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Zimmerman Acquital: Racism, or Reasonable Doubt?

by John Spritzler

July 16, 2013

Some people say that the six jurors, who acquited George Zimmerman of murder and manslaughter in his killing of Trayvon Martin, acted out of racism. They say (implicitly if not explicitly) that nothing except racism can explain the jurors' decision to acquit. This article refutes this accusation.

When the accusation of racism is wrongly made, it has an effect like that of the boy who cried "Wolf." It makes people fail to take seriously truthful accusations of racism. Real racist practices, by ordinary people when it happens, or by the plutocracy that rules the United States and does racist things routinely, need to be identified, exposed, and sharply condemned and fought. The way to do this is to appeal to the decent values of all ordinary people of all skin colors, not to accuse ordinary white people, like the Zimmerman jurors, of being racists when there is no evidence they are. Millions of Americans rightly condemn and try to oppose racism. Knowing about the reality of racism, they may jump to the conclusion that the six Zimmerman trial jurors were racists. But great harm is done by jumping to wrong conclusions in this situation.

What about the possibility that the jurors had genuine reasonable doubt that the prosecution's narrative was true? How do the people accusing the jurors of racism know that reasonable doubt wasn't the explanation for the jurors' decision to acquit? The answer is that the people accusing the jurors of racism have no evidence to make this case, and don't seem to care about things like evidence when they accuse people of racism.

Here are some reasons to believe that the evidence the jurors saw gave them genuine reasonable doubt about the truth of the prosecution's narrative, which included the key element of Zimmerman being the person who was on top when he and Martin were struggling on the grassy ground next to the sidewalk. One piece of such evidence was the police report of the crime scene made immediately after the shooting. The full police report is online here. The key part is the police officer's observation that, "While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground." Notice that this was not an observation of grass stains, but of his back (i.e. the back of his jacket) being covered in grass--there is a difference. The absence of stains does not disprove this observation.*

Another type of evidence that arguably created genuine reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors was the testimony shown online here of an expert on gunshot wounds explaining that the wound and markings on Martin's shirt were consistent with the defense narrative that Martin was on top, leaning over Zimmerman, when he was shot.

Perhaps those who accuse the six jurors of racism rest their case on the claim that only a racist would use "reasonable doubt" as an excuse for acquitting Zimmerman, and that the failure of the jurors to find Zimmerman guilty, IN SPITE of thinking there was reasonable doubt that he broke the law, proves they were racist. Let's examine this argument closely. When jurors ignore the instructions of the judge (in this case to acquit if they had reasonable doubt that Zimmerman broke the law) it is called jury nullification.

In all likelihood, however, the jurors did not even know that jury nullification was an option for them. Although it is legal, the entire legal system does everything possible to keep that fact a secret from the general public and especially sitting juries. This alone suffices to explain why the jury did not ignore the judge's instructions: racism is hardly a necessary or even plausible explanation.

Furthermore, even if the jurors did know that jury nullification was an option (as unlikely as that was), racism is hardly the only reason why they might have thought jury nullification was inappropriate. It is quite possible they simply thought a man should not be convicted of murder or manslaughter if there is a reasonable chance that he shot a 17 year old, who was banging his head against the concrete, because he thought his life depended on doing so. One doesn't have to be a racist to have this opinion.

The Left Are, At Best, "Useful Idiots"

The Left, in automatically assuming--without evidence--that the six jurors acted out of racism, is helping the ruling class turn whites and blacks against each other. They are telling blacks not to trust whites because whites, as "proven" by the six jurors' actions, are all racists. And they are telling whites that even when they do something (like the jurors did) that is not racist they will be condemned by blacks as racists nonetheless. What a wonderful way to turn people against each other along race lines!

This is one more reason why I think the Left are "useful idiots" who serve the ruling class and are an important obstacle to revolution. Some on the left, like The Nation's editor, Katrina vanden Huevel, who is a member of the by-invitation-only uber-elite organization, the Council on Foreign Relations, are not useful "idiots"; they are useful agents of the ruling class. Thus The Nation headlines "White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman." Ditto Jesse Jackson Sr., also a member of the CFR, who said of the verdict: “I think it was always a stretch, having, this is not a jury of his peers: six women, not one black, not one man. It never was a jury of his peers. I’m really challenged, in some sense, thinking about this jury.” It is almost as if these professional Leftists are getting their script sent to them by the ruling class, although they are so adept at their job that they know how to write the script on their own.

There is no more reason to accuse the Zimmerman trial jurors of anti-black racism than there is to accuse the O.J. Simpson jurors of anti-white racism.

Some say that it might not be the fault of the Zimmerman trial jurors that they had to acquit, but it is the fault of "white racism" in Florida that the state has its "stand your ground" law that made Zimmerman's killing of Martin possibly legal. What does this law say, actually, that applies to the Zimmerman case?** It says, as one can read online here, that:

A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

One can think this is a good or a bad law, but there are clearly non-racist reasons for thinking it a good law and hence non-racist reasons why citizens of Florida might support it.*** In fact, if a Ku Klux Klaner had accosted Trayvon Martin instead of George Zimmerman, and if he had ordered Martin to "Get the hell out of here you goddamned N*****!" and came at Martin with a raised knife, and if Martin had stood his ground and pulled out a gun and shot the Ku Klux Klanner dead, and then Martin was tried for murder but got himself acquitted on the grounds that the "stand your ground" law made what he did legal, how many on the Left, I seriously wonder, would denounce that law as a racist law?****

It is this lack of principle on the part of the Left, their making skin color the determining factor above all else, that causes the Left to be looked at with derision by most other people. It is one thing to be unconsciously affected by racist ideas (as no doubt many people are) and to be even consciously affected by racist lies that one does not know are lies (as, again, many people are--thanks to the ruling class deliberately doing things to spread racist lies, like its "war on drugs" that targets black and Hispanics disproportionately to their drug use or crime rate), but it is something altogether worse to consciously make skin color the explanation for things that have different explanations. Most Americans try hard not to do this. The Left, in contrast, goes out of its way to do this.

Direct Anger Over Martin's Death at the Real Villians

That Trayvon Martin was killed is a genuine cause of justifiable anger. But the anger should be directed at those who are responsible for the conditions that led to his death. Let's look at why this terrible killing happened. The extreme economic inequality that the plutocracy enforces on Americans, results in some poor people, especially some youths, committing theft and burglary and shoplifting with an understandable sense that their poverty is unjust and they have a right to ameliorate it whenever they can. The victims of these crimes also have an understandable sense that they have a right to protect themselves from such crimes as best they can. The victims of these crimes are furthermore encouraged to believe that blacks and Hispanics are virtually all criminals, by TV shows and the rest of the mass media telling them this lie as they point to the disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics in prison while never explaining the thoroughly racist practices of the criminal justice system that cause it. This conflict was very much present in the Zimmerman-Martin conflict, because Zimmerman thought Martin was a criminal.

Absent this conflict, Trayvon Martin would no doubt be alive today. Who created this conflict? Ordinary white people? No. Ordinary black or Hispanic people? No. It was created--deliberately so--by the plutocracy to make it easier for it to control and dominate ordinary people of all skin colors. The plutocracy--using racism (like the "War on Drugs") and phony "anti-racism" (provided by the Left, which the plutocracy controls)--divides and rules ordinary people, to the harm of all ordinary people and the benefit of the plutocracy. Let's direct our anger over Martin's death at the real criminals, the American plutocracy. And let's call on Americans of all skin colors to join that fight. Let's start Thinking about Revolution.

Two Very Different Ways to Fight Racism, and Fight for Equality

As long as the Leftist theory--that the key problem in the United States is that ordinary white people are racists--prevails among those who want a more equal and democratic world, there can never be what we most need--a movement of all working people of all races against the plutocracy that foments racism and all manner of other injustices. Accusing the Zimmerman trial jurors of racism is tantamount to telling ordinary white people to go to hell. Doing this in the name of equality guarantees there will never be equality because it guarnatees there will never be solidarity between working class people all all skin colors in a revolutionary movement for real equality.

---------------------------------------------

* Of course it is possible the cop who wrote this report was lying, out of pure racism that is endemic in America's police forces; a lot of cops are indeed racist thugs. But if jurors took the police report seriously, that might make them naive, but it hardly makes them racists.

** The "stand your ground" law was actually not invoked by Zimmerman in the trial, since in his version of events he was pinned to the ground and unable to retreat.

*** Statistically it seems the "Stand Your Ground" law has been used in Florida to the benefit of blacks more than whites, as reported in this online article titled, "Blacks benefit from Florida 'Stand Your Ground' law at disproportionate rate."

Postscript July 18, 2013: This online article makes excellent points about the Zimmerman trial, including that:

Zimmerman is guilty, morally if not legally, of precipitating the confrontation that led to Martin’s death. He did many things wrong. Mistake No. 1 was inferring that Martin was a burglar. In his 911 call, Zimmerman cited Martin’s behavior. “It’s raining, and he’s just walking around” looking at houses, Zimmerman said. He warned the dispatcher, “He’s got his hand in his waistband.” He described Martin’s race and clothing only after the dispatcher asked about them. Whatever its basis, the inference was false.

Postscript July 25, 2013: This online article makes the case that the prosecution did not give the jury a persuasive reason to convict. It reports:

Based on his [legal commentator Jarvis DeBerry's] conversation with a former prosecutor who is a current defense attorney, who chose to remain anonymous, DeBerry wrote that this lawyer who’s tried hundreds of cases said: "that he's never seen prosecutors who want to win make the series of missteps that the Florida prosecutors made. So he's convinced they lost on purpose." 

**** Has the Stand Your Ground law actually been used to preferentially let whites who kill blacks get a pass while convicting blacks who kill whites? Decide for yourself. Here are the actual details of how the law was invoked or not invoked in Florida homicides involving a black victim and white killer or vice versa, culled from data online here:

Here are some details for all cases when a white was either not charged or acquitted in the killing of a black person.

#1. Location details: Apartment parking lot in Jacksonville, Duval County, on April 07, 2010

What happened: Moore and his friend were walking at night when a black male jumped from a slow-moving car and tried to rob them. The robber, Eric Scott, had his hand down the front of his pants as if he had a gun, but no gun was found. He and Moore's friend starting fighting and Moore stabbed Scott in the back with a Gerber penknife. Moore told police he was afraid the robber and his friends in the car were armed. One of the men in the car with Scott told police Scott intended to rob the men when he jumped out of the car. The car and the other men had proceeded on during the incident and Scott's friends were not involved in the robbery. Moore and his friend both fled the scene but later called the police.

The outcome: Assistant state attorney cited F.S. 776.012 in part as reason for not charging Moore. "a person does not have a duty to retreat if he or she believes that force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another."


#2.

Location details: The shooter's convenience store in the Pine Hills neighborhood in Orlando, Orange County, on Sept. 14, 2007

What happened: Worried after break-ins, convenience store owner Anup Patel was sleeping in his shop when Lucious Carroll broke in. Patel fired 14 shots and killed Carroll.

The outcome: The case was referred to State Attorney's Office to see if it met the requirements of stand your ground. No charges were filed.

Investigating agency: Orange County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#3.

Location details: Outside the defendant's home in Pensacola, Escambia County, on Oct. 10, 2011

What happened: Tabbatha Nussbaumer, a 36-year-old reserve Florida Highway Patrol trooper, came out of the shower to find a stranger with a bow and arrow in her house. He asked where the money was, and she lured the man outside to her truck, away from her 9-year-old son. As he followed her outside, she told police, he took off his clothes. She said she fetched a gun from her truck and told him to get on the ground. Instead, he advanced toward her and she fired once, she told police. Sean Thomas Harris, a neighbor, died. He was found to have had cocaine, cannabis, opiates, methadone and amphetamines in his system.

The outcome: State attorney did not charge and ruled it was a justifiable homicide.

Investigating agency: FDLE

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#4.

Location details: Shot fired from second-floor window of Niemeyer's townhouse into the street in Royal Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, on Dec. 29, 2011

What happened: Damian Niemeyer, 37, was standing at his second-floor bedroom window late at night/early morning when he heard three men outside in the parking lot. When he saw them trying to back his motorcycle into a truck, Niemeyer called 911, then yelled at them. Niemeyer said one of the men responded by pointing a gun up at the window. Niemeyer then fired his gun at the group, fatally shooting Benjy Young, 19. The other men fled the scene. The pickup truck they had been using turned out to have been stolen that evening.

The outcome: Palm Beach County Sheriff's detectives declined to charge Niemeyer saying he shot out of fear for his life.

Investigating agency: Palm Beach County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Police


#5.

Location details: Outside the defendant's home in Navy Point, Escambia County, on Aug. 12, 2006

What happened: Rhonda Eubanks, a 57-year-old nurse at Baptist Hospital, shot a man who tried to get into her home at about 7:45 p.m. The man, 29-year-old Vincent Wesley, tried and failed to get in once, then tried to steal several cars, including an occupied vehicle, witnesses said. Then he returned to Eubanks' home and charged at her while she stood near her doorway with a gun. That's when Eubanks fired. Wesley was found face down under her carport, a few feet from her door. The shooter and victim did not know each other, investigators determined, even though he lived nearby. He was unarmed. Police later found drugs in his home, which had been ransacked. Investigators said at the time that Florida's "stand your ground" law did not impact their decision not to arrest the shooter.

The outcome: Eubanks was not charged.

Investigating agency: Escambia County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#6.

Location details: outside victim's duplex in Ocala, Marion County, on Feb. 04, 2012

What happened: Dan Daley went to Willie Chester's duplex to complain about Chester's dog barking too much. A verbal altercation ensued, but Daley turned and walked away. According to Ocala.com, Chester ran into the street, confronted Daley and began beating him. Daley shot Chester as many as six times, fatally wounding him.

The outcome: State attorney's ruled that Chester was the aggressor and that the shooting was justified.

Investigating agency: Marion county

Case decision made by: prosecutors


*********************************************************

Here are the details for all cases when a black was either not charged or acquitted in the killing of a white person.


#1.

Location details: During party at victim's home in Fort Myers, Lee County, on July 17, 2009

What happened: Demarro Battle fatally shot Omar Bonilla after an argument at a party. Earlier in the dispute, Bonilla had fired his gun into the ground and beaten Battle in the head. Then Bonilla ran inside his apartment, gave his gun to a friend, telling him to hide it, and returned unarmed to confront Battle. Battle, meanwhile, had retrieved his gun from his car and fatally shot Bonilla.

The outcome: Battle was arrested by police and charged with second-degree murder. But charges were dropped by the state attorney. "Under current Florida law the defendant had no duty to retreat," an assistant state attorney wrote.

Investigating agency: Fort Myers Police

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#2.

Location details: Defendant's home in Pine Manor neighborhood in Fort Myers, Lee County, on June 09, 2009

What happened: Adeirean Carey heard a noise outside the window of his house and told the intruder to stop. He said he fired a warning shot, not knowing it hit anyone. Marcos Santiago died, and police later found evidence that he was trying to break into a window.

The outcome: The charge of manslaughter was dismissed under stand your ground, with no opposition from the state. The assistant state attorney said, "The stand your ground law has ramifications that the Legislature did not envision. It oft-times slaps the face of grieving families."

Investigating agency: Fort Myers Police

Investigating agency: Lee County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Judge


#3.

Location details: Defendant's car in Pompano Beach, Broward County, on Sept. 15, 2010

What happened: Patrick Lavoie, a passenger in his girlfriend's Honda Civic, felt Cleveland Murdock was tailgating them as they drove in Pompano Beach. Lavoie told his girlfriend to stop the car, then he jumped out and angrily approached Murdock's black Toyota Tacoma truck. When Lavoie, who had a cigarette lighter in his hand, tried to reach through Murdock's passenger window Murdock shot and killed him. Murdock had a concealed weapons permit.

The outcome: The Broward County Sheriff's Office spoke with witnesses and interrogated Murdock, then let him go, turning the case over to prosecutors to decide if murder charges were warranted. In November 2010, a grand jury decided no charges would be filed.

Investigating agency: Broward County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Grand Jury


#4.

Location details: At a street intersection in Deerfield Beach, Broward County, on Dec. 13, 2007

What happened: Hygens Labidou was confronted by two men who yelled at him for his driving then stopped their pickup truck in front of his and threatened him. Labidou, who is black, told police the men pounded on his truck and yelled racial slurs. He said one of the men, Steven Lonzisero, carried a knife. Labidou stayed in his car and fired his gun, striking both men and killing 28-year-old Edward Borowsky. Sheriff's detectives initially arrested Lonzisero on murder charges for his role in his companion's death, but prosecutors declined to pursue those charges. Labidou, who had a concealed weapons permit, was not charged. He called 911 after the shooting.

The outcome: Not charged

Investigating agency: Broward County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Police

If you see a pattern of racism in how this law is being used, please point it out to me by making a comment here. I don't see it. The most wrongful acquittal seems to be case #2 of a black person being acquitted in the killing of a white person.

 

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