It wasn’t as riveting as the OJ Simpson verdict a generation ago, but last weekend’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin certainly captivated the nation and led to some violent protests in the streets.
I teared up when the verdict was announced.
I followed the case closely, primarily because of Fox News ( it wasn’t easy to escape the 24-7 coverage). CNN and MSNBC also chose around-the clock coverage–as if nothing else was happening in the world.
What can we learn from this Florida verdict and apply to our life and times?
First of all, for those of you who don’t tune into American cable news, here are the facts of what happened on February 26, 2012:
- A seventeen year old African-American named Trayvon Martin was visiting his father’s home in Sanford, Florida, He purchased some items at a convenience store and was walking home in the rain to his father’s house.
- 28 year old Hispanic resident, George Zimmerman, was on neighborhood watch that night in the vicinity where Trayvon Martin’s father lived. The area had experienced a recent crime wave. Zimmerman was lawfully carrying a concealed weapon.
- At some point, the two had an encounter, a fight ensued, and Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. George Zimmerman said from the outset that he shot Trayvon in self-defense. The mainstream media–especially NBC–labeled it a white-versus-black hate crime, and the African-American community and the Obama campaign used it to stir racial tensions during the 2012 presidential election (The president opined that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.”
- At first, George Zimmerman was not charged due to lack of evidence and belief in his story that he acted in self-defense. But after national pressure built, the Sanford police chief was fired, a special prosecutor was appointed by FL Governor Rick Scott, Zimmerman was arrested on second degree murder charges, and the case proceeded to trial.
- On Saturday, July 13, a six member, all-woman jury pronounced Zimmerman not guilty of either second degree murder or manslaughter.
- Since that time, various protests have been launched demanding “justice for Trayvon.”
I learned long ago to try to see people and events through the eyes of Heaven. That means seeking for the truth from God’s perspective, keeping in mind that there is a demonic realm that wants to destroy us, and that we live in a fallen world.
Having this desire doesn’t give any human being exact vision in our murky world, but I believe things become clearer when we’re humbly striving to understand things from God’s point of view.
Here’s my analysis.
1. As many people have stated, including both legal teams, the event was a tragedy in which there are no winners. Trayvon Martin’s family have lost a precious child and George Zimmerman and his family will be impacted for life due to the incident.
Some people said that it was a tragedy that never should have happened. That is true except for a point articulated by Zimmerman’s lead attorney, Mark O’Mara, who stated that Trayvon Martin’s pummeling of George Zimmerman gave his client “no choice” but to react in defense to save his life. At that point, it “had to happen” to save his life.
2. The state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted with malice in the killing of Trayvon Martin. In fact, many of the prosecution witnesses actually bolstered the claims of the defense.
Though one can haggle the details, the overall evidence in the trial backed up George Zimmerman’s story that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor in the fight, that Martin was on top of Zimmerman hitting him the face and pushing his head against the asphalt (confirmed by the only eye witness), that Zimmerman was the person heard screaming on the 9-11 call (five of six jurors agreed), and that Zimmerman pulled his gun and shot Martin during the scuffle because he believed that he was in grave danger (confirmed by ballistics experts).
As tragic as Trayvon’s death was, a man is innocent until proven guilty. The facts in this case clearly pointed toward George Zimmerman’s version of events. The vast majority of legal analysts agreed. “Facts” in human life are rarely one hundred percent. The jury took their limited facts and made a fair decision.
3. The jury of six women should be commended for their courageous decision, diligence with the details, and sound reasoning that led to the not guilty verdict. Juries make mistakes as the infamous trials of OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony demonstrated to the world. That’s because all human institutions are fallible–even majority votes.
But using citizen groups–in this case–demanding unanimity in a decision that could lead an individual to spend thirty years in prison–is a wise check and balance in a fallen world. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best imperfect human beings can do.
I want to be honest here. For some time, I’ve been pondering an article on the problem of juries in America because of the way people are weeded out and the general lack of character in our culture that has eroded wise jury judgment. Bad cultures produce bad juries (just like bad constituents elect bad leaders). A jury is never better than the “content of the character” of the individual jurors.
And oftentimes, people of strong morality and character are the very ones not allowed to serve.
However, the jury in the Zimmerman trial has delayed that article and restored my faith in the jury system. The six women, five of whom were mothers, did not respond with emotion or without sound moral judgment. On the contrary, though half of them initially leaned toward convicting George Zimmerman of “something,” their better instincts and understanding of the law led them to unanimously vote for acquittal.
They should be applauded for their diligence. They helped restore our confidence that human systems of justice can be impartially fair.
I stand corrected and encouraged by the Sanford Six.
4. This case was used by race hustlers and profiteers to ignite racial animosity in our nation during the heat of a presidential election in which the black vote was very important.
Let’s blame the mainstream media first, and in particular, NBC News. It’s now a well-known fact that they deliberately altered their reporting of the 9-11 call to make it appear that George Zimmerman was a white racist who had profiled Trayvon Martin. Unfortunately for them, and probably good for America, they will probably be sued and lose a good chunk of change for their refusal to report the truth.
George Zimmerman was not a racist. He mentored black youth, lived in a home with people of color–and during 36 FBI interviews, not one person reported that he had any grievances toward the black race.
He was also not white–but Hispanic.
NBC lied–and they will pay for it. Other liberal outlets followed, creating the racial hysteria.
But the greatest culprits were race hustlers like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Benjamin Jealous (president of the NAACP) who took the bogus facts and used them to lead marches and protests to “turn out the base” and aid in their fund-raising campaigns.
Let’s face it. Some people make money off kindling the fires of racial division. The unthinking masses are guilty too, but let’s rightly place the greater blame on the Pied Pipers who stoke the fires.
America in 2013 is not America in the 1950’s–or 1850’s for that matter. We elected an African American president twice. I’d guess that 90% of all American’s–including southern ones–are not racists. We believe in equal opportunities and rights for all.
The race hustlers are wrong and are perpetuating strife. Let’s hold them accountable.
5. Here’s another interesting reality: It now appears that the African-American community is more racist in America than the white one. This has been confirmed in a number of recent polls, including data on what black Americans think about themselves.
It’s time for American blacks to stop blaming and defaming. Ditto for any white race hustlers.
6. We must get real about serious violence and justice issues and not focus on one tragedy in Florida. Chicago is currently the unequivocal murder capital of the United States with over 200 murders committed over the Fourth of July weekend alone.
Over 90% of those murders were blacks killing blacks.
Murder rates are related to poverty and the chaos it produces. Poverty comes primarily from broken homes and absent fathers–which is endemic in the African-American community.
If we want to deal a death blow to racism, and help minority (and all) communities in this nation, then we should concentrate on strategies for building healthy marriages and families. That’s the debate that should rise the the forefront.
7. There is a demonic world behind the hatred, injustice, murder, and race peddling in our nation and world. They are also behind the rioting which takes place after verdicts like the Zimmerman case. When people smash windows and loot stores to protest what they believe is injust, you know that you are looking at the invisible incitement of demonic hordes.
Think about it. Unjustly breaking windows to protest injustice? That kind of logic only works in hell or places influenced by it.
8. Justice on earth will always be tarnished by human sin and mistakes. However, societies who fear God, strengthen families, teach character, and enact laws based on biblical principles and God-given rights, will experience the greatest amounts of justice and freedom.
Only in eternity will perfect justice be rendered.
What really happened between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman on that fateful February 26, 2012 evening, will only be fully known when we all stand before the Judge of the Universe. Only then will their hearts and actions be fully revealed.
So will be yours and mine. Are you ready for that truly just moment through repentance for your sins and faith in Jesus Christ?
Our hope is not be found in justice, but redemption. That’s how we should pray for both the Martin and Zimmerman families–and the healing of American race relations.