THE WASHINGTON POST
- Eugene Robinson
- Opinion Writer
Justice failed Trayvon Martin the night he was killed. We should be appalled and outraged, but perhaps not surprised, that it failed him again Saturday night, with a verdict setting his killer free.
Our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable, guilty until proven innocent. This is the conversation about race that we desperately need to have — but probably, as in the past, will try our best to avoid.
George Zimmerman’s acquittal was set in motion on Feb. 26, 2012, before Martin’s body was cold. When Sanford, Fla., police arrived on the scene, they encountered a grown man who acknowledged killing an unarmed 17-year-old boy. They did not arrest the man or test him for drug or alcohol use. They conducted a less-than-energetic search for forensic evidence. They hardly bothered to look for witnesses.
Only a national outcry forced authorities to investigate the killing seriously. Even after six weeks, evidence was found to justify arresting Zimmerman, charging him with second-degree murder and putting him on trial. But the chance of dispassionately and definitively establishing what happened that night was probably lost. The only complete narrative of what transpired was Zimmerman’s.
A Florida jury has found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman plead not-guilty, and said he had acted in self-defense when he shot Martin on Feb. 26. 2012.
“I think that this is an atrocity,” Rev. Al Sharpton said on MSNBC shortly after the verdict was announced. ”I think that 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 home to your brother, and be killed, and someone can claim self-defense having been exposed with all kinds of lies, all kinds of inconsistencies.”
“This is a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country,” Sharpton added later.
Editor’s note: George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company strongly denies the allegation. [Full Quote]