Re "Heartsick and numb over the Zimmerman verdict," Column, July 16
Congratulations to Sandy Banks for standing her ground. It would have been so much easier to write whatever column she said she had prepared to write. But she didn't.
Banks says what needs to be said. Regardless of the merits of the case against George Zimmerman, in this country it's still dangerous — more accurately, deadly — for a young black man to be walking where he's not wanted.
Thanks to Banks for standing her ground — that grounded place of bearing witness and saying what needs to be said, even if it's not popular.
Although I respect Banks' deep personal feelings on Zimmerman's acquittal in Trayvon Martin's shooting death, she admits that the case for conviction was weak.
What was the jury to do? Ignore "beyond a reasonable doubt," a fundamental aspect of criminal jurisprudence? Are we supposed to ignore the rule of law? Should the jury make up its own law and convict because the jurors feel for the loss of a young life?
And to say that this singular case describes an America rooted in the past is absurd.
Zimmerman is culpable whether or not he was legally guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. I am heartsick that the trial cast Martin as the criminal because of his altercation with Zimmerman.
The prosecutors have much to answer for.
When Zimmerman's conduct is viewed as part of this country's pattern of racism, he is "being judged by what others do." The stereotype of Southern racists who always get away is as strong as the one regarding black criminals; the risk of misapplying the stereotype is as great.
Banks does it when she writes, "An unarmed black kid can be killed with impunity if someone thinks he just might possibly — with no evidence — be up to no good." This implies a strong similarity between Martin's death and past racially motivated killings such as that of Emmett Till, while ignoring key differences such as the self-defense claim credited by the jury.
If we "believe in limitless individuality," we must judge Zimmerman without regard to anything that happened in other places at other times.
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