Zimmerman Found Innocent

Reblogged from Yahoo! News:

SANFORD, Fla–George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman whose trial for the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin riveted viewers and sparked a national conversation about race and justice, was found not guilty on all charges Saturday.

Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder in the death of Martin, a 17 year old whom the defendant shot during a scuffle in a nearby gated community on Feb 26, 2012. The six-woman jury also found Zimmerman not guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The jury signaled they had reached a verdict 9:45 pm ET and filed into the courtroom around 10 pm. After the verdict was read, Judge Debra Nelson polled the jurors to make sure each agreed with the decision. She then told Zimmerman he was free to go.

Zimmerman showed little emotion as the verdict was announced.

The decision from the jury had been expected to spark outrage from Martin family supporters who say the teen’s death was ignored by police and prosecutors for weeks because of his race. Martin was black, and Zimmerman is half white and half Hispanic. But more than an hour after court was adjourned, only a handful of demonstrators were outside the courthouse and they were heavily outnumbered by members of the media trying to interview them.

Estefania Galvez, a protester with the national “Justice for Trayvon” group, said protesters will hold a press conference on Sunday at the courthouse to announce a national day of protest on Monday. There were reports of some demonstrations in other cities sparking late Saturday night. Dozens of people marched in San Francisco holding signs in support of Martin, and another spontaneous rally was reported in Washington D.C.

Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read. They later tweeted thanks to their supporters.

“Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control,” Fulton tweeted. “Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!!”

Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, tweeted, “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY,” he wrote.

The jurors deliberated 12 hours on Saturday–including a one-hour lunch during which they were allowed to discuss the case–before alerting the court that they would like the attorneys to clarify the charge of manslaughter. The attorneys on both sides told the jury that they could not speak about the charge “in general terms” but would be happy to answer a more specific question.

The jury never sent back a more specific inquiry. They only made one other request during their deliberations–for an itemized list of all the evidence presented during the trial on Friday. They reached their verdict after 16 hours of deliberating over two days. The jurors, whose identities are protected by a court order, declined an opportunity to talk to the media after the verdict.

In a televised three-week trial, jurors heard the defense and prosecution each paint very different pictures of the night in question. Zimmerman was an angry “wannabe cop” who was seething with anger at a rash of break-ins in his neighborhood when he pursued and shot Martin, the state has argued. The defense, meanwhile, maintained Zimmerman was within his rights to follow and question Martin, and that it was the teen who became violent, prompting Zimmerman to shoot as a way to save his own life.

The case ignited a national debate over self-defense laws and race, prompting marches and demonstrations around the country. Local leaders have urged members of the community to remain peaceful no matter what verdict the jury hands down.

The prosecution failed to convince the jury that Zimmerman had “a depraved mind without regard for human life” when he shot Martin, which was required for second-degree murder. A lesser manslaughter conviction could have been handed down if the jury believed Zimmerman had no lawful reason to kill Martin, even if he bore Martin no ill will. The law says if Zimmerman had a “reasonable” belief that his own life was in jeopardy or that he could suffer bodily harm from Martin, he was justified in killing him.

At a press conference following the verdict, prosecutors expressed disappointment with the outcome but urged the community to remain calm.

“We have from the beginning just prayed for the truth to come out and for peace to be the result and that continues to be our prayers,” prosecutor John Guy said.

But prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda insisted the fundamentals of the case should have favored the prosecution. “We respect the jury’s verdict but really this is about a kid being followed by a stranger,” de la Rionda said.

Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney advising the Martin family, echoed that plea. “For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful,” Crump said at a press conference.

Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, told reporters that he believed Zimmerman will now try to return to a normal life. O’Mara said that Zimmerman was used as a “scapegoat” by people who wanted to create a civil rights violation, and was thus overcharged in the crime. “It certainly wouldn’t have happened if he was black,” O’Mara said of his client being charged with murder.

O’Mara also compared the media to “mad scientists” who had turned his client into a “monster” with shoddy reporting.

O’Mara mentioned that he will vigorously defend any forthcoming civil charges against his client, and that he may seek to recoup some of Zimmerman’s defense costs from the state.

Witnesses gave conflicting testimony over who was the aggressor of the fight and both Zimmerman’s family and Martin’s family have claimed it was their relative who could be heard screaming for help in the background of a 911 call during the fight.

Zimmerman wasn’t arrested in the shooting for weeks, after a public outcry. Bill Lee, then the police chief of Sanford, said Zimmerman was justified under Florida’s stand your ground self defense law. Lee lost his job after the incident, and a special prosecutor was appointed to argue the case.

Republicans & Gay Marriage

Something big is about to happen in America. Something that will change American society forever. Just now, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided to take in the case of gay marriage. Its desicion can declare whether gay marriage is constitutional, unconstitutional, or the court can in fact avoid ruling on it at all. But even it does, it will still have an impact on America. So now society is bitterly divided again: one for gay marriage, the other anti-gay. In other words, one Democrat, and the other Republican, respectively. And the Democrats have the upper-hand on this one.

Now, I’m not saying here that I’m being stereotypical about the parties. Yes, I do know that some Republicans are pro-gay (such as Portman) and that some Dems are anti-gay. But the fact is that the general GOP is anti-gay and the general Democrat Party is pro-gay.

And again, the Dems have the upper-hand on this. In other words, the GOP is on the wrong side of the table. Why? First of all, in order for the GOP to be anything of a notable party, it has to win elections. And it especially has to win presidential elections at least once in a while. The problem? More and more young people are becoming pro-gay, or at least more tolerant of gays. The fact that the GOP is pushing against this tide is not a good sign for them, as that will mean less young voters for them. Yes, the Grand Old Party does have an advantage among old people, but so what? These old voters are all gonna die off soon and won’t be hanging around much longer.

So what makes the GOP less attractive to young voters  than Dems? This leads to the second problem of the GOP- it is too religion-based. It seems almost as if the Christian religion has become a policy of the Republicans, and perhaps the reason for this is that the GOP is based primarily on its evangelical base. Think about it- anti-abortion, anti-gay, all of these positions are mostly Christian ones. You might think this is going to attract Christian youth, but hey, I’m a Christian youth and I don’t like the GOP. Look, I love the Christian religion, but I hate it when Christianity gets into politics. And that is what exactly the GOP is doing here. So it seems that this evangelical base is the problem- the GOP, in order to survive, will have to change a few positions without alienating their evangelical base. But that’s going to be a really hard thing, which leads to…

Rob Portman

The third problem- the GOP is just simply too conservative. Or perhaps another better word- stubborn. Especially the hard-core Republican evangelical base. Again, look at Rob Portman. After having realized his own son as gay, he then decided to become pro-gay. My first thought was that his own party would help him come through this hard realization. But what did the GOP do? Why, they shunned him! He wasn’t invited into CPAC; in fact, he was viewed as a traitor! Man, that is one stubborn case right there. Perhaps the only thing that will move this base is if each and every one of their sons became gay. In other words, they need personal experiences.

So these three problems I have mentioned are big damn problems. So what has the GOP resorted to doing? Making lame comebacks saying why gay marriage is bad. One popular reason they say- will, it’s simply just immoral, according to the Bible. Okay, look, I don’t like it when Christianity is involved with politics. Oh yeah, by the way, not everybody’s Christian. Nice try with that reason. And by saying that something’s simply immoral is not enough. I need more to be convinced.

Another lame comeback- A Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage will “forever sever the ties between marriage and children” and discourage heterosexual couples from marrying. Yes, those are the same exact words in which Republicans have said it. Either the GOP has become so desperate or so insane that they came up with this lame reason. Hello, but the logic doesn’t make sense. Just because the Supreme Court says gay marriage is constitutional does not mean all of a sudden I will become gay myself. I will still remain heterosexual, whether gay marriage is approved or not. And I’m pretty sure tons of heterosexual couples will still keep on marrying.

There are much more other lame combacks from the GOP, but for now, I will not post anymore. The last straw of anti-gayness that the GOP has been holding on to is that the federal court is overreaching into the gay marriage case. In other words, the government is getting too involved. To me, this sounds like the GOP is wimpering this because they know they will lose. Is the federal court truly overreaching? I think that now is the perfect time to settle this case. I think gay marriage truly is a constitutional issue, because a fair amount of discrimination is being involved here. Now is the time to settle gay marriage, and put an end to the bickering between anti-gays and pro-gays. Just like the Supreme Court ended the civil rights issue by putting once and for all that blacks are equals, so should it do the same for gays. Because I believe this pro-gay movement is a civil rights movement, a movement demanding equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation. And to the GOP- good luck, because they’ll need it.

Racism Will Always Exist And Our Need To Embrace It

One of the most touchy subjects, especially in America, is the subject of race. Ever since the beginning of civilization, racism existed. Yet, gradually, reforms were being made. First came the abolishing of  slavery in many nations, and next came civil rights movements across the world, including Africa and America. The result from all these civil rights leaders was a theoretically color-blind society.

Many of these leaders, such as Martin Luther King, called for an end to racism and to discrimination. Yes, these goals were good and had high morality, yet there is one problem: the society we live in today is not an Utopian society. Racism will always exist, and exists to even this very day. Many optimistic people might believe that this is not the case, but let me point out a few examples.

One minor example happened in my class this morning, in which my history teacher was white and most of my classmates were Asian. We were talking about World War II, when all of a sudden one of my classmates, (let’s call him Evan) made a funny face. My history teacher told him to stop making that funny face. Soon after, another Asian classmate (call him Chang) made the comment that he looked like an Asian with his narrow eyes. I was thinking that if the history teacher had made that comment, he would have been in big trouble. However, Chang was able to comment as such simply because he was Asian himself. Why, I thought, this is not fair. Either everybody can’t make that comment, or everybody can. The fact that certain people can make certain type of racist comments just shows how society is still concerned with race. In a sense, this is racism- we are differentiating between the races.

Travyon Martin (right) and George Zimmerman

Perhaps a better example is the Travyon Martin case. Just because a half-white guy (George Zimmerman) shot an African-American doesn’t mean that the shooter is a racist. Yet, sadly, the media and many people are portraying him as such. Why so? Perhaps because society notices these differences in the race of the victim and the race of the offender, and so the stereotypical situation arises, in which whenever a white shoots a black, the white is a black-hater. As a result, a big irony comes out- in the process of society trying to portray Zimmerman as a racist, society becomes racist itself.

The best example I have seen is the elections, specifically the 2012 presidential elections. Many, more than many times have I seen the media talking about Latinos for Obama, women for Obama, white males for Romney, blah, blah, blah, etc. It may be a fact that there are more Latinos rooting for Obama, but isn’t this supposed to be a color-blind society? Aren’t we supposed to not classify voters based on their race, and in some cases gender? Isn’t this how it’s supposed to be?

Again, this goes back to my statement that we are not living in an Utopian society. Racism will always exist, because it is inevitable that we notice the difference of skin color between different people. So what do we do now? Rather than see all racism as bad, we have to embrace it. Not embracing the intolerance sort of racism, such as hating all Asians. Nor the racism encountered in the Travyon Martin case. Rather, society should embrace the differences. Let it be okay for a white man to make an Asian race comment, as long as it is not demeaning to Asians. Let it be okay to classify voters based on ethnicity. Let us consider all of us racists, and let us consider that a good trait, for by noticing the differences between race is one exposed to the incredible diversity of society. Racism is not always a bad thing. In fact, it is perhaps necessary for a good, diverse society.