Whatever the outcome of the case against George Zimmerman, it won’t be good.
Officials in Florida are trying their best to calm the waters before a verdict comes but a case like this one means someone won’t be happy when it’s all over. Zimmerman is the man charged with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is a white Hispanic and Martin was African-American.
Zimmerman says it was self-defense; prosecutors say it is second-degree murder and that Zimmerman profiled the teen. The jury has heard from plenty of witnesses for both sides and experts on everything from wounds to 911 tapes.
But in the end what has officials worried most is the reaction that will come from the streets of Broward County. This week the sheriff’s office has released public service announcements calling for cool heads once the verdict is reached.
“Freedom of expression is a constitutional right,” the sheriff’s office said, according to a CNN.com story. “While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not.”
In the public service video, a boy says, “Let’s give violence a rest, because we can easily end up arrested.” And a girl adds, “Let it roll off your shoulders. It’s water off your back, don’t lack composure. Because in one instant it could be over.”
According to the CNN.com story, the case has triggered a nationwide debate about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, race and racial profiling.
“People care about gun rights. People care about race. People care about children. People care about the right to defend yourself,” said CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin. “And this case has all of them wrapped up together, and that’s rare.”
Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, told CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” that regardless of the outcome, his client will forever be looking over his shoulder:
“First of all, my client will never be safe, because there are a percentage of the population who are angry, they’re upset, and they may well take it out on him,” he said. “So, he’ll never be safe.”
The case has become all about race. A white Hispanic man shoots a young black teen. Maybe Zimmerman profiled, maybe he didn’t. Maybe Trayvon went looking for trouble himself, maybe he didn’t.
My biggest problem with the case is that are no witnesses. No one can testify that they watched what happened from start to tragic finish. We know Zimmerman was injured in the fight and we know Trayvon was shot to death. What we don’t know is EVERYTHING in between.
And that’s the problem. But the larger problem is that every trouble maker in that part of Florida – or trouble makers anywhere else – will use this case as a reason to spark violence.
I think the correct message to everyone is to just accept the verdict as one delivered by a jury of your peers. They will have done the best they could have done given the evidence. No violence. No more shootings, no beatings, no riots. There’s never a good reason for that anyway but this time there’s really no reason. It’s our system of justice at work and we have to learn to accept that.
— Andy Hachadorian