Trayvon Martin and Other Travesties
“SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was cleared of all charges late Saturday night in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager whose killing unleashed furious debate across the U.S. over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.”
Last Friday I was in the town Post Office, one of the clerks asked me if I thought Zimmerman was going to be convicted. I told her no. She appeared shocked and asked me why I thought that way. I explained why I believed the fix was in for him to get off. I shared with her the fact lawyers always prep their witnesses, especially key witnesses. The lawyers explain and reiterate the witness needs be relaxed and calm, the lawyers prepare the witness for whatever they think the opposition will throw at them and the lawyer reassures their witness they will set the stage for their testimony. They often suggest how the witness should dress and appear in court. In some cases they even give them a make over, like the defense did for Zimmerman. In my view the prosecutors deliberately failed to do this in this case! After the first day of trial, I knew the fix was in.
The firestorm over the first witness Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when Zimmerman accosted him, is a case in point. In my view the prosecutors deliberately or otherwise failed to prepare her for court. They set her up to be discredited and dismissed as a witness. On the other hand, the negative reactions towards Ms Jeantel reveal our own hang ups, brainwashing and self-hatred. Black people vilified her for her speech, her appearance and because she could not read cursive writing. They were calling her “Precious” because she resembled the movie character by that name. So if the majority of Black people who were emotionally invested on the side of the Martin family were dogging Ms Jeantel, what do you think white folks thought and said about her?!
The corporate media showed her over and over. She was obviously nervous, she is an overweight deeply pigmented African-American female who had not been prepped or prepared for being on a nationally televised controversial case. The prosecutors failed her and their case miserably, which I think was deliberate! The court of public opinion was swayed against Martin early in the trial. This helped reinforce the already deeply held racist notions about black people the white media has cultivated since slavery days! Major psychological damage was done because the prosecutors failed to consider this reality, anticipate it and prepare Ms Jeantel psychologically and appearance wise. Meanwhile the defense cleaned and dressed Zimmerman and declined to call him as a witness in his own defense saving him from aggressive cross examining by the prosecution and being held up to media and public scrutiny.
Michael Coard is a successful criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia, a prominent community activist and radio talk show host. I’ve had recent occasion to work with him (I’ll talk more about this in later columns). Michael says manipulating the court of public opinion is just as important as what happens in the court room during the trial. While most black media backed the move to arrest and prosecute George Zimmerman, remember Zimmerman wasn’t arrested for the shooting at first, only after a national campaign by black media was he even arrested and charged. Meanwhile the white corporate media jumped to Zimmerman’s defense by demonizing Trayvon Martin and portraying Zimmerman as a hero despite the fact the Police Dispatcher told Zimmerman not to take any action, to wait for the police to arrive! Immediately after the shooting Zimmerman wasn’t arrested. It wasn’t until outside pressure was brought to bare he was taken into custody. It was at that time Zimmerman claimed self defense and showed bruises no one noticed or bothered to report/record at the time of the incident!
Right wing media did their part to make the murder of a black male by a white man palatable. It didn’t help that an intense war is currently raging over gun ownership/confiscation, second amendment rights and feelings are running deep on both sides. The gun lobby and gun supporters poured money into Zimmerman’s defense fund. At one time over $200,000 was reported raised. Zimmerman’s supporters claim they are leveling the playing field, they feel Zimmerman is being “railroaded”. This dichotomy of thought exemplifies the deep and increasing racial and cultural divide in this country.
The fact of the matter is, this country doesn’t value black life. AmeriKKKa has a long and egregious history since colonial slavery times of abuse and murder of black males. Trayvon Martin was merely another example in a long line of such murders. He is being called a modern day Emmett Till. Like the KKK of old, George Zimmerman became the poster boy and the darling of “law and order”, “stand your ground” rational for murder of black people. The system was reluctant to even arrest and charge him appropriately. Zimmerman was supported emotionally and psychologically by the media, financially by the gun owners, racists and quiet as its kept most whites. Now that Zimmerman has been acquitted and there were no riots, AmeriKKKa can sleep easier, the status quo has been preserved once again.