The story that George Zimmerman told about his fight with Trayvon Martin, the one that yesterday persuaded a jury to acquit him of second-degree murder and manslaughter, never had anything to do with the right to stand your ground when attacked in a public place. Knocked down and pinned to the ground by Martin, Zimmerman would not have had an opportunity to escape as Martin hit him and knocked his head against the concrete. The duty to retreat therefore was irrelevant. The initial decision not to arrest Zimmerman, former Sanford, Florida, Police Chief Bill Lee said last week (as paraphrased by CNN), “had nothing to do with Florida’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law” because “from an investigative standpoint, it was purely a matter of self-defense.” And as The New York Times explained last month, “Florida’s Stand Your Ground law…has not been invoked in this case.” The only context in which “stand your ground” was mentioned during the trial was as part of the prosecution’s attempt to undermine Zimmerman’s credibility by arguing that he lied when he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he had not heard of the law until after the shooting. During his rebuttal on Friday, prosecutor John Guy declared, “This case is not about standing your ground.”
So how did Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, respond to Zimmerman’s acquittal last night? By announcing that “we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state.”
Because they are, as usual, willing to try to exploit tragedy for political gain. Zimmerman’s case isn’t about black-white relations either — both Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman (who’s blacker than Homer Plessy) would be counted as African-American by any college “diversity” office in America, and Zimmerman was hispanic, too, but from the press coverage you’d think he was Bull Connor. The only thing that Zimmerman has in common with Bull Connor, though, is that Bull Connor was a Democrat too.
Meanwhile, people are raising a case that actually did involve stand your ground — the case of Marissa Alexander — as evidence of racial bias in the judicial system. But Angela Corey was the prosecutor there, and she seems to want to lock up anyone who uses a gun in self-defense. The main difference seems to be that the jury in the Alexander case believed Corey, though that may simply be because Zimmerman got better representation. Which opens up a whole different kettle of judicial fish that I doubt anyone really wants to talk about.