The Zimmerman verdict

George Zimmerman has recently been found not guilty of all charges relating to the killing of Trayvon Martin.  Exactly what went on between the time when Zimmerman reported Martin’s allegedly suspicious behaviour and the time when he shot him in the chest remains uncertain.   This uncertainty is one reason why it seems extraordinary (even given Florida’s controversial ‘stand your ground’ legislation) that Zimmerman was not arrested until several weeks had passed.  Whereas some commenters point to an apparent slanting of (some) media coverage to show Zimmerman in a less sympathetic light (glossing over his head injuries, for example, and selective reporting of his taped words to emphasise the possibility of racial profiling), it is not surprising that others see both the murder and the verdict as a reason for young black men to feel less secure.  It is perhaps possible that the jury, given the evidence they heard, made a reasonable decision.  But it doesn’t seem unreasonable to speculate (particularly if you have been on the receiving end of prejudiced assumptions) whether Trayvon Martin would still be alive if he had not been black.

Alan A adds…

It is also reasonable to speculate whether this case would have been reported at all if it had been appreciated that Zimmerman was Hispanic.

The US Second Amendment has resulted in a nation which is awash with guns. Deaths by shooting are tragically common. Few of those deaths become subjects of controversy or even comment. What makes this case different, I suspect, is that it was presumed that a white man had killed a black man. It therefore attracted the attention of leading black politicians.

But, had Zimmerman had a more typically Hispanic name, I very much doubt they’d have picked up on it at all: any more than they would if Martin was one of the thousands of young black men killed by other young black men, every year.