What do you think of the acquittal of George Zimmerman?

Demonstrators hold signs during a demonstration, dubbed “One Thousand Hoodies for Trayvon Martin Support Rally,” protesting the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and to demand justice for his killer, Thursday, March 29, 2012, on Northrop Plaza at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus. AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, John Autey

“The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin is reverberating far beyond Florida, writes NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates. “On Sunday, President Obama acknowledged the strong passions the verdict has incited. He asked Americans ‘to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.'”

Many people are trying to make sense of a case that sparked a national conversation on race and gun laws.

Longtime civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed by the verdict” and that it seemed to “justify the stalking and killing of innocent black boys and deny them any avenue of self-defense.”

The NAACP was, coincidentally, holding its annual conference in Orlando as the verdict was announced Saturday night in nearby Sanford, Fla.

Dominique Tuggle, who was attending the conference, said: “A completely innocent verdict was the last thing that I thought the jury would come back with, so it was shocking and very upsetting. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the news or to go on any social media networks.”

Wes Hall, another conference participant, pointed out that juries often hear things the public isn’t privy to: “We don’t know all the evidence. We can watch the trial, but when you get in that deliberation room and all those facts are laid out in front of you, that’s when the true justice happens. And it’s not over. Just because we have a verdict now does not mean that this story is over.”

Today’s Question: What do you think of the acquittal of George Zimmerman?

  • PinguinoRoja

    Granted the evidence, this case should have never been brought in front of a court. Zimmerman followed the exact protocol taught to us, by police officers, in our carry permit classes during and after the shooting: He shot and killed the suspect so there wouldn’t be an opposing testimony later on; he holstered his gun directly after the incident; he did not tamper with any evidence; and he maintained that he was justified in using deadly force after the incident. Fortunately or unfortunately, his testimony was supported by forensics found at the scene. Agree with it or not, that is the protocol and it worked out in his favor.

    A small background to the justifiable use of deadly force: It is when there is an imminent threat of either death or great bodily harm. What is key here is that great bodily harm is legally defined as anything that can cause major organ damage. For example, if someone is wielding a baseball bat, then the THREAT alone would be enough to justify the use of deadly force. The act of swinging it does not need to take place in order for it to be considered a justifiable shooting. For the Zimmerman case, having his head allegedly slammed against the pavement is more than enough reason to justifiably shoot the attacker; as this could create great bodily harm. In legal terms, the state never had a case against him beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Now what happened prior to the shooting is important as well; but again, granted the evidence and Zimmerman’s statements, he cannot be contested beyond a reasonable doubt without a credible witness or victim to testify against him. It is certainly not illegal to follow a suspicious individual while on the phone with a 911 operator; although, I think this incident shows exactly why it wouldn’t be advisable if you are in fact a gun owner.

    The bottom-line: this was just a horse and pony show to appease public outcries which was initiated by misinformation from media. Pat yourselves on the back NPR; I read your non-sense as this case went on… You preach responsible media reporting, but you couldn’t have been more premature than a 14 year old boy looking at a nudie magazine for the first time.

    • Keith

      Seriously???? Sure, there is nothing illegal about following someone, but to deliberately put yourself in harms way and then claim self defense is highly questionable.

    • KTN

      “He shot and killed the suspect…”

      What exactly was Martin suspected of doing, other than being black. He was legally in his neighborhood, he was legally wearing a hoodie (it was raining), and he legally purchased his Skittles and iced tea.

      So, again, what crime was he a suspect of committing. Seems like he was just standing his ground against a much larger, older aggressor, but in Florida, I guess SYG is only good if you have a gun (oh and if your white)

      • Nick

        The jury found that Zimmerman (who was also legally in his neighborhood and legally approached a person who he knew did not live there) was brutally attacked by Martin and acted in sefl-defense. Stand your Ground was not used as defense. Maybe you shoudl educated yourself on the events and the trial before accusing people of being racists.

        • KTN

          But, Martin did live there

          Black people can legally use public streets you know, just like they can buy Skittles and wear hoodies like white people. The exception is they need to justify their actions, regardless of intent. Zimmerman refused to follow police orders, and took the law into his own hands, judge, jury, and executioner. Seems like murder to me.

      • PinguinoRoja

        You may not be able to connect the dots now.. but the media pulled a fast one on you. Ratings = Money

        I hate to break it to you, but you drank the punch… dead giveaway: your race baiting story line which isn’t based in facts. He had every right to keep an eye on him until the police arrived. This isn’t Minnesota.. this is a gated community in FLORIDA.

      • PinguinoRoja

        To satisfy your question and to clarify…. if an unrecognized individual is roaming around a gated community at night… it is easy to deem that person a suspicious individual. He doesn’t need to commit a crime or be black to be deemed suspicious.

        Now what started the fight is unclear… that is why I said either fortunately or unfortunately the forensics supported Zimmerman’s testimony. I am not bold enough to pick a side when you, me, nor anyone else has a clue what happened. The only two people that knew that are the shooter and the victim. Granted the evidence.. Zimmerman followed the protocol legally; he could show a justifiable need to use deadly force; and his statements were supported by the forensics..

        • KTN

          “To satisfy your question and to clarify…. if an unrecognized
          individual is roaming around a gated community at night… it is easy to
          deem that person a suspicious individual. He doesn’t need to commit a
          crime or be black to be deemed suspicious”.

          But isn’t this why we have the police?
          What if a neighbors uncle were visiting and decided to take a walk. He would be unrecognizable to the other neighbors, so he is suspect and should be shot down. Really?

          • PinguinoRoja

            “Isn’t that why we have police?”
            Absolutely. This is a gray that all gun owners undertake though; and any permit class worth its grain of salt would go through several mistaken-identity ‘don’t shoot’ scenarios. The last thing anybody wants to do is to shoot another permit holder due to brash judgment, an innocent person, or god forbid the victim in an ongoing crime/assault.

            But within this case; none of us can make a credible leap from the facts given to who/what actually initiated that fight. Perhaps Zimmerman was lying that he got attacked, perhaps not. I can definitely give you moralistic and legal answers to either scenario, but both are speculative and highly irresponsible for any of us to base our outrage over. This is where the District Attorney and the media dropped the ball; and they did it for political reasons and monetary reasons. You know as well as I do that no MSN network would keep me on week after week saying “I am not going to rush to judgment until the facts come out.” There is no chaos in that, there is no divisiveness.. it’s boring.. change the channel.

            I will say this though, and I have argued it from the day that I got my permit: We need clearer laws for carry permit holders to abide by, in order to alleviate the gray areas, for a lawful shooting. I am not nearly as familiar with Florida laws as I am with Minnesota’s, but even here we have a lot of gray area when it comes to a justifiable shooting. Case-in-point: Minnesota is technically a “No Duty to Retreat” state when it comes to self-defense or residing in your own home. BUT, there are 3-4 cases where this defense did not stand up in court… so it is a gray area without our state. Because of this; I would personally air the side of caution; but it is something that needs to be eventually be cleared up within our state laws.

            I would urge everyone who is legally qualified to go out and get attempt to get a permit to carry; or at least get acquainted with the laws in our state; because then you would not only understand the laws and have a greater vestment in this debate, but you would also understand the responsibility that those of us who do choose to carry go through. We aren’t bad people who are gung-ho about fighting crime… I am a scientist not police officer.. we were told from day 1 to expect to be put under scrutiny or expect to be at the very least be sued if you ever discharge that weapon at someone. This is serious matters; and very few of us take that lightly.

          • KTN

            Minnesota is a no duty to retreat, but once the threat no longer exists, that duty is absolute. If, as a permit holder, you continue to advance even after the threat has passed, you are liable.

            My outrage comes from the law in Florida, not that the jury acquitted.

            That someone could use deadly force, absent any evidence of a crime is an abomination. That someone can claim, absent evidence, that a young man, doing nothing illegal can be gunned down, because as Zimmerman told the police “Fucking punks. These assholes. They always get away”.

            This was a hunting expedition, and nothing else. It shines a harsh light on our gun society, and our inability to see the paranoia rampant with the fear of the unknown.

  • PaulJ

    People believe what they want to believe.

  • James

    Before conceal and carry, we were allowed to defend our residences with lethal force. After conceal and carry, we are allowed to defend ourselves, anywhere, with lethal force. The difference in immense, and was not particularly discussed when conceal and carry fever was sweeping the nation.
    People who are disappointed about the Zimmerman verdict should have been paying more attention a few years ago, or should rally around revisiting the whole conceal and carry thing.
    I, for one, just assume that everying is carrying, and I try very hard to not rile anyone up. No middle finger salutes while driving. No arguments with strangers. No physical intimidation. That’s where Trevon Martin got it wrong. Look what it got him.

  • Gary F

    The problem with this case is that the New York Times and NBC/MSNBC edited the 911 call to make it sound more racist. Add Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to the mix, and emotion rules over the facts of the case. When emotions run high, people seem to overlook the facts.

    It’s always sad when a young person dies.

  • Sue de Nim

    This precedent means dueling is now legal in Florida. Two people get into a fight, never mind who started it, one ends up dead, and the survivor gets to claim self-defense. This is a sad day.

    • Gary F

      Are you saying with a legal handgun, with an illegal handgun or a baseball bat/pipe?

  • david

    It’s a reminder to watch out for pussies with guns, they usually have something to prove.

    • Gary F

      Most people conceal when they carry, so you have no idea if the person you are thinking of confronting is legally or illegally carrying a handgun. So really don’t know if the person is a pussie or not.

      David, does that go for people illegally carrying a handgun too?

      • david

        Yes. If someone is so confident to be an aggressor like georgie you probably can assume they have a gun. If that little man didn’t have a gun there is no way he would have ever been brave enough to have gotten out of his car. Unfortunately a kid who has been hassled by the man one to many times probably acted inappropriately too, but if zimmerman wasn’t following him around he would be alive today.

  • Jim G

    Zimmerman was found “not guilty” because the Stand your Ground law in Florida allows armed vigilantes to follow, confront, and kill others they deem a danger to themselves or their neighbors. This same type of law was passed by a Republican Legislature and fortunately vetoed by our Minnesota Governor, Mark Dayton. One thing is for sure; I won’t be visiting Florida or any other state that has these racist laws on their books. These are not states I want to visit, vacation in, or do business with.

    • Gary F

      How is this law racist?

      • Jim G

        These laws remove the most fundamental civil right from an individual: the “right to life.” Trayvon was targeted not because of his behavior, which was walking through a gated community, but because he was a black man walking through a gated community. These laws allow bigots to target their victims, follow or pursue, and shoot dead the one witness which would tell a very different story. This is pretty much the sad history of many parts of our country that once practiced slavery, a racist institution.

    • Nick

      Stand your Ground was not used as defense. How can you begin to think your opinion on what happened matters when you do not even know the basic facts of the case? The jury in the case found that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

      • Jim G

        I agree with Sue de Nim’s post of 5:20.

  • Eric from Mpls

    Despite what I think of George Zimmerman’s actions leading up to the incident, the jury did the right thing by finding him “not guilty”. I don’t like what it says about Florida law, but the jury’s responsibility is to determine if laws were broken not if the laws are inappropriate. If Trayvon’s survivors bring a civil suit for wrongful death, however, I don’t see how Zimmerman could possibly win.

  • Thomas

    I don’t know what was in George Zimmerman’s heart, but I do know there was reasonable doubt.

  • Mary

    I think it’s going to create more George Zimmermans.

  • JLPH

    The national press–Star/Tribune et al–and national TV news should be arrested for fomenting racial violence and chaos following the Zimmerman verdict. They’ve been at it for months. Every specious exhortation to discourage rioting is really a not-so-subliminal call to riot. This case has become a media-led circus where the race card can be played over & over by the usual race baiters until Z gets strung up. If it were reverse–Zimmerman on top of Martin, MMA-style, who then shot Z–self-defence would be obvious and there would have been no trial. And the attorney general and his boss are equally guilty of spending tax dollars to bus protesters to Florida a year ago to pressure local authorities to charge Z despite evidence that didn’t justify charges. Finally, if Obama had a son, he might well have looked like Zimmerman since Obama is as white as he is black, though he never identifies with that side of his family; if he did, what a different country we might be living in.

  • John Peschken

    I trust the jury. They heard the whole story.

    • JQP

      they heard the whole story they were legally allowed to hear. the court proceedings are designed to restrict information as much as promote it.

  • mike

    I remember OJ. Isn’t this almost the exact opposite of that?

  • Karyn

    where is the Mpls march?

  • theoldsheepherder

    You can either have an even handed Justice System or you can have vigilante sanctioned lawlessness which promote gun sales with “Stand Your Ground.” This ALEC “law” was promoted by Republicans and hawked by the NRA with their typical fear and loathing for the sole purpose of increased gun sales. It worked. It also yielded increased funerals. Not so ironically, individuals pleading Stand Your Ground in Court usually have a significant criminal background involving violence. The same judge that presided over Zimmerman’s trial, sent an African American woman to prison for 20 years for firing warning shots into the air to warn off her abusive ex-husband who she had a restraining order on. She pleaded Stand Your Ground but apparently there is an African American clause in there somewhere.

  • Gary F

    According to the Miami Herald………..

    “After interviewing nearly three dozen people in the George Zimmerman murder case, the FBI found no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, records released Thursday show.”

    • JQP

      the same headline followed lynchings in the south on a regular basis in the 50’s and 60’s. Endemic cultural “fears” are not perceived that way by those in the that “soup”. For them, George would have to have a Confederate flag tattoo, a pick up truck with a C-flag on the back window, gun rack and a penchant for drinking on his front lawn and yelling at every non-white that came by. Cause – that behavior couldn’t be denied.
      Its the well-manicured, genteel, publicly-nice, privately hateful racism that is the problem. GZ is the current face of the tightly bottled racist. Fearful of others who don’t follow the rules he has chosen to live by … #1 of which is … don’t come in my neighborhood unless “I” invite you personally.

  • Katie

    If Zimmerman did not have a gun, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    • Ralfy

      You are correct. He would have followed the instructions of the 911 dispatcher and let the police investigate. George Zimmerman alone brought this on.

    • Jeff

      Yep, we probably would see Zimmerman dead.

  • Ralfy

    Untrained, self-appointed neighborhood watch patrol disobeys police instructions, stalks, confronts and then kills an unarmed young black man. The DA didn’t want to charge GZ in the first place, didn’t want to face a challenge to Florida’s gun laws, and only did so after pressure from multiple sources. They then assigned a Jr. staff lawyer to this most high profile of cases, and essentially put the victim on trial (following the lead of certain media sources). The witnesses called by the prosecution seemed to testify on behalf of the defense. Of course there was an acquittal – it was a forgone conclusion. Do you think this would have turned out differently if GZ had killed a woman? An elderly white male? Was GZ sober? We will never know, as he wasn’t tested (in violation of SOP by the police. TM was). Was GZ profiling? Unquestionably – by his own words to the police. Perhaps not by race alone, but by the combination of race, gender and clothing. Does this change the standard for self-defense? Absolutely. The court has confirmed that it is legal in Florida to initiate a conflict and then kill your opponent if they defend themselves. A sad, sad day for all of us.

  • Winston Chrislock

    The jury was the only body in a position to judge the case.

  • Karyn

    Seriously, where is the mpls march? because when we flap our lips on this blog comment, and we essentially let this one slide, there will be more Zimmermans. yes, it is the slippery slope.

  • I’m Trayvon Martins

    There are many GZ in the ranks of Minneapolis PD. Every black behind the wheel looks suspicious. No wonder they pay law suits penalties heaviliy wasting taxpayers dollars on their studpi profiling.

  • Black Martins

    Since the verdict every white males looks suspicious to me. Guilty or not guilty GZ is a murderer and he remain so forever.

  • owen

    I agree with JLPH’s comment about the media’s conduct that has been thinly veiled encouragement of violent responses. They’ve guaranteed themselves something to cover in their sanctimonious way.

  • mark

    I think we have a process and that process has been administered. What little I know of the case is no match for that of the jury who were present. The intense coverage of trials inflames groups who cannot be satisfied by the verdict and are powered by sheer emotion.
    In a broader sense, when our “news” is dominated by trial coverage, it leaves little room for other, arguably more legitimate stories. US journalists’ silence on the Farc peace talks has been resounding. Why the thousands killed in Colombia’s civil war, financed on all sides by Americans is less newsworthy than 1 tragedy escapes me.

  • Bill

    Defending yourself is now going to be a criminal act thanks to our controlled news media.

  • chris

    The most informed people in the entire country on the subject were those present in the jury. Everyone else’s opinion is based on hearsay and charged by bias one way or the other.

    • lindblomealges

      Dude, a 17 year old kid walking back from the store, on the phone with his girl, got spooked cause Zimmerman followed him. If I were 17 I’d probably attack Zimmerman too. At the very least, I would consider options for getting help. There’s no bias here man. The kid posed no threat UNTIL ZIMMERMAN DECIDED AGAINST POLICE ADVICE TO FOLLOW HIM. That’s the essence of this whole thing and why people are outraged about the verdict. These are the facts buddy, and this is indisputable.

  • Bean

    To folks asking about events in Mpls. “Hoodies Up” Rally 6pm at Government Plaza.

  • Karyn

    thanks!!

  • Things never change.

    Worth re-stating: “The court has confirmed that it is legal in Florida to initiate a conflict and then kill your opponent if they defend themselves. A sad, sad day for all of us.”

  • Love the irony

    Through a combination if ignorance and stupidity Zimmerman chose to live in a world where he falsely believed black men were out to get him. Now he really does live in such a world. Enjoy watching over your shoulder for the rest of your life.

    • lindblomealges

      No doubt! Preach it!

  • Grandma Barbara

    So, let me get this straight. Now if I live in Florida, if somebody approaches me and I push him away he can legally shoot me for assaulting him with a deadly sidewalk?? Hmm.

  • Angry As Hell

    I’m going to get my conceal permit this week. If anyone thinks I look suspicious because I’m black I’m not going down without him. No more courtesy for those racists.

    • lindblomealges

      That’s exactly what Brotha Malcolm X preached along with the Black Panthers, and whites kept arguing these brothers were racist. Maybe now, they’ll finally understand why these brave heroes said and acted just as you suggested in your post. You get tired, REAL TIRED, of being fed a bunch of BS about rights, the law, moral and ethical obligations, etc., only to see white males do this over and over and over and over again and again WITHOUT PUNISHMENT. This is ridiculous! It is the year 2013, and Zimmerman acted as if this was 1865 and he wasn’t about to recognize slavery ended. Malcolm was right folks. Its taking too long for us to achieve FULL CIVIL RIGHTS.

  • Whitney Stewart Harris

    The United States of America has a long history of declaring white males who arbitrarily killed Black males innocent. Despite the extraordinary effort white males often go to kill Black men, such as chasing them down, hanging them on a tree, invading their homes, jumping out of their cars and stalking them, the courts have often found them not guilty. George Zimmerman may be legally not guilty but he is morally and ethically a race-baiting murderer.

  • Sue de Nim

    Just to be clear, the jury did not actually find that GZ acted in self defense. They found that the prosecution hadn’t proved he didn’t act in self defense. I’m sure the jury followed Florida law very carefully. From my perspective, it’s Florida law that was on trial, and I find Florida law guilty of murder. If you’re going to plead self defense, you should have to prove that the preponderance of the evidence supports your claim (just like it is for an insanity plea). In Florida, if the prosecution can’t prove it wasn’t self defense, the killer walks.

    • Ralfy

      Aye. And there is the catch – being scared in a SYG state qualifies as self-defense. As long as the killer was afraid of the victim…

  • lindblomealges

    Let’s be EXTREMELY CLEAR about this: George Zimmerman DID NOT want Trayvon Martin in his neighborhood. George thought he had the right and the power to stop and question Trayvon as a member of a neighborhood watch group, which he didn’t have. George didn’t take the stand (which should tell us all something, right OJ?) and he never apologized to the family for taking Trayvon’s life, before, during, or after the trial. His acquittal means Florida residents HAVE THE JIM CROW POWER to keep people out of their neighborhoods simply by saying he/she/or they scared me so I shot them down, regardless of what they were doing, in self defense. That’s what’s really happening here people. This trial may seem like it is about self defense, but the broader implication for blacks is clear….stay out of Zimmerman’s neighborhood, especially after dark, or you will be killed. That’ straight out of the Jim Crow/lynching playbook.

    • Gayle

      Note – GZ was a self-appointed neighborhood watch group of 1. He did not belong to a multi-member group, he was not trained and he did not have a relationship with the police as a member of a watch group. He was not registered with the police or the neighborhood association. He was acting on his own, outside of any authority other than SYG.

  • JackBode

    What do I think about the Zimmerman verdict?
    I Cheered.

  • Jeff

    So many people are misinformed, Zimmerman never used the stand your ground defense since it didn’t apply. He was on the ground, he couldn’t retreat even if he wanted to…even in this state he could have claimed self defense. I’m so tired of all the misinformation on this case, people stopped listening to facts and are now using emotion to determine that Zimmerman is guilty. Well you’re wrong, plain and simple and a jury who sat and heard the facts agrees with me. Sometimes people need to be told they were and are wrong and this situation is one of those times.

    • Brent

      I agree people should listen to the facts, but some people don’t look at the evidence before determining their own “facts”. Travon had no dna from Zimmerman on his hands, which would have been there had he been hitting Zimmerman with his fists. Also, Zimmerman could not have gotten his gun out, had Travon been on top of him, because his gun was holstered on his back hip. It’s pretty clear that Zimmerman had his gun out when Travon approached, and what ensued was Travon defending himself by trying to wrestle the gun away.

      • Jeff

        You just created a scenario not based in fact, on July 3rd a DNA expert found many stains on Martin’s person that were mixes of both people’s DNA and could not be isolated. There were no less than 4 spots where Martin’s DNA was found on Zimmerman. Good try but don’t misrepresent the facts to fit your world view.

  • D Score

    Interesting how this happened in Sanford, Florida. That’s the same town where Jackie Robinson started playing on the Brooklyn Dodgers farm team 65 yrs ago, and where he got to experience first hand the hatred and bigotry and murderous rage that he incited by the color of his skin. I guess some things are just never going to change.