
Obama On George Zimmerman Verdict: 'Honor Trayvon Martin' By Stemming Gun Violence
Read Obama's full statement:
"The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin."
Click here to read more on the Zimmerman verdict.
UPDATE: 3:55 p.m.-- The Justice Department also released a statement Sunday on the Zimmerman verdict:
As the Department first acknowledged last year, we have an open investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin. The Department of Justice's Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial. Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department's policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial.
JULY 12, 2013
WHAT THE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL WAS ABOUT
POSTED BY JELANI COBB
[UPDATE: On Saturday, July 13th, George Zimmerman was acquitted and left the courtroom in Florida as a free man.]
A three-week long legal spectacle involving life-size human cutouts, a block of concrete, a forensic dummy, and a poorly considered knock-knock joke can be distilled down to two statements from the trial’s closing arguments: the prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda telling the jury that Trayvon Martin was dead because Zimmerman had profiled him as a criminal, and Mark O’Mara, one of George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys, saying that Trayvon Martin, unfortunately, fit the description of people arrested for burglaries in the retreat at Twin Lakes. The State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman is about many things: what constitutes self-defense, the echoing consequences of an increasingly armed public, the enduring and toxic way that race stains the most basic interactions. But, most fundamentally, it’s about what we’ve decided to do with our fear.
Before the trial began, Judge Deborah Nelson forbid use of the term “racial profiling” in the courtroom. At first, it seemed that the order would insure that throughout the trial race would be addressed the same way it was outside her courtroom—that is, by talking around it. Instead, it meant that by the closing arguments it was easier to recognize that race is just part of the problem. The logic of profiling itself is on trial.
Without a racial element the trial would never have happened. Not just because George Zimmerman, like so many others, probably wouldn’t have registered a white teen-ager as a criminal threat but also because a brew of vicarious grief, common experience, and the history of race in this country is what drove the crowds to don hoodies and gather around the country. It’s not simply that if President Obama had a son he’d look like Trayvon—it’s that millions of us have sons, brothers, and cousins who already do.
By degrees, we’ve accepted profiling as a central aspect of American life. Last month, I listened to Heather MacDonald, of the Manhattan Institute, argue that, though the N.Y.P.D.’s stop-and-frisk policy may be inconvenient for the many law-abiding black and Latino men it targets, it is ultimately necessary to make business owners feel safe. Surveillance has become a fact of life for unknown numbers of Muslims in this country. Our recent debates about the N.S.A. and the hazily expanding parameters of its surveillance programs center around this same question of profiling. If the majority of the public supports electronic eavesdropping, it’s because of the assumption that profiling will exclude them from suspicion. For anyone who’s known what it means to “fit the description,” the calculation is not nearly so simple.
There’s bad mathematics at the heart of this—a conflation of correlations and causations, gut instincts codified as public policy. To the extent that race factors into this equation, it’s in the way we selectively absolve, the way that no sum of actions by certain people quite reaches the bar of suspicion, the way that it becomes deceptively easy to surrender the civil liberties of others.
None of this could come up in closing arguments, yet it also seems certain that without understanding this idea we’ll reënact this drama at some future date under slightly different circumstances, but with a common pool of suspicions still present beneath the surface.
Throughout the sixteen-month-long saga that has led to a jury in Sanford, Florida deliberating the fate of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, repeatedly said that this case was not about race. That’s partly true. But it’s also true that we live in an era where we understand security as the yield of broadening suspicions, and that at our safest almost all of us are Trayvon Martin to someone else.
Read more of our coverage of the George Zimmerman trial and Trayvon Martin.
Above: George Zimmerman arrives in the courtroom for closing arguments. Photograph by Joe Burbank/Getty.
KEYWORDS GEORGE ZIMMERMAN; TRAYVON MARTIN; POLITICS
JULY 13, 2013
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, NOT GUILTY: BLOOD ON THE LEAVES
POSTED BY JELANI COBB
This post has been updated.
The not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial came down moments after I left a screening of “Fruitvale Station,” a film about the police-shooting death of Oscar Grant four years ago in Oakland. Much of the audience sat quietly sobbing as the closing credits rolled, moved by the narrative of a young black man, unarmed and senselessly gone. Words were not needed to express a common understanding: to Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, the seventeen-year-old he shot, fit the description; for black America, the circumstances of his death did.
The familiarity dulled the sharp edges of the tragedy. The decision the six jurors reached on Saturday evening will inspire anger, frustration, and despair, but little surprise, and this is the most deeply saddening aspect of the entire affair. From the outset— throughout the forty-four days it took for there to be an arrest, and then in the sixteen months it took to for the case to come to trial—there was a nagging suspicion that it would culminate in disappointment. Call this historical profiling.
The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty. During his cross examination of Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, the defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked if she was avoiding the idea that her son had done something to cause his own death. During closing arguments, the defense informed the jury that Martin was armed because he weaponized a sidewalk and used it to bludgeon Zimmerman. During his post-verdict press conference, O’Mara said that, were his client black, he would never have been charged. At the defense’s table, and in the precincts far beyond it where donors have stepped forward to contribute funds to underwrite their efforts, there is a sense that Zimmerman was the victim.
O’Mara’s statement echoed a criticism that began circulating long before Martin and Zimmerman encountered each other. Thousands of black boys die at the hands of other African Americans each year, but the black community, it holds, is concerned only when those deaths are caused by whites. It’s an appealing argument, and widespread, but it’s simplistic and obtuse. It’s a belief most easily held when you’ve not witnessed peace rallies and makeshift memorials, when you’ve turned a blind eye to grassroots organizations like the Interrupters in Chicago, who are working valiantly to stem the tide of violence in that city. It is the thinking of people who’ve never wondered why African Americans disproportionately support strict gun-control legislation. The added quotient of outrage in cases like this one stems not from the belief that a white murderer is somehow worse than a black one but from the knowledge that race determines whether fear, history, and public sentiment offer that killer a usable alibi.
The thousands who gathered last spring in New York, in St. Louis, in Philadelphia, in Miami, and in Washington, D.C., to demand Zimmerman’s arrest shared a narrative and an understanding of the past’s grip on the present. Long before the horrifying images of Martin lying prone and lifeless in the grass ever made their way to Gawker, he’d already begun inspiring references to the line about “blood on the leaves” from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” Those crowds were the response of people who understand that history is interred in the shallowest of graves.
Yet the problem is not that this case marks a low point in this country’s racial history—it’s that, after two centuries of common history, we’re still obligated to chart high points and low ones. To be black at times like this is to see current events on a real-time ticker, a Dow Jones average measuring the quality of one’s citizenship. Trayvon Martin’s death is an American tragedy, but it will mainly be understood as an African-American one. That it occurred in a country that elected and reëlected a black President doesn’t diminish the despair this verdict inspires, it intensifies it. The fact that such a thing can happen at a moment of unparalleled political empowerment tells us that events like these are a hard, unchanging element of our landscape.
We can understand the verdict to mean validation for the idea that the actions Zimmerman took that night were those of a reasonable man, that the conclusions he drew were sound, and that a black teen-ager can be considered armed any time he is walking down a paved street. We can take from this trial the knowledge that a grieving family was capable of displaying inestimable reserves of grace. Following the verdict, Sybrina Fulton posted a benediction to Twitter: “Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control.” The Twitter account of Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, features an image of him holding Trayvon as a toddler, a birthday hat perched on the boy’s head. At the trial, they sat through a grim procession of autopsy photos and audio of the gunshot that ended their son’s life. No matter the verdict, their simple pursuit of justice meant amplifying the trauma of their loss by some unknowable exponent.
There’s fear that the verdict will embolden vigilantes, but that need not be the concern: history has already done that. You don’t have to recall specifics of everything that has transpired in Florida over the past two hundred years to recognize this. The details of Rosewood, the black town terrorized and burned to the ground in 1923, and of Groveland and the black men falsely accused of rape and murdered there in 1949, can remain obscure and retain sway over our present concerns. Names—like Claude Neal, lynched in 1934, and Harry and Harriette Moore, N.A.A.C.P. organizers in Mims County, killed by a firebomb in 1951—can be overlooked. What cannot be forgotten, however, is that there were no consequences for those actions.
Perhaps history does not repeat itself exactly, but it is certainly prone to extended paraphrases. Long before the jury announced its decision, many people had seen what the outcome would be, had known that it would be a strange echo of the words Zimmerman uttered that rainy night in central Florida: they always get away.
Read more of our coverage of the George Zimmerman trial and Trayvon Martin.
Above: George Zimmerman is congratulated by his lawyers after being found not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. Photograph by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty.
POSTED BY JELANI COBB
In his first days on trial, George Zimmerman offered a new twist on an old truism: if tragedy plus time yields comedy, his demeanor suggested that those ingredients might also yield lethargy. By the end of the first week, he’d had an uptick from drowsy to sober, and, with the exception of a brief smile while his former professor testified, sobriety has remained his bearing throughout. Observers have pondered the meaning of his substantial weight gain—whether its cause is the defense’s strategy to present their client as a cherubic, hapless neighborhood watchman, or simply stress. Given Zimmerman’s decision not to testify before his defense rested its case on Wednesday afternoon, that speculation takes on a new dimension. Zimmerman the man may remain as much an enigma as the events of the night in question. The fixation with his girth, his inattentiveness, and his over-all presentation pointed to a truth: we long ago recognized that Trayvon Martin was deeply symbolic, but, for a good number of people, Zimmerman is, too. And whatever the verdict, it will be followed by an outpouring of support for the defendant.
On one level, it appears that focussing on George Zimmerman in a discussion of crime and profiling is as useless as believing that Paula Deen’s utterance of the word “nigger” is a barometer of the state of labor relations: the concerns are far broader and deeper than the public faces momentarily associated with them. The N.R.A.’s success in passing proactive self-defense laws like Florida’s Stand Your Ground is tied to a decades-long concern with crime that is only marginally tethered to the threat it actually poses. A nation doesn’t generate the largest prison population in the world by making assessments based solely on reason instead of emotion. But in other ways, Zimmerman’s fate, and the status he has achieved among those who support him, says something about this particular moment.
Last winter, George Zimmerman saw a hoodie-clad black male cutting through a subdivision in the rain, and registered him as a threat. There are many white people who do not think of themselves as racist who can imagine themselves drawing the same conclusion. From this perspective, blandishments about Trayvon Martin’s right to move through that neighborhood unmolested are only so much political correctness. And as a result, Zimmerman becomes a sympathetic figure, a man who did what anyone would do under the circumstances—a man whose cause can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. There’s a made-for-TV quality to the narrative attached to him: pudgy man joins a boxing gym, sheds upwards of sixty pounds, and diligently patrols a besieged neighborhood. Save for his bad credit, he might’ve been a police officer in Prince William County, Virginia—but, in the wake of a housing collapse, who would hold such a thing against him? That Zimmerman now reportedly wears a disguise and body armor in public completes his sacrificial mythology.
In a 2012 study, some fifty-six per cent of Americans were found to hold what the Associated Press terms implicit “anti-black sentiments,” an increase of seven percentage points in four years. Fifty-one per cent of respondents in the same study “express[ed] explicit anti-black attitudes.” At the same time, fifty-six per cent of the public believes that the rate of crimes committed with guns has gone up over the past twenty years, when in fact the firearm homicide rate dropped by forty-nine per cent from 1993 to 2010, and the rate of non-fatal violent crimes that involved a gun fell by seventy-two per cent. Thus the assumption among his defenders that Zimmerman was, at worst, wrong for all the right reasons.
We live in an era in which the protocol for addressing even the most severely bigoted behavior very often includes a conditional apology to the offender—a declaration that he has made a terrible error, but is, of course, in no way racist—and, eventually, an outpouring of support for the fallible transgressor, victim of the media and the “race-hustlers.” We grade racism on the severest of curves, and virtually no one qualifies. This apparent contradiction—the prevalence of racist attitudes, the disavowal of actual racism—is key to understanding the way Zimmerman has been received. His actions are understandable, even reasonable, because it doesn’t take a racist to believe black males equal danger. To bridge the gap between those assumptions and the objective fact of Martin as an unarmed teen on a snack run, it’s been necessary for Zimmerman’s defenders—legal and otherwise—to assassinate a dead teen-ager’s character, to turn him from a slight seventeen-year-old into a rapper in his thirties with facial tattoos. Traces of weed, a few vile tweets, and a suspension from school don’t usually get you menace-to-society status, but for some Zimmerman diehards, it’s close enough to round up.
An increasingly loud din originating in the conspiratorial right wing, but by no means confined to it, has begun warning of impending race riots should Zimmerman be acquitted. This is only partly about tensions stemming from a high-profile trial—it’s also about a segment of America that feels threatened. That the defense seemingly deployed every known synonym for “weak” in describing their client only makes him resonate even more with people already fearful of crime and worried about angry black mobs taking to the streets. In fairness, Broward County sheriffs have proactively begun meeting with community leaders and clergy to plan post-verdict strategies for keeping the peace. But riots tend to happen when people expect one thing and get another, and, at this point, a Zimmerman acquittal would shock no one.
The same study showing the preponderance of anti-black attitudes indicated that fifty-two per cent of whites expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, and fifty-seven per cent had implicit anti-Hispanic attitudes—which makes the events unfolding in the Seminole County courtroom all the more compelling. Zimmerman’s mother is Hispanic, from Peru, and his father is white. The officer who arrested Zimmerman listed him as white; the jail’s intake officers amended that to “white Hispanic.” Zimmerman is not often mentioned or thought of as a person of color, but in the crime-paranoid and immigrant-hostile climate we live in, it’s not hard to imagine a person with his skin color being profiled for reasons not entirely distinct from the ones that first brought Martin to his attention.
For the moment, Zimmerman exists in a sort of racial penumbra. He’ll retain that status for as long as he’s thought of as a Charles Bronson figure for people who are or believe themselves besieged by crime, people who know well the resentments that come in tandem with fear. Circumstances like this trial inspire any number of actions, but self-reflection isn’t one of them. Whatever the troubling rationales for Zimmerman’s behavior, they’ll remain subsumed by the drama in the courtroom and the inevitable tide of recrimination in the wake of the verdict, whatever it is. Each side will take up their defensive positions, but, no matter what happens, we’ll still find ourselves witness to an undeclared war on crime and our own fears, one led by private citizens and in which a seventeen-year-old became collateral damage.
Read more of our coverage of the George Zimmerman trial and Trayvon Martin.
Photograph by Orlando Sentinel/Getty.
KEYWORDS GEORGE ZIMMERMAN; TRAYVON MARTIN; POLITICS; RACE
David Simon (television writer and creator/producer of "The Wire" and "Treme" among other "urban series") just posted this statement on his blog!...It's about time, isn't it?
By David Simon
You can stand your ground in Florida if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.
In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a gun.The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.
If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens offer testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.
Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies: Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible. I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country. Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.
The Verdict, and the Fallout Here
by Rayfield A. Waller
July 13, 2013
Here in Detroit I have been managing my many students' and ex-students' despair and pain for the last few hours, returning their endless emails, phone calls, and their text messages, letting them know they now ought to read the long history of racially motivated attacks and murders in America if they want to understand the Zimmerman verdict that has so shocked and appalled them.
Too many of the younger generation have been slowly, insidiously disarmed and misled by mass media fantasies, advertising banalities, blurb thinking, and PR pitch speak. Some of them are genuinely dismayed and even confused by the verdict. One student lamented, "Prof Waller, this verdict makes no sense--it's so immoral!” I have reminded them of what I have said to them so many times in class: to read the history of Eleanore Bumpurs, Amadou Diallo, Malice Green, Rodney King, Arthur McDuffie, James Byrd, Jr. and Keyarika Diggles, and of the hundreds of other victims of white supremacy.
Far too often, young people in their twenties, college age, although they know every detail of the doings of XYZ (Jay Z), Piranha (Rihanna), Dap Diddy (P Diddy), and Bouncy (Beyonce), are largely unaware of the truth of the target painted on their own backs at birth.
If there is anything that can be called positive about this not very unexpected verdict, it may be that yet again and for a new generation, there is concrete evidence that cell phones, a good conk, blue contacts, nice clothes, and designer purses do not a free people make; that our criminal justice system sees ‘the criminal’ as ‘just us’. It is perhaps in a twisted way a positive outcome that my students are finally listening to me tonight, because now it is real to them that most racially motivated murderers are NOT found guilty in the first, local trial, and that what might need to happen now is the inevitable charge of violation of Trayvon Martin’s civil rights by a federal prosecutor wielding the ‘hate crimes’ statute.
What may follow after that is the typical civil case being filed against Zimmerman so that Martin’s family can be afforded a chance to appropriate the hundreds of thousands of blood dollars Zimmerman has and will rake in from his fans for his ‘defense fund’, and now for his ‘protection’ (his lawyers have already begun the PR pitch that Zimmerman, although found not guilty is now a ‘marked man’ who must ‘live in fear’, never mind that Trayvon too, lived in pain and fear the last ten minutes of his life and now no longer lives). That ‘defense fund’, reported at approximately $200,000 just last May, was the very same fund he and his ex-wife perjured themselves over when they lied about it to a judge.
As usual, every generation must be wounded afresh to come to consciousness and recognize that the struggle for freedom and dignity, for justice, goes on and is about them, that the struggle is inter-generational.
Martin’s parents are being circumspect right now, a wise and dignified response to the outrage of this verdict, but I suspect that what will likely happen in the coming days will be an announcement by various civil rights and human rights entities, and certainly by the Martin family legal representation, that pressure is going to be brought to bear upon the justice department and/or federal prosecutors to send Zimmerman back through the wringer and then to strip him of the profits he’s earned from stalking a young Black teen and from the cold blooded murder of that same young Black teen.
If such an announcement comes, it will come inevitably, along with the sickeningly ecstatic self-vindications of the local police officials who violated their civic, legal, and moral duties by seeking to cover up, downplay, and abet Zimmerman’s crime, and along with the typical rush to ‘relief’ by those who will preach ‘healing’ and ‘calm’ with mediocre commentaries proclaiming that ‘justice has run its course,’ and that this is now a ‘time to move on” (back to America as usual, where every 36 hours a person of color’s life is taken by the police—many in ‘extra-judicial’ killings):
The glib comments meant to whitewash the root cause of Martin’s murder—the dehumanizing values of rampant corporate capitalism, racial hysteria, the assumptions of white supremacy, America’s fetish for guns and for vigilante-ism—will almost drown out the residual outrage of the mass movement that was the only thing that led to charges and a trial for Zimmerman in the first place. There will be copious and venal balderdash about the racially maligned Rachel Jeantel’s testimony being the factor that ‘damaged the prosecution’s case’, a ridiculous claim we have already heard from the zombie media and from white supremacy’s mouthpieces.
But, I predict that the additional trials will come, or at least I hope they will, for my students’ sakes. Stay tuned.
Posted by Kofi Natambu at 10:01 PM
Labels: American racism, Criminal Justice System, Florida, George Zimmerman, Lynch law, Murder, Trayvon Martin, White Supremacy
Dear MoveOn member,
Tonight, a jury acquitted George Zimmerman. But we are not done demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.
We're calling on the U.S. Justice Department to open a civil rights case against George Zimmerman and have launched a petition to Attorney General Eric Holder. The petition says:
The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida's prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act.
The most fundamental of civil rights—the right to life—was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.
Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today. Thank you.
Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.
--Benjamin Todd Jealous
This petition was created on MoveOn's online petition site, where anyone can start their own online petitions. NAACP didn't pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the MoveOn.org list.
This email was sent to Kofi Natambu on July 13, 2013.