Obama on the Zimmerman Verdict

 

President Barack Obama’s statement on the acquittal of George Zimmerman:

The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.

First, Martin’s death was a tragedy just as all death is a tragedy, but it was not a specific tragedy for all of America, no more than the death of a child in a car accident in California is a tragedy for people in Montana. No more than the shooting death of a child in Chicago is a tragedy to politicians in Washington, D.C.

Second, the only reason this case “elicited strong passions” is because the media built the stake of racism and President Obama lit the match. Over the last several months, the media, racial activists, legal commentators, and Americans ignorant of the law have stoked the flames.

Third, yes, Mr. President, we are a nation of laws. You would do well to remember that fact when you make appointments like czars outside of the legal process, delay the implementation of laws as in the case of the Affordable Care Act, and ignore rules relating to foreign aid, such as the requirement to cut off money when a democratically elected government has been toppled in a military coup.

Fourth, we should not “ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence.” We should ask one another if we’re doing all we can to raise children who do not resort to violence when they feel disrespected, and we should ask politicians to stop exploiting tragedies to promote gun control legislation, twisting pain and loss into a political agenda.

Finally, collective guilt is as unacceptable as collective redemption. If the president’s call for the prevention of future tragedies is to be taken as he presented it—following a call to “stem the tide of gun violence”—then he thinks Martin’s death could have been prevented if Zimmerman never had a gun.

That’s technically true, obviously. But what Obama and so many others fail to see in this situation (and on the broader issue of gun control) is that if Zimmerman had not had a gun, he might be the one dead today. That’s because Martin attacked him and beat his head repeatedly against the cement. 

As the jury determined, Zimmerman didn’t murder Martin, so he must have acted in self-defense as he claimed. Without a gun to protect himself, he might not be alive today. Would that have been a national tragedy, Mr. President? Would we be spreading collective blame in that situation and calling for collective redemption?

It is not the job of each American to try to prevent tragedies by taking away every American’s Constitutional right to defend themselves. That is not the way to honor Trayvon Martin. The way to honor Martin, to honor anyone who has died, is to show love, grace, and compassion to their families. And, yes, where it is appropriate, to examine the cause and to seek justice if warranted. In this case, the cause was a violent attack by a teenager who chose hostility over communication.

That is a reason to reflect, to examine the state of our culture. But the question of why a young man’s impulse was toward violence and not peace is one that is not being asked. Not by the media or activists or social commentators, and not by the President of the United States. 

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 101 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Tommy– it’s a fact. Zimmerman’s defense team did not invoke stand your ground. It was not their case. This article might clarify: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/07/15/202418599/stand-your-ground-laws-under-scrutiny-post-zimmerman-verdictGeorge Zimmerman’s defense team didn’t invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” defense in winning his acquittal of murder in last year’s shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.”The case wasn’t decided on a stand your ground basis,” says University of Florida law professor Joseph Little. “So there’s not much to say about what the Zimmerman case tells us about the stand your ground law.”

    • #61
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @EugeneKriegsmann
    Tommy De Seno

    So Stand Your Ground is good for Zimmerman, but not Martin? · 33 minutes ago

    Stand your ground was never an issue in this trial. It was deliberately avoided by the prosecution because it was irrelevant to the charges brought. That was a straw dog erected by the media prior to the trial. It was neither mentioned nor testified to during the trial. The judge does bring charges. The prosecutor does that.

    • #62
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam
    Tommy De Seno

    D.C. McAllister: Tommy—#61. The defense didn’t defend Zimmerman on Stand Your Ground. It was Self-Defense. · 6 minutes ago

    Not sure how you come to that conclusion – the judge charged both. · 7 minutes ago

    You’re actually both correct.  Zimmerman waived his SYG defense for immunity hearing purposes, but he was still afforded protection of it by the court.  It was in the jury instructions.  

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/16/3502481/juror-we-talked-stand-your-ground.html

    • #63
  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno

    No Whiskey only I’m correct.  D.C. don’t ever rely upon NPR.

    If the defense invoked stand your ground before the trial they would have opened up their defenses to a pre-trial hearing which they smartly didn’t want.

    By waiting until trial the didn’t have to show anything prior.

    Forget all the newspaper accounts.  Go look at the jury instructions.  The jury instruction on stand your ground is in there, and it only got in there by the request of the defense.

    As Whiskey pointed out, the juror that is speaking even said that was the basis for their decision.

    Not to worry D.C. – everyone falls pray to the misinformation of NPR and their ilk once in awhile.

    • #64
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I belong to an organization call the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. When I joined I was given a set of 7 DVDs which contain lectures by some of the leading attorneys and expert witnesses in the United States who specialize in cases of “justified shootings.” I have watched those DVDs  several times. I am very familiar with the laws of my state and I am licensed to carry a concealed weapon in several states.

    If I had been in George Zimmerman’s place I would have acted very differently during the initial phases of the event. I have had years of dealing with intruders entering my school building  and handling them in a manner that did not lead to violence. However, had I been in Zimmerman’s position, on the ground being pummeled and obviously overmatched, and I was armed at the time, I do not believe that I would hesitate to use my weapon to defend myself. Given my understanding of the law and the “prudent man” provisions, I believe that if I felt that my life was in real jeopardy, that that would the necessary response. Necessity is the key word.

    • #65
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @billy
    Tommy De Seno

    This is where I part company with you and the jury.

    I have a 17 year old son.  If someone was following him in a car, I would tell my son to do what Tray did – run away.

    If my son later encountered the same man who now exited his car and followed him to a walkway between buildings where he felt cornered, I would have no problem with my son standing his ground and fighting.

    Zimmerman put himself in a position where he should have reasonably expected to get punched (there is no sucker punch in this situation).  He got hit and because he is not a trained police officer, he panicked and shot the boy. · 2 hours ago

    Tommy, have you been listening to Rush today? He picked up something from Rachel Jenteal’s interview on CNN last night which throws this incident in a new light.

    • #66
  7. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    billy

    Tommy De Seno

    This is where I part company with you and the jury.

    I have a 17 year old son.  If someone was following him in a car, I would tell my son to do what Tray did – run away.

    If my son later encountered the same man who now exited his car and followed him to a walkway between buildings where he felt cornered, I would have no problem with my son standing his ground and fighting.

    Zimmerman put himself in a position where he should have reasonably expected to get punched (there is no sucker punch in this situation).  He got hit and because he is not a trained police officer, he panicked and shot the boy. · 2 hours ago

    Tommy, have you been listening to Rush today? He picked up something from Rachel Jenteal’s interview on CNN last night which throws this incident in a new light. · 1 minute ago

    What was it?

    • #67
  8. Profile Photo Member
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Having said what I said above, let me add a further point. I don’t agree with the Stand Your Ground law because unless you fully understand the limitations of that law and the potential legal hornets’ nest you enter when you stand your ground using deadly force it is just a trap. Like concealed carry, it requires a lot more knowledge and understanding than the simple skill of point and shoot.

    • #68
  9. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    Eugene Kriegsmann: Having said what I said above, let me add a further point. I don’t agree with the Stand Your Ground law because unless you fully understand the limitations of that law and the potential legal hornets’ nest you enter when you stand your ground using deadly force it is just a trap. Like concealed carry, it requires a lot more knowledge and understanding than the simple skill of point and shoot. · in 0 minutes

    Well said.

    • #69
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @billy

    Essentially, that Jentiel warned Martin that Zimmerman might have been a sexual predator and that “Trayvon wasn’t that way.” further, that you have to warn your boys about “those kinds.”

    She also emphasized the Martin didn’t want to lead a gay rapist to his home where his little brother was.

    • #70
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam
    Tommy De Seno: No Whiskey only I’m correct.  D.C. don’t ever rely upon NPR.

    If the defense invoked stand your ground before the trial they would have opened up their defenses to a pre-trial hearing which they smartly didn’t want.

    By waiting until trial the didn’t have to show anything prior.

    Forget all the newspaper accounts.  Go look at the jury instructions.  The jury instruction on stand your ground is in there, and it only got in there by the request of the defense.

    As Whiskey pointed out, the juror that is speaking even said that was the basis for their decision.

    Not to worry D.C. – everyone falls pray to the misinformation of NPR and their ilk once in awhile. · 12 minutes ago

    Edited 11 minutes ago

    I’m only going by what that article said.  It stated that the stand your ground law changed the standard jury instructions for all manslaughter and murder trials.  Did the defense specifically request it in this case or was it there by default?

    I am bothered by the juror’s comments.  It sounds like there was a lousy job done in explaining the instructions to them.

    • #71
  12. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    billy: Essentially, that Jentiel warned Martin that Zimmerman might have been a sexual predator and that “Trayvon wasn’t that way.” further, that you have to warn your boys about “those kinds.”

    She also emphasized the Martin didn’t want to lead a gay rapist to his home where his little brother was. · 1 minute ago

    Wow.  I got hanged on Ricochet for broaching the subject that this could have been going through Tray’s mind at the time. 

    • #72
  13. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    Whiskey Sam

    I’m only going by what that article said.  It stated that the stand your ground law changed the standard jury instructions for all manslaughter and murder trials.  Did the defense specifically request it in this case or was it there by default?

    I am bothered by the juror’s comments.  It sounds like there was a lousy job done in explaining the instructions to them. · 1 minute ago

    This is nuts and bolts stuff.  

    An immunity means no trial at all.  To invoke that, you’d have to have a hearing and the judge decides.  O’Mara rightly saw too many fact questions for a judge to rule as a matter of law, so all he would do is give the Prosecution a free shot at the witnesses.  So he waived that hearing.

    As to the Jury instructions, the Judge ultimately decides, but the parties get to suggest what goes in.  There’s no question the Defense made the suggestion on Stand Your Ground.  The Judge likely would have put it in had they not suggested it anyway.And you are right jury instructions are always confusing. 3 years of law school in a 45 minute speech.
    • #73
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @billy
    Tommy De Seno

    Wow.  I got hanged on Ricochet for broaching the subject that this could have been going through Tray’s mind at the time.  · 1 minute ago

    It explains Martin’s actions (without excusing them) a little better. In a 17 year old’s mind, when some old queen ( “crazy ass cracker”) starts putting the moves on you, you don’t run away, you show him you aren’t “that way.”

    • #74
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam
    Tommy De Seno

    This is nuts and bolts stuff.  

    An immunity means no trial at all.  To invoke that, you’d have to have a hearing and the judge decides.  O’Mara rightly saw too many fact questions for a judge to rule as a matter of law, so all he would do is give the Prosecution a free shot at the witnesses.  So he waived that hearing.

    As to the Jury instructions, the Judge ultimately decides, but the parties get to suggest what goes in.  There’s no question the Defense made the suggestion on Stand Your Ground.  The Judge likely would have put it in had they not suggested it anyway.And you are right jury instructions are always confusing. 3 years of law school in a 45 minute speech. · in 0 minutes

    They waived the immunity hearing which got reported as not invoking SYG.  They didn’t explicitly base their defense on SYG, but by using a self-defense claim they were implicitly invoking SYG because that statute redefined self-defense to not require the defendant to avoid danger before using deadly force and was in the jury instructions.  Is that the gist of it?  I need_a_drink.

    • #75
  16. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    Whiskey Sam

     

    They waived the immunity hearing which got reported as not invoking SYG.  They didn’t explicitly base their defense on SYG, but by using a self-defense claim they were implicitly invoking SYG because that statute redefined self-defense to not require the defendant to avoid danger before using deadly force and was in the jury instructions.  Is that the gist of it?  I need_a_drink. · 3 minutes ago

    You got it perfectly. 

    We think alike.  Sometimes in the midst of discussing this stuff in a Judge’s chambers I’ll yell out, “We all sound crazy.  Let’s go get a drink.”

    People think that when there is a verdict, guilty or not, that means the jury bought everything the prevailing party stated.

    That’s very far from the truth.  I’m sure some are today claiming that the jury agreed Martin banged George’s head, reached for the gun, etc.

    All that is really necessary was that they found Zimmerman reasonably feared for his life.   Trayvon need not even touch him for that.  In fact, they could throw out everything Zimmerman said so long as they find that fear.

    Only the jury knows what they bought.

    • #76
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam
    Tommy De Seno

    You got it perfectly. 

    We think alike.  Sometimes in the midst of discussing this stuff in a Judge’s chambers I’ll yell out, “We all sound crazy.  Let’s go get a drink.”

    People think that when there is a verdict, guilty or not, that means the jury bought everything the prevailing party stated.

    That’s very far from the truth.  I’m sure some are today claiming that the jury agreed Martin banged George’s head, reached for the gun, etc.

    All that is really necessary was that they found Zimmerman reasonably feared for his life.   Trayvon need not even touch him for that.  In fact, they could throw out everything Zimmerman said so long as they find that fear.

    Only the jury knows what they bought. · 6 minutes ago

    Thanks, that clears it up.  The next time I’m up in NYC to see the Mets let’s have that drink.

    • #77
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    This was a great discussion. I really enjoyed it.

    • #78
  19. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    Whiskey Sam

    Tommy De Seno

    You got it perfectly. 

    We think alike.  Sometimes in the midst of discussing this stuff in a Judge’s chambers I’ll yell out, “We all sound crazy.  Let’s go get a drink.”

    People think that when there is a verdict, guilty or not, that means the jury bought everything the prevailing party stated.

    That’s very far from the truth.  I’m sure some are today claiming that the jury agreed Martin banged George’s head, reached for the gun, etc.

    All that is really necessary was that they found Zimmerman reasonably feared for his life.   Trayvon need not even touch him for that.  In fact, they could throw out everything Zimmerman said so long as they find that fear.

    Only the jury knows what they bought. · 6 minutes ago

    Thanks, that clears it up.  The next time I’m up in NYC to see the Mets let’s have that drink. · 23 minutes ago

    Watch Mets –  need drink.   Sounds familiar to me.

    • #79
  20. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Valuith—the was an eye witness that Martin was on top of Zimmerman with his fists rising and falling. Also, there were no marks on Martin except scrapes to his fists (and then the gun shot of course). It was assault and while he might not have been found guilty of it, he most likely would have been charged.

    • #80
  21. Profile Photo Inactive
    @GroupCaptainMandrake
    Dan Hanson: Now, you can argue that Zimmerman was a cop wanna-be

    John Derbyshire made the following observation on this point.

    Second sidebar point: The steady stream of sneering about Zimmerman as a, quote, “wannnabe cop.” What’s the point there? My neighborhood has a volunteer ambulance service who have saved many lives. If I join them and go through the first aid training, does that make me a “wannabe doctor”? If it does, what’s wrong with that?

    • #81
  22. Profile Photo Member
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Despite his size he would have been charged as a minor and would have gotten anything from a suspended sentence with community service to a couple of weeks in Juvenile Detention. This no matter how severely he beat Zimmerman. 

    I taught in Juvenile Detention in Seattle and saw a lot of assault cases come through. Few, if any, got more than a couple of weeks in detention.

    • #82
  23. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Eugene Kriegsmann: Despite his size he would have been charged as a minor and would have gotten anything from a suspended sentence with community service to a couple of weeks in Juvenile Detention. This no matter how severely he beat Zimmerman. · 7 minutes ago

    Perhaps this would help explain why he would have had no problem doubling back towards Zimmerman and away from his home? What’s the worst that happens? He gets a couple weeks in juvy?

    • #83
  24. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Valiuth
    D.C. McAllister: Valuith—the was an eye witness that Martin was on top of Zimmerman with his fists rising and falling. Also, there were no marks on Martin except scrapes to his fists (and then the gun shot of course). It was assault and while he might not have been found guilty of it, he most likely would have been charged. · 4 minutes ago

    Like I said, Martin was winning the fight. I’m not a lawyer, but can you be guilty of assault if you didn’t start the fight? My thinking was that you couldn’t, but I could be wrong on that. 

    • #84
  25. Profile Photo Inactive
    @billy

    We have had racial tension in this country for, well, as long as we have been a country. And our presidents have run the gamut from slave owners to civil rights advocates.

    But has any president been so cynical as to so blatantly whip up those tensions as much Obama has?

      Imagine if he had said at the beginning of this something like:

    ” The death of a 17 year old is always a tragedy, but we should wait to rush to judgement until the facts come out”

    Grace and class just don’t exist for this man.

    • #85
  26. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    That’s from the Tampa Bay Times article. My point is that there are different views on the matter. You might have your opinion, but your condescension, Tommy, was inappropriate and unwarranted.

    • #86
  27. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    And from the reason.com article. Again, you disagree with it, Tommy, but there is another side beyond NPR (whom Reason disagrees with on points in this article.)While it’s true that Florida has eliminated the duty to retreat for people attacked in public, that provision played no role in Zimmerman’s defense or his acquittal. And contrary to what the Times seems to think, giving the defendant the benefit of the doubt is not unique to Florida. It is a basic principle of criminal justice in America.NPR likewise keeps insisting that the Zimmerman case somehow casts doubt on the wisdom or fairness of “stand your ground” laws. In a story that summarized the events leading to Zimmerman’s trial, correspondent Gene Demby said Florida’s “stand-your-ground self-defense law…figured to be a major pillar of Zimmerman’s defense.” No, it didn’t, given his description of the fight. And once the trial started, it was obvious that “stand your ground” had nothing to do with Zimmerman’s defense.

    • #87
  28. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Yet Greg Allen, the NPR reporter covering the trial, said this last week: “Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, Zimmerman need only convince the jury that he was acting in self-defense and was in fear of death or great bodily harm to win acquittal.” Allen forgot to mention that the fear must be reasonable, and he implied that the jury had to be fully convinced by Zimmerman’s story to acquit him, when in fact it only needed reasonable doubt regarding the prosecution’s version of events, in which the shooting was not justified. Most important, Allen conflated “stand your ground” with the general principle, accepted even in states that impose a duty to retreat in public places, that a reasonable fear your life is in jeopardy justifies the use of lethal force.

    • #88
  29. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    You might think that, given all we now know about Zimmerman’s actual defense, critics of “stand your ground” laws would have to find a different, more apposite case to illustrate their concerns. Instead they just barrel along, citing the same phony example again and again, without regard to the facts. It does not inspire confidence in their argument.Addendum: A few commenters note that the jury instructions in Zimmerman’s case included “stand your ground” language:If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    • #89
  30. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    That language is part of the standard jury instruction [3.6(f)] in cases where the defendant claims his use of deadly force was justified. But it is hard to see how it applies to the facts of this case, since Zimmerman claimed he was unable to retreat and therefore did not base his defense on the right to stand your ground. The fact that a legal provision was mentioned in the instructions does not necessarily mean it was relevant in reaching a verdict. For example, the instructions also mentioned accidental killings and attacks on dwellings, neither of which applies to the circumstances of the encounter between Zimmerman and Martin.

    • #90
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.