The "Stand Your Ground" legislation was sponsored by Florida state Representative Dennis Baxley and state Senator Durell Peadon, both Republican allies of Jeb Bush. The governor quickly signed the measure into law — despite explicit and repeated warnings that this law would encourage shootings of innocents like Trayvon Martin. And despite explicit and repeated warnings that people of color and young people would be unreasonably and disproportionately harmed by the law ~ John Nichols (dob 2/3/1959) writing for The Nation in a 3/21/2012 article, How ALEC Took Florida's 'License to Kill' Law National.
My heart sank when I heard the verdict. George Zimmerman, the man who shot dead an unarmed teenager after profiling and stalking him, has been declared "not guilty". This is, in my strong opinion, a miscarriage of justice. Just prior to the reading of the verdict I heard there were questions regarding the manslaughter charge, so I was hopeful that at least Zimmerman would be convicted of the lesser charge.
MSNBC was the channel I had on during time leading up to the reading of the verdict. I stayed tuned following the pronouncement of "not guilty". Below I have transcribed some of the commentary from the MSNBC coverage following the 7/13/2013 reading of the verdict; a discussion I have edited for brevity and clarity...
Chris Jansing: The Reverand Al Sharpton joins us now. Your reaction?
[Camera stays on a smiling George Zimmerman as Al Sharpton speaks. Smiling because he just got away with murder, IMO.]
Al Sharpton: Well, I think this is an atrocity. I think it is probably one of the worst situations that I've seen. What this jury has done is establish a precedent that if you are young and fit a certain profile... you can be committing no crime, just bringing some Skittles and iced tea to your brother and be killed... and someone can claim self defense. Having been exposed in all kinds of lies and all kinds of inconsistencies... We had to march to even get a trial. Then at trial, when he's exposed over and over again as a liar, he is acquitted. This is a sad day in the country. I think we clearly must move on to the next step, in terms of the federal government and in terms of the civil courts. This is a slap in the face to those who believe in justice.
Joy Reid: ... [the] community in Sanford is split along racial lines. White Sanford residents were by and large supporting George Zimmerman. In a lot of ways it's a Conservative community. Supporting George Zimmerman has become something of a matter of Conservative dogma. He raised 300k, that didn't come from no one.
There has been a sense of demoralization and depression [in Black Sanford] concerning this case from the very beginning. The notion that a young Black man's life really isn't worth much in America was tied up in this case. That notion that this boy just walking home was out of place just by being there, just by being dressed the way he was, his existence was almost illegal. Such that someone acting in the guise of a police officer, but with no authority by the law... could shoot and kill a young Black man and not be arrested. Be sent home.
I think that for a lot of African Americans in Sanford, this is going to double them down on their feelings on the Sanford police, about the system, about not mattering. This is a moment when the country sent the African American community a message: it's OK to shoot and kill one of your sons, because it really just doesn't matter that much.
My Commentary: Al Sharpton then mentions a civil suit that has been filed against George Zimmerman by the family of Trayvon Martin. I've heard, however, that the defense could ask the judge for "immunity which would protect him from a civil lawsuit".
He also mentions the possibility of bringing a civil rights violation charge. Honestly I don't see how that could be possible, as he was found not guilty and the prosecution specifically said that George didn't RACIALLY profile Trayvon, he CRIMINALLY profiled him. But, I suppose if they can go ahead with a wrongful death claim they could conceivably go ahead with a civil rights violation. I believe George racially profiled Trayvon.
Of course Conservatives were pre-complaining about this possibility. I ran into one of them on Lisa's blog. A faker calling himself George Zimmerman said "its disgraceful and scary that an innocent man can be railroaded like this with the help of our Government. It's very obvious that Eric Holder and maybe Obama himself is pulling the strings".
Clearly the "railroading" hasn't worked out that well so far. But GZ lived in a very conservative area. I heard the Rude Pundit refer to Sanford as a "Republican hellhole" on Stephanie Miller's radio program. So I guess 6 Conservative women let the killer of an unarmed Black youth walk? Nobody but the jurists can say for sure. Even they probably think they did the right thing. It certainly wasn't as if they decided it quickly (which could indicate they had their minds made up).
I certainly agree with Mr. Sharpton about this verdict setting a precedent. As far as Black people go, yes, I think armed conceal and carry license holders will feel freer to shoot when they feel "threatened". Just claim self defense and you'll get off, so why take the chance if a Black male "thug" is menacing you by walking in your general vicinity in a public area where he has every right to be?
But, in addition to that problem, what about people seeking to commit outright murder? Just shoot and claim Stand Your Ground. Dead men tell no tales, after all. Be sure to shoot your "assailant" dead and the only side of the story the police will ever hear is yours. A right to defend yourself becomes a license to kill. That is why previously people fearing for their lives always had an obligation to retreat first.
Conservatives are already going crazy and dancing their victory jigs. Hurray for the "right" of a gun toting vigilante to shoot dead a menacing Black male they find suspicious for daring to be somewhere the vigilante doesn't think he should be. I've gotten a few of these kind of comments on this blog already. The Left wanted to "lynch" an innocent Hispanic man, but the jury got it right, according to the "Elizabeth Says" commenter. No Elizabeth, the jury got it wrong. Zimmerman is at least guilty of manslaughter. And we (the Left) never advocated a "lynching", they simply wanted our justice system to do it's job instead of simply accepting Zimmerman's version of events and setting him free (which the police did the very night George shot and killed Trayvon).
And why use a word (lynching) that has such ugly racial connotations attached to it? It's because they're telling us they don't care that racism still exists in the world today. That is why they take this word and use it in a way that is so very inappropriate. Demanding justice is NOT a "lynching". They're laughing at us by using this word (making a joke of the United States history of horrific acts of vigilante murders against African Americans) and now they are rubbing our noses in it. That is their mindset. And it will prove to be very dangerous going forward. Some with this mindset will surely feel much freer to shoot and kill dangerous Black "thugs" in "self defense".
Not long after the verdict I received an email from World Net Daily. Just a by the numbers reporting of the verdict, but I'm sure many opinion commentaries declaring victory for an innocent man forced to defend himself by using lethal force against an unarmed teen will follow. Commentaries of that nature are necessary to pander to the kind of nuts that frequent these kinds of websites, as illustrated by the following comments I copied and pasted below...
A sampling of the comments from World Net Daily
debtom: Well, I wonder if Obama will have something to say about the son that could have been his own. I just can't wait for that racist to speak!
nnesa: Now the ghouls are ready to attack! The racists in the Black community are always ready to take advantage of any situation. Those jurors did their job which the media and all the political clowns never did.
markinla: Zimmerman's lawyers need to advise him to leave the country before the federal government convenes a kangaroo grand jury and indicts him on "civil rights" charges and has another show trial in Compton.
batzion: I, too, am worried that the Obamanation of Desolation & his toadie stooge, Holder, would conspire to create some sort of basis to persecute, er, um, PROSECUTE Zimmerman under federal law...
Donald B. Stetton: AMEN!!! Self-defense is still self-defense in this country. Though Obama's Progressive minions wish to rip this right away from us, Florida has proven that we still have the right to "stand our ground". Jesus allowed himself to be tortured and crucified... ...I'm not Jesus. Though I love and mirror Him, I have a family. Christians... what remains of REAL Americans; "stand your ground..."
It's the Blacks who are the "real racists", including our president who is out to get Zimmerman personally. And Jesus himself supports the rights of the "real American" White Christians to kill scary Black men. Is it just me or does anyone else think these people are mentally unbalanced?
Update 9/4/2014: This commentary attracted the attention of a racist Rightwinger who quotes (and ridicules) me extensively with a post on his blog from 7/15/2013... "Violent protests at result of Zimmerman trial" by Zucca-Xerfantes.