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Op-Ed Special
Miscarriage of Justice
By Carlton U. Forbes
Staff Writer & Columnist
George Zimmerman

There is a lot to be said about the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. There are a lot of unanswered questions that will haunt the parents of the unarmed teenage boy for years to come. There is a lot of disagreement and resentment about the verdict to fuel impassioned debates for a while; at least until the next headline-grabbing incident. For supporters of unfettered access to guns, and the "Stand your Ground Law," the verdict is vindication of their rights to bear arms, and use it to protect themselves. But for those who see Trayvon as an innocent lad, slain by an overzealous neighborhood watchman, the verdict represents a miscarriage of justice.

Considering the fact that no cameras captured the so-called altercation between Zimmerman and Martin, some things we will never know. We will never really know the unvarnished truth about the confrontation that resulted in the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. That’s because Martin is forever silenced by the events of that fateful rainy night. So George Zimmerman's gets to peddle his side of the story with impunity.

Consequently, most people take the easy path by faulting either the victim or the man who shot him to death. Others simply play the race card, calling Zimmerman a racist, and accusing him of unfairly profiling a teenager boy because of his color and his hoodie; pursuing him without probable cause, provoking him without reason, murdering him in cold blood, feigning an attack, and claiming self defense to justify his crime.

Lacking a surveillance video or credible eye-witnesses, the scant details of that night's events must be reconciled with Mr. Zimmerman's recollection. Martin's phone record shows, he was talking to someone just moments before he was shot and killed. Reportedly, Martin told Rachel Jeantel that someone was following him. Shortly after, the line went dead, and that's when everything else got murky.

George Zimmerman asserts that he saw a seemingly suspicious person he thought was up to no good. He called 911, informed the operator, and was advised not to pursue the individual. However, for reasons unknown, the neighborhood watchman decided to ignore that advice, and pursued Martin anyway.

After losing sight of the subject, Zimmerman was returning to his SUV when suddenly, Martin came out of the darkness and attacked him. The two of them got involved in a violent scuffle. After allegedly breaking Zimmerman's nose, and banging his head on the pavement, Martin noticed the gun, and attempted to snatch it. Fearing for his life, Zimmerman pulled his weapon and terminated the perceived threat. Strangely enough, Martin managed to touch the gun without leaving any finger prints on it.

Also, according to the coroner's report, there is no physical evidence on Martin's hands that prove he was involved in the vicious scuffle Zimmerman described. Even after Giving supposedly Zimmerman a bleeding nose and bloody gashes in the scalp, not even a spot of blood got unto Martin's clothes. That is a remarkable anomaly. Also, the initial investigator who questioned Zimmerman noted that his narrative of the events seemed contrived.

Long before Martin's parents were informed about the death of their son, Zimmerman had time to rehearse his narrative of the tragedy. So it is no small wonder that Martin's parents and others suspect that the police may have helped to stage a cover-up. Naturally, such a high profile case was bound to cause controversy, no matter the outcome. Why? Well, as US president Barak H. Obama once said, "There are those who tend to view most issues through the prism of race."

Still, regardless of our ethnic identity, ideological leanings or political persuasion, it is hard to remain indifferent about the recent verdict and its obvious implications. Clearly, the civil rights of the underprivileged are being undermined by callous "Stand your Ground Laws and an unfair judicial system." Some say that the shooting death of Martin was a clear case of self-defense, pure and simple. Perhaps!

In that case, then John McNeil of Georgia should have been exonerated, just like Martin. Instead, he got a life sentence, and was forced to plead guilty to a lesser charge, just so he could care for his cancer stricken wife during her dying months. Awkwardly, the numbing silence of the Stand Your Ground Laws' supporters on McNeil's behalf is very disquieting.

As a father of three sons, I teach them to show the utmost respect for their elders, police officers, teachers, and other authority figures. Now, what do I tell them about characters like Zimmerman who may view them as suspicious, pursue them, and do bodily harm to them? Should I instruct them to comply with the wishes of any inquiring stranger out of fear of getting shot? That would only increase their vulnerability to kidnappers, sexual predictors, and other malcontents.

In his initial response to the verdict, the President stated, "we are a nation of laws; a jury has spoken." True! Ironically, the same thing was said about the O.J. Simpson verdict. Yet, the reaction then was equally contentious and controversial.

Still, both cases are positive proof that the judicial system works well for the powerful upper-class, the rich and well-connected. The disadvantaged, poor and underclass will have to keep hoping that one day they'll get more than another disappointing miscarriage of justice.

The writer currently teaches Global English at Pusan National University. He has also authored a forthcoming book “A Few Choice Words.” He can be reached at cuforbes@gmail.com



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Carlton U. Forbes, who serves as staff writer & columnist for The Seoul Times, currently teaches Global English at Dongyang University in S. Korea's Yeongju City. Among the books he authored are "A Few Choice Words" and "ESL Teaching Aids." A resident of S. Korea for over a decade Prof. Forbes can be reached at cuforbes@gmail.com

 

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