I believe President Obama crossed the line when he most recently commented for the second time on the George Zimmerman verdict.
In doing so, he called into question the verdict of the jury in the Zimmerman case, and the validity and objectivity of America's legal and judicial system.
By politicizing the legal procedures, in an apparent effort to potentially obtain a different result, the President runs the risk of perverting America's objective and impartial legal and judicial system.
Ironically, the long-term impact of such presidential intervention may be detrimental to the very same African American community to which the President is trying to appeal.
Let me elaborate.
Immediately after the verdict in the Gordon Zimmerman case, in which a jury acquitted Gordon Zimmerman of the death of Trayvon Martin, President Obama issued the following appropriate written statement, in which he stated:
"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."
President Obama then concluded his statement with the following thoughtful words,
"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."
President Obama should have stopped there. His comments were presidential, appropriate and sensitive to the parents of Tryvon Martin and the African American community in general.
But apparently, the decisive and unanimous verdict and President Obama's statement were not sufficient to placate many members of the African American community and many other American citizens.
Notwithstanding the above remarks, the Obama administration and the Justice Department faced pressure from several American groups to pursue a civil rights case against Zimmerman.
More than 400,000 people signed a petition from the NAACP which urged Attorney General Eric Holder to act and open a civil rights case against Zimmerman.
It is very interesting to note that the NAACP petition states therein about:
"...growing a movement to hold accountable a criminal justice system that fails Black Americans every day and ending the senseless violence perpetrated by unaccountable vigilantes and police due to racial profiling."
Also Reverend Al Sharpton organized demonstrations in dozens of American cities for the weekend, calling for the Obama Administration to launch a civil rights action against Zimmerman for the alleged murder of Martin and to protest the practice of racial profiling, which many view was the cause of his death.
As a result of these factors, and I am sure, other pressures, President Obama felt the necessity to publicly comment once again on the Zimmerman verdict.
"The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there's going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case -- I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues. The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works. But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling."
This time around, Obama's view of the Zimmerman judicial proceedings was not as definitive. Note in the above first comments, Obama stated, "We are a nation of laws and the jury has spoken." In other words, that is the end of the judicial proceedings. Justice was done. Let us move on.
But in these latter comments, Obama was less definitive and supportive of the system.
He stated, "The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works."
Obama seems to suggest that is how our current system works, but there may be something missing. And that something is context. As Obama adds, "But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling."
Then Obama strongly states just about all African American men, including himself, prior to being a senator, has experienced being treated differently by the white population, in terms of the white population being threatened or wary or treating black American men as potential criminals. In other words, being racially profiled as being potentially harmful.
And as Obama succinctly points out:
"And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws -- everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case."
Obama further argued referring to American black males:
"...that they're disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It's not to make excuses for that fact -- although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history."
"And so the fact that sometimes that's unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.
"I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there's no context for it and that context is being denied."
What Obama is suggesting is that the Martin/Zimmerman legal and judicial proceedings may have been defective from the African American community's standpoint, because the case was not considered or decided in the context of: (1) America's systematic racial profiling of American black men, (arising from white America's distrust of American black males); (2) America's racially-charged application and enforcement of laws; and (3) America's historically violent treatment of the American black community.
Obama is implying that if these factors had been introduced, the result may have been different. In other words, Zimmerman may have been found guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, along racial lines.
Conversely, if these factors were introduced in the event of Trayvon Martin shooting a white guy, Martin may have a better chance of being found not guilty on the basis of self-defence, as opposed to being presumed guilty on the basis of his race.
So is Obama suggesting that whenever there is a criminal case in which a non-black person shoots and kills a black person, these above factors should be brought into play?
Sort of like affirmative action for deceased black victims.
Or conversely, when a black guy shoots and kills a white guy, the same factors could be used to support the defence of self-defence, and rebut the presumption of guilt due to color.
Frankly, Obama, was right the first time, in his initial comments. America is a nation of laws. The law, its application and enforcement and justice, should be color-blind, objective, impartial and fair.
Politics and race criteria should not be injected into the American legal and judicial system. That would pervert the system.
Because some day, the American black community will not have a sympathetic black President or black Attorney General in its corner.
And when that day comes, the American black community does not want to be subject to a legal and judicial system, distorted by politics and race criteria anathema to the American black community.
According to Christ's Sermon on the Mount, New Testament:
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For what with judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:1-2)
Now that's what I call a teachable lesson. Which even the great President Barack Obama may heed.
<strong>Feb. 19, 2012</strong> -- Trayvon Martin, 17, and Tracy, his father, travel from Miami Gardens to Sanford, Fla., to visit the elder Martin's fiancee in her townhome at The Retreat at Twin Lakes. <em>Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.globalgrind.com" target="_blank">globalgrind.com</a></em>
<strong>Feb. 26, 2012</strong> -- Trayvon Martin is walking to the home of his father's fiancee after purchasing items from a 7-Eleven store in Sanford. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, spots Martin at approximately 7 p.m. and calls police. "We've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a real suspicious guy," Zimmerman tells police.
<strong>Feb. 26, 2012</strong> -- Roughly seven minutes after Zimmerman's call to police, authorities receive a 911 call from an individual reporting a fight. During the call, the dispatcher hears a gunshot in the background and sends police units to the location. Responding officers discover that Martin has been shot in the chest. The teen is unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. Police find no identification on Martin and label him a John Doe.
<strong>Feb. 26, 2012</strong> -- Questioned by police, Zimmerman informs them that Martin attacked him and he fired his gun in self-defense. Authorities confiscate Zimmerman's 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and take him to the Sanford Police Department for further questioning.
<strong>Feb. 27, 2012</strong> -- Following a lengthy interview, George Zimmerman is released from the police station at approximately 1 a.m. Hours later, Tracy Martin contacts police to report his son missing. Investigators soon connect the dots and inform the elder Martin of his son's death. After receiving treatment from a family doctor, Zimmerman meets with investigators and reenacts the events of the shooting at the crime scene.
<strong>March 8, 2012</strong> -- Tracy Martin holds a press conference, during which he criticizes the investigation into his son's slaying. "We feel justice hasn't been served," Martin tells reporters.
<strong>March 9, 2012</strong> -- Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump tells the Miami Herald he is filing a lawsuit for the release of public records in the case.
<strong>March 10, 2012</strong> -- Members of the New Black Panther Party, contending there has been a "miscarriage of justice," rally outside the Sanford Police Department.
<strong>March 12, 2012</strong> -- Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee holds a press conference, at which he claims that investigators were unable to arrest Zimmerman because he was protected by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows residents to shoot someone if they reasonably believe they are being threatened. "There is no evidence to dispute Zimmerman's assertion that he shot Martin out of self-defense," Lee says. In response, Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, post a petition on the Change.org website calling for State Attorney Angela Corey to prosecute Zimmerman. The petition quickly garners support from multiple celebrities and receives nearly 900,000 signatures the first week.
<strong>March 13, 2012</strong> -- In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the NAACP expresses doubt in the Sanford Police Department's ability to appropriately handle the investigation, asking the Department of Justice to review the case. "The NAACP has no confidence that, absent federal oversight, the Sanford Police Department will devote the necessary degree of care to its investigation," the letter says. Sanford police announce the completion of their investigation and turn the case over to the State Attorney's Office for Brevard and Seminole Counties. "Trayvon Martin and his family, interested persons, and the public-at-large are entitled to no less than a thorough, deliberate and just review of the information provided, along with any other evidence that may or may not be developed in the course of the review process," State Attorney Norm Wolfinger's office says in a statement.
<strong>March 14, 2012</strong> -- Mary Cutcher, a woman listed in police reports as a witness who heard Martin's shooting, <a href="http://www.wftv.com/news/news/witness-sanford-police-blew-us-teen-slaying/nLSqk/" target="_blank">tells WFTV.com that police took only a short statement from her</a> following the shooting. "[The police] blew us off, and I called back again and I said, 'I know this was not self-defense. There was no punching, no hitting going on at the time, no wrestling,'" says Cutcher.
<strong>March 15, 2012</strong> -- Sanford police issue a statement calling Mary Cutcher's TV interviews "inconsistent" with her sworn testimony. Meanwhile, Zimmerman's father, Robert, tells the Orlando Sentinel that his son has been unfairly portrayed as a racist.
<strong>March 16, 2012</strong> -- Sanford police release eight 911 recordings in the case. One of the recordings includes a voice in the background screaming, "Help, help!" The screams are followed by the sound of a gunshot.
<strong>March 19, 2012</strong> -- The Justice Department and the FBI announce they have opened an investigation into the shooting.
<strong>March 20, 2012</strong> -- State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announces that a Seminole County, Fla., grand jury will review the circumstances of Martin's death.
<strong>March 21, 2012</strong> -- The Sanford City Commission votes "no confidence" in Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee and calls for his resignation.
<strong>March 22, 2012</strong> -- Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee holds a press conference and announces he is temporarily stepping down as police chief because his presence is a "distraction." State Attorney Norm Wolfinger recuses himself from the case and Florida Gov. Rick Scott announces that another state attorney, Jacksonville-based Angela Corey, will be replacing Wolfinger as special prosecutor in the investigation. Meanwhile, Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and other civil rights leaders and politicians hold a justice rally at Sanford's Fort Mellon Park. They demand an arrest in Martin's shooting. An estimated 10,000 people attend the event.
<strong>March 23, 2012</strong> -- President Barack Obama tells reporters that the nation needs to do some "soul-searching to figure out how something like this happens." He adds, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
<strong>March 24, 2012</strong> -- Members of the New Black Panther Party offer a $10,000 reward for the "capture" of Zimmerman.
<strong>March 25, 2012</strong> -- Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks in Eatonville and encourages revisions to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. "If it's a moment, we go home. If it's a movement, we go to war," says Jackson.
<strong>March 26, 2012</strong> -- Police release new details of the investigation, saying Zimmerman told them Martin punched him and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times. Acting Police Chief Darren Scott takes over as chief of the Sanford Police Department. Thousands of people gather in Sanford to mark one month since Martin was killed.
<strong>March 29, 2012</strong> -- Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., tells CNN that medical records will prove his brother was attacked and his nose was broken.
<strong>April 3, 2012</strong> -- Florida State Sen. Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale) announces the formation of a task force to review the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.
<strong>April 8, 2012</strong> -- George Zimmerman launches the website "The Real George Zimmerman" to raise money for his defense.
<strong>April 9, 2012</strong> -- State Attorney Angela Corey announces her decision not to use a grand jury in the Martin investigation. The move eliminates the possibility of a first-degree murder charge.
<strong>April 10, 2012</strong> -- Zimmerman's attorneys, Hal Uhrig (right) and Craig Sonner, announce that they will no longer be representing him.
<strong>April 11, 2012</strong> - State Attorney Angela Corey announces the charging of George Zimmerman with second-degree murder. Zimmerman turns himself in to police and is booked into the Seminole County Jail. Mark O'Mara announces his role as Zimmerman's new attorney.
<strong>April 23, 2012</strong> -- George Zimmerman's new lawyer, Mark O'Mara, enters a not-guilty plea on his client's behalf. Zimmerman is released from jail on a $150,000 bond. Per the conditions of his release, Zimmerman is required to wear a GPS monitoring device.
<strong>April 24, 2012</strong> -- George Zimmerman shuts down his website. According to his attorney, the site raised $200,000.
<strong>April 27, 2012</strong> -- Mark O'Mara launches the website GZLegalCase.com as the official site for Zimmerman's legal case.
<strong>May 8, 2012</strong> -- At Zimmerman's arraignment, Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. accepts his not-guilty plea.
<strong>May 17, 2012</strong> -- Prosecutors release police reports, witness statements, surveillance videos and other evidence in the case.
<strong>June 1, 2012</strong> -- Judge Lester revokes Zimmerman's bond, stating that his ruling is based on concerns that Zimmerman and his wife did not fully disclose their finances at the bond hearing.
<strong>June 3, 2012</strong> -- Zimmerman is returned to jail.
<strong>June 12, 2012</strong> -- George Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, is arrested on one count of perjury.
<strong>June 20, 2012</strong> -- The Sanford city manager fires Bill Lee from the police force.
<strong>June 21, 2012</strong> -- George Zimmerman's legal team releases discovery evidence on their client's website.
<strong>June 29, 2012</strong> -- Zimmerman's second bond hearing is held. The judge does not immediately issue a ruling.
<strong>July 5, 2012</strong> -- Judge Lester grants Zimmerman a higher bond of $1 million.
<strong>July 6, 2012</strong> -- Zimmerman is again released from jail.
<strong>July 19, 2012</strong> -- George Zimmerman relaunches his personal website.
<strong>July 27, 2012</strong> -- George Zimmerman's wife pleads not guilty to perjury.
<strong>Aug. 29, 2012</strong> -- An appeals court grants a request by George Zimmerman's defense team to dismiss Judge Lester from the case.
<strong>Aug. 30, 2012</strong> -- Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson is assigned the case.
<strong>Oct. 19, 2012</strong> -- Judge Nelson grants a defense motion requesting access to Trayvon Martin's school records and social media posts. The state is also granted access to Zimmerman's medical records.
<strong>Nov. 14, 2012</strong> -- Gov. Scott's "Stand Your Ground" task force concludes its final meeting and recommends no sweeping changes to the law.
<strong>Nov. 20, 2012</strong> -- Former Casey Anthony attorney Jose Baez announces that he is representing Sanford police Detective Chris Serino, the lead investigator in the shooting.
<strong>Dec. 3, 2012</strong> -- A new photo is released showing George Zimmerman with a bloody, broken nose on the night of the shooting.
<strong>Feb. 5, 2013</strong> -- On this day, Trayvon Martin would have turned 18.
<strong>Feb. 26, 2013</strong> -- Martin's parents hold a rally in his memory to mark the one-year anniversary of his death.
<strong>March 26, 2013</strong> -- Zimmerman's defense team releases its witness list of 134 people, including Sanford police officers and 56 unnamed witnesses.
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