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. 

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam

    DC, you’re right that they did not explicitly use it as their defense, but the jury did use SYG as a consideration according to this article.  

    • #91
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    WS—also from the Tampa Bay Times article: A juror in the George Zimmerman trial broke her silence Monday night on national TV to say Florida’s ” stand your ground” laws played a role in the decision to acquit the Sanford neighborhood watch captain.But the woman, identified only as Juror B37, also said she had ” no doubt” Zimmerman feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin, and that was the definitive factor in the verdict. The juror spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 on Monday.That matched the assessment of legal experts who earlier Monday were describing the verdict on Saturday as the result of successful, garden-variety self-defense arguments that could sway a jury in any state.Though these observers said Florida’s expanded self-defense law, which says citizens can ” stand their ground” rather than retreat in the face of a deadly threat has emboldened citizens to take unnecessary risks and led to an increase in homicides, they detected little impact on the Zimmerman case.

    • #92
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Please let me reiterate, and you already stated it in #95, WS, is all I said was that the defense did not base their case on syg. That is true. The impact of syg, however, is obviously debated with various views. That is also my point.

    • #93
  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    D.C. McAllister: 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. · 12 hours ago

    Condescension?  Where in the world did you get that?

    I can’t point out something incorrect in a statement you made without being accused of condescension? 

    Mollie did the same to you and I didn’t see you claim that of her.

    I apologize if you felt that way.

    You can cite any magazine you wish but what governs is the jury charge.  Stand your ground was used by the defense and charged by the court within the very law the jury used to acquit the defendant.

    NPR and Reason magazine can have an opinion but they can’t change the facts.

    • #94
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    D.C., in 93 you talk to the fact that the “critics keep citing the same phony example again and again.” This is exactly what happens with the entire debate over the 2nd Amendment. In fact, I believe that at some level the Administration and its DOJ was using this trial as just one more red herring  in the gun control debate. The President’s statement a couple of days ago demonstrated that that was likely his motivation from the beginning, as it has been every time there has been an incident involving the use of a gun (barring, of course, the slaughter of young Black men in Chicago at the hands of other young Black men which we are supposed to pretend isn’t happening.)

    • #95
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister
    Tommy De Seno

    Condescension?  Where in the world did you get that?

    I can’t point out something incorrect in a statement you made without being accused of condescension? 

    Mollie did the same to you and I didn’t see you claim that of her.

    NPR and Reason magazine can have an opinion but they can’t change the facts. 

    Interesting that you’ve concluded that I must not like to be disagreed with. Why make that conclusion when, as you stated yourself, I didn’t react that way before, not with you in our first interchange, Mollie, or Whiskey Sam. People disagree with me all the time. I expect it. I welcome it. I learn from it. Trying to explain to you why your comments in #70 can be perceived as condescending is probably futile, so I won’t bother. It doesn’t matter anyway, not really. 

    As for the facts of the case and the issue at hand, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. While I don’t agree with everything Mark Levin says, I’ll take his inestimable legal expertise over most anyone else’s any day, and he disagrees with you.

    • #96
  7. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno
    D.C. McAllister

    Tommy De Seno

    Condescension?  Where in the world did you get that?

    I can’t point out something incorrect in a statement you made without being accused of condescension? 

    Mollie did the same to you and I didn’t see you claim that of her.

    NPR and Reason magazine can have an opinion but they can’t change the facts. 

    As for the facts of the case and the issue at hand, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. While I don’t agree with everything Mark Levin says, I’ll take his inestimable legal expertise over most anyone else’s any day, and he disagrees with you. · 27 minutes ago

    My last jury trial ended Thursday.   I’m not sure about Levin’s trial experience.

    • #97
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Tommy—I didn’t just get it from NPR. I got it from several sources, including Reason.com and others. I just used the NPR one as an example. Reason article: “Sorry, the Zimmman Case Still Has Nothing to Do with stand Your Ground”http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/14/sorry-the-zimmerman-case-still-has-nothihttp://reason.com/blog/2013/07/15/zimmermans-prosecutors-did-not-think-thehttp://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/despite-outcry-zimmermans-acquittal-was-not-based-on-stand-your-ground-laws/2131629While I realize there’s back and forth out there about how the syg law impacted the case (there’s an Atlantic article about that I believe), my only point was that the defense didn not build its case on it. A year ago O’Mara said he wouldn’t use syg. See CBS http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57492488/george-zimmermans-attorneys-wont-use-stand-your-ground-defense/

    • #98
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, waived his right for a pretrial immunity hearing, allowed under ” stand your ground” law. Although the words ” stand your ground” were seldom heard during the five-week trial, protesters have called for the repeal of ” stand your ground” in light of the verdict.Experienced prosecutors and law professors agreed that they think jurors were swayed by basic self-defense arguments made by Zimmerman’s attorneys: Regardless of who initiated the encounter, at the moment the deadly shot was fired, Zimmerman feared for his life.”I can see a similar outcome in jurisdictions without ’stand your ground’ for the mere fact that the best eyewitness to counter the defense strategy was dead,” said Darren Lenard Hutchinson, a professor of race and civil rights law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. ” That’s the terrible reality. The jurors saw a bloodied nose and that may have been enough for them.”

    • #99
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Jurors were also instructed by the judge that if they had ”reasonable doubt” about the second-degree murder or manslaughter charges against Zimmerman, they had no choice but to find him not guilty.Bob Dekle, a retired prosecutor who also teaches at UF Law, said, ” ’Stand your ground’ turns out to have been a huge red herring (in the Zimmerman case.) The result very well could have been the same prior to enactment of the law.”Dekle, a critic of ”stand your ground” provisions, said that even if a person initiates a fight, they always have had the right to defend themselves if they’re in fear of death or great bodily harm. ”You don’t forfeit your right to do whatever you need to do to live simply because you’ve been a jerk,” Dekle said.

    • #100
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DCMcAllister

    Those comments are no surprise to Sen. Tom Lee, Republican from Brandon, who was president of the Florida Senate when stand your ground legislation was passed in 2005.”I have yet to talk to anyone who believes the stand your ground provisions were remotely relevant to this case,” said Lee, who believes the law is working the way it was intended. ”For me, this case centered on your right to defend yourself.”Lee said that’s why the Sanford police did not immediately arrest Zimmerman after he acknowledged killing Martin in February 2012 and why the prosecutor initially decided not to prosecute.”But once the prosecution decided to try the case, the questions were: Did Zimmerman have a right to defend himself? Was there an environment that evening that gave a reasonable person belief he or she was in danger? That’s traditional self-defense,” Lee said. ” He still had a right to defend himself because he was in fear of his life.”

    • #101
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