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The Zimmerman Trial – When the Prosecution is the Defense

Watching parts of the Zimmerman trail has reminded me of all that's wrong with the American jurisprudence system. In my best legal argument - the prosecution eats ass (sorry if there is a organized group of salad tossers who are offended by the comparison to the prosecution). Let's start with the picking of a jury that includes no Black woman. Any trial attorney who has studied the science of jury selection knows that in a matter involving a black male victim or if the defendant is a young black male that black women are more open to listening to the nuances of the case.  The most obvious reason is that Black women have birthed many a Black son. Black women like Trayvan's mother are familiar with what racial profiling is from lived experiences and the lives shared with fathers, sons, uncles and cousins who also live a day to day culture of survival against being targeted.  This is almost sacrosanct in attempting to win some justice in these type of cases. To somehow allow 5 white woman (on a 6 member jury) to be picked shows the prosecutor is either inept or he has potentially decided to throw the case.

Further the prosecution has not presented a succinct theory of the case. In essence this case is about a wanna be Barney Fife, who was rejected from being a cop (who really gets rejected from that job) had his “thug-o-meter” go off because he sees a “threat” from every young black man.  Zimmerman follows Martin, leaves his vehicle and instigates a confrontation (reflected by 911 caller saying they don’t need him to continue following). At some point he may be losing the fight and then shoots young Martin.

Instead of presenting a case that can be easily understood we get an over abundance of witnesses that step over each other and who did not need to be called to the stand. The prosecution needed only one police investigator to lay out the background, the 911 operator that Zimmerman spoke to, one expert who could document why neighborhood watch-cops should not confront people they deem suspicious, a forensic expert and in the closing argument  present a crisp clarification on how the stand your ground law works. You can’t start a fight and then claim self-defense when you are the one who may have been getting the worse of it.

The star witness should have been Trayvan’s young friend Rachel Jeantel who  was on the phone with him during his walk home when he noticed he was being followed. Her dramatic testimony along with Martin’s mother should have sealed the conviction. Ms. Jeantel was of course nervous when testifying, because really who isn’t when being asked questions in a trial that is a media onslaught, then having to face a harsh cross-examination. It would be interesting to know how many hours were spent preparing the witness, making sure that she understood what was going to happen and how to respond. However unflatteringly she was portrayed by stupid and racist pundits, there was an element of a witness who was not sure how to respond when attacked. The prosecution who also has a “creepy ass cracka” look seems to have not spent an adequate enough time making sure the witness was ready for what he knew would happen during the cross examination. Although she held up well, there is unfortunately the art of theater in the court room which she may not have been properly prepared for.

As we know the state policing system never wanted to press charges in this case. They immediately sympathized out of impulse with anyone who claims self-defense after shooting a young black man. The idea that our youth are captured animals who can turn dangerous at any time when not under supervision has almost become an instinct to the larger white society. This prosecution is similar to those that we have seen many times when actual police offers are tried against the will of the prosecutor and the verdicts are almost always a foregone conclusion.

If the verdict in this case turns out to be what many are beginning to suspect the passion and resistance shown by the family and the grassroots community that demanded the filing of the charges against Zimmerman won’t be forgotten. Many may take to the streets again if the verdict is not guilty to make sure that others understand that there is a price to pay for taking the lives of young Black men. That when a so-called criminal justice system continues to fail in providing a small level of justice, the community may act and find more than just Zimmerman guilty.

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About Kamau Franklin (80 Articles)
Kamau has been a dedicated community activist and organizer for over twenty years, first in New York City and now based in the south. He has been a leading member of several grassroots organizations dedicated to the ideas of Malcolm X on self-determination. He has organized on various issues including youth organizing and development, police misconduct, and creating sustainable urban communities. Kamau has led and developed community cop-watch programs, freedom school programs for youth, large scale community gardens and alternatives to incarceration. He can be followed on twitter @kamaufranklin.

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