THE BLOG

Blame State of Florida for Zimmerman Verdict

07/17/2013 11:08 am ET | Updated Sep 16, 2013

I am white, Jewish, greater than middle-age, and have voted for Reagan, Clinton, Perot and Obama (twice). So what does that make me if I say that the American public should give George Zimmerman some slack and blame the State of Florida if anyone did not like the verdict of six of Zimmerman's peers -- a racist? Hardly.

While it is tragic for anyone to lose their life at the end of a gun's muzzle (except,of course, those who our laws say can result otherwise), the loss of young Mr. Martin's life is no less tragic than the children who were mercilessly gunned down at Sandy Hook, or those taken from their loved ones on the streets of Chicago, at Columbine, in Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere in our nation. But if one listens to the various media broadcasts on the verdict and its aftermath, the tweets finding the verdict shocking that pundits read on the air, the emails of a similar vein finding their way into the public spotlight, the sidewalk marches and street protests, the church services that mentioned Trayvon, and the heartfelt grief that his family members and their lawyers have expressed on the public airwaves, one would conclude that George Zimmerman pulled a fast one in Florida's legal system, and got away with a crime. Even the headline of The Huffington Post after the verdict came down read not guilty but not innocent. And Stevie Wonder has now declared he won't perform in any state that keeps in place stand your ground laws and Martin Luther King was been portrayed wearing a hoodie. The plain fact is that Zimmerman was unsuccessfully tried, so let him live a life that our laws say he is entitled to live and pursue. Despite a confluence of factors -- a person of color in a primarily white neighborhood who was preceded by suspicious criminal activity perpetrated by one or more of color but who then leveled physical abuse on a person who could lawfully use a gun if in fear of great bodily harm or death, there was a finding of not guilty and therefore innocence. If one wishes to find morality what went on, a court of law is not where it will be found.

If those who grieve for the loss of a 17-year-old, it is not because Mr. Zimmerman should continue to be punished in the court of public opinion. The facts are clear here: (1) the State of Florida told him he could possess a gun; (2) the State of Florida told him that he could carry that firearm concealed; and (3) the State of Florida told him that he could use that gun in self-defense if he believed, again, he was in fear of great bodily harm or death. The State of Florida also provides that if a jury of one's peers finds reasonable doubt, there cannot be a conviction on the charges asserted. For those who are outraged, go protest the State of Florida. Attack as well the N.R.A. After all, they have, and will continue to say, that everyone should possess the right to carry a gun and carry it concealed. (Illinois just passed its concealed gun law amidst great debate and an override of the governor's amendatory veto). So what happened in Sanford, Florida, while truly tragic, was merely the result of the N.R.A. and its ilk saying the Second Amendment is the be and end all for gun rights advocates.

Another observation needs to be made. Recall the genesis of this case: It was the hue and cry of the likes of civil rights advocates, like the Rev. Al Sharpton. This followed the Sanford PD not charging Zimmerman, at least initially. What, a white (actually, Hispanic) guy shooting a black teenager who supposedly did nothing wrong while going home with a bag of Skittles and not being arrested? Even the local prosecutor did not wish to bring charges. While all in the media seemed to say this case did not involve the race card, it sure seemed that way, particularly with the outrage afterwards. Why, then, all the public attention from the start? Sharpton, etc., had every right to advocate as they did; but their advocacy and going to the media with a fact pattern that should never have been the basis of a criminal complaint led to undue pressure on public officials to file one. As the verdict within recent days has showed, those facts should never have dictated the filing of charges. The case dripped with reasonable doubt, and the Martin boy did not have a halo over his head if the physical injuries to Zimmerman were any indication. Again, the pressure from the media and outside forces supplanted what law enforcement officials uncovered and what lawyers should have seen as never amounting to what would be needed to convict at some point in the future.

Now, we hear calls for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate for criminal civil rights violations, have litigated civil wrongful death lawsuit(s), and for a civil rights lawsuit to be filed too. Why? The facts and circumstances have already been vetted for months and then brought to trial with a defense verdict. Those who support the Martin family need to step back and look at what Florida allowed Zimmerman to do and realize that their state's legal system operated properly and resulted in an outcome they did not like. One side "wins" and one side "loses" in a court of law. But, as we all know, there probably will never be a winner in this case, as the Martin lad is dead and Mr. Zimmerman has to put back his life together but with a permanent stain on it. But to call for further investigations and lawsuits would be, well, spurious and very ill-founded. Let's not repeat what took place that resulted in the State-Zimmerman lawsuit that should never have been filed in the first instance.

Folks, blame the State of Florida for what happened to Trayvon, not George Zimmerman. Let Zimmerman go on with his life. He was found innocent.