Let’s admit a fact. Not a single one of us knows what happened that fateful night when George Zimmerman encountered Trayvon Martin. We know that a young man died, but none of us knows whether George Zimmerman intended to kill Trayvon or whether he was defending himself. None of us really knows. You don’t. I don’t. The prosecutors don’t. Even the jury doesn’t. George Zimmerman is the only person on earth who really knows what happened that night.
Of course, God knows and eventually full justice will be done here. We know that. Until then, we have to live in the realm of uncertainty. I would make the following observations.
1) Justice only demands a fair hearing; not a determined outcome.
A chant began soon after the verdict was announced. “No justice, no peace.” Those who spoke these words made an assumption – that justice had not been done in this case. It is not justice to demand a particular verdict.
I maintain that justice WAS done. I don’t know if George Zimmerman was guilty or not – only God knows that. But the system worked in this case. Unless someone can prove that jurors were bought off or that some other undue influence was brought to bear, we have to accept that the justice system did its job here.
- A jury of Mr. Zimmerman’s peers listened to all the evidence.
- Both the prosecution and the defense had their full chance to call witnesses, cross-examine the opposition’s witnesses and fully present their cases.
- The jury deliberated for around 16 hours and reached a verdict.
I will never know if they came to the right verdict. Neither will you. But they were there. We weren’t. They heard all the evidence. We didn’t. They received the judge’s instructions. We didn’t. They used their wisdom to discuss the evidence and reach a verdict.
2) The media hinders the justice system’s work!
Twenty-four hour news coverage from Fox, CNN, MSNBC and the networks stirs things up to a dangerous point. A media feeding frenzy seldom furthers the cause of justice. Before the jury was even selected, millions of Americans had reached a firm conclusion about the case based on what FOX or CNN pundits were saying about the case.
The free press is a great blessing. A press free-for-all is a disaster.
I am afraid that in high-profile cases, we risk replacing the trial by jury system with a “trial by pundit” system.
3) America’s racial past makes it hard to argue that racial preference is not at work here.
I have no idea if Trayvon Martin was an innocent young man (as some said) or a thug (as others said). There can be no doubt about two things: a) Trayvon was black and b) the USA has a shameful history of treatment of black people in the justice system.
Yes, the Innocence Project has exonerated a few white guys, but the vast majority of wrongly convicted men (and women) in America have been blacks. A black man who killed a white man had a much higher chance of ending up on death row than a white man who killed a black man.
Perhaps George Zimmerman acted in self defense. Perhaps Trayvon Martin was the aggressor. But there will always be room for doubt about this case because of history.
We pay a price for our centuries of enslavement, racism, segregation and discrimination every time a crime involves a black man – as defendant or as victim.
4) We need to pray for our nation.
Racial issues are a smoldering tinderbox, and something like this can set passions off. Let us pray that protest remain vocal and do not become violent. Let us pray that our nation learns to reject racial discrimination in every form and seeks to fulfill the dream that people be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
This is an incendiary topic, and I hope that our readers and commenters will be careful to guard their words.
- Pray for the Martin family.
- Pray for the Zimmerman family.
- Pray for the Sanford community, for healing to come.
- Pray for the churches in that region, that they might be salt and light.