When President Obama commented for the second time on the George Zimmerman verdict, he crossed the line. 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.
I have to take issue with Rachel Décoste's recent blog, "Racism is Front Page News at the Ottawa Sun," because she unfairly labels the Ottawa Sun's handling of Trayvon Martin's death as racist. In doing so, she trivializes the real issue of racism in our society, and undermines the very cause that she is advocating. There is no evidence that the Ottawa Sun acted in a racist manner and prejudicial manner. And there is no evidence that as a result of such treatment of the Martin matter, the Ottawa Sun is perpetuating inequality in our Canadian society.
I got home and found out about George Zimmerman's acquittal. I watched white people make this about them, and then I watched them slowly but surely provide themselves with the tools to forget that this had ever happened. And I watched black people wonder if their kid was next. When people of colour raise their voice, I'm going to do my best to make sure that they get a megaphone, and then I'm going to hightail it to the back of the room and listen.
Although I am convinced that the death of Trayvon Martin was not because of his race, and that the jury reached a correct verdict in declaring George Zimmerman "not guilty," I also feel the people raising the issue of "black on black" crime (and saying it is ignored in a way that white on black crime isn't) are being disingenuous. The fact is, "black on black" crime is no more common than "white on white" crime or "Chinese on Chinese" crime. Most murders are intraracial. If Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton annoy me with their contrived despair, so do conservatives like Newt Gingrich with their "What about black on black crime" line.
Canadians gloss over our bloody history in order to pretend that we're better than the rest of the world, that racism isn't an issue here. It's only not an issue if you're not a person of colour. It's only not an issue if you've never had to watch your children grow up and battle their own skin colour in order to live. It's only not an issue if you're not someone like Trayvon Martin, walking in a neighbourhood where he looked suspicious because he was black.
''A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions... and unfortunately, because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this earth.'' This simple statement is the state's most compelling argument for a manslaughter conviction. An innocent teenager died and Zimmerman was his killer as the result of his flawed perceptions and negligent conduct.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office announced that it was working closely with the Sanford Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies to implement "a response plan in anticipation of the verdict." I predict that there will be peaceful protests but not a calamitous reaction to the jury's not guilty verdict.
In a bold and virtually unprecedented move by the defence, Tracy Martin was called to testify. His evidence was preceded by two Sanford police officers, including the lead investigator, who confirmed that in the days following his teenage son's death, Tracy Martin was unable to identify the voice on the 911 call crying for help. Martin contested the officers' testimony stating that ''I never said it wasn't my son's voice.'' He later concluded that it was his son after listening to the call ''as many as 20 times.''
The prosecution's case has been marked by a parade of errors. It started with overreaching and charging George Zimmerman with second-degree murder. The charge requires evidence of hatred, spite or evil intent and the evidence in the case fell woefully short of that standard. The only possible charge left for the jury to consider is manslaughter.
The jury has George Zimmerman's complete legal defence presented in his own words. The prosecution introduced four statements Zimmerman provided to the police after the fatal shooting incident. In his statements, Zimmerman described yelling for help as the person (later identified as Trayvon Martin) was ''whaling on my head.'' He placed his hands on Zimmerman's nose and told him that ''you're going to die tonight.'' Zimmerman thought that his assailant was going for his gun and shot him one time.
On the morning of the first day of the Zimmerman trial, CNN released a poll that showed that 62% of the respondents polled maintained that the charges against George Zimmerman are probably or certainly true. If all of the six jurors in the Zimmerman trial find that his charge is probably true, he will be acquitted. The following six take-aways emerged from day 1 of the Zimmerman trial: