Race decided the case
This kind of injustice is what black people have had to deal with since we arrived in this country in chains. The fact that we are still dealing with it in 2013 is proof that millions of white people in this country have a very long way to go before they can overcome their racism. [“Fla. verdict doesn’t end national debate,” page one, July 15.]
Too many white people continue to pretend that injustice is a figment of our collective imagination. In reality, the idea that significant injustices do not continue to occur in America is a figment of their imagination.
I want the white people reading this letter to do me a favor. Close your eyes and imagine the exact same set of facts. But this time, imagine that George Zimmerman was black, and Trayvon Martin was a white teenager, wearing a hoodie and walking from the store to his father’s home.
Imagine this black Zimmerman was carrying a gun, had been told by the police not to continue following white Trayvon, and continued to follow him anyway. Then imagine this white Trayvon confronted black Zimmerman and was ultimately shot to death by Zimmerman.
If, under those circumstances, Zimmerman was found “not guilty,” you would probably be more outraged about his acquittal than you were about O.J. Simpson’s. You would have a right to be outraged, just as black people all over this country have a right to be outraged.
This can’t keep happening. Where there is no justice, there can be no peace. The Zimmerman acquittal has just informed the entire world that America is still a very racist place.
William Wheeler, Bellevue
A better-trained Zimmerman could have diffused the situation
I find the juxtaposition of the front-page article on revised training of police recruits [“Police academy 2.0,” page one, July 14] with the piece announcing the innocent verdict in the Zimmerman trial in Florida [“Joy, sorrow as jury lets Zimmerman be free man,” page one, July 14] to be most interesting.
What really struck me was this: How much better would the encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin have gone if Zimmerman had been through the training now being offered by the police academy in Burien?
Surely, Zimmerman viewed himself as a “guardian” of his community, but he lacked the skills he might have acquired through such training that would have enabled him to handle the situation without resorting to using his firearm.
Consider this quote from the article: “ … The academy is focusing on neuroscience and teaching recruits how their brains function. Before they can control others, the thinking goes, they first must understand self-control.”
Maybe we should require some of this basic training for anyone wanting to volunteer or be employed as a security guard, whether for a building, a neighborhood or a gated community.
Sarah Weinberg, Mercer Island
Prosecution, jury mishandled case
I think the recent decision to acquit George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin is a matter of very poor judgment. It was a choice that, in my view, does not fit the justice that the victim deserves.
The jury should have taken a harder look at testimonies of those witnesses who overheard the struggle and the fatal gunshot.
The prosecution has not done a good job in the way they handled this trial; the evidence they collected and presented only served in setting the defendant free in the end.
The law in this area needs a strong and detailed overhaul.
Miriam Pruce, Olympia
Jury made the right, but difficult, legal call
A couple of months ago, I served on a jury for a civil case heard in King County Superior Court, in which neglect of a very elderly patient in a nursing home was alleged. I was surprised, on following the George Zimmerman trial, how similar the dilemma we faced in reaching a verdict was to the one faced by that jury.
The informal consensus of our group was that the nursing home was not anywhere any of us would want ourselves or our families to reside. Nevertheless, we found inadequate grounds to support the allegations of culpable neglect by the nursing staff.
We did not award the suffering woman a dime, and we felt very sad about it, but we had no legal qualms about our evaluation.
This difference between our personal feelings, taking into account everything that we had learned about the nursing home and its staff, versus precise application of the law seems to be exactly the same type of dilemma as was faced by the jury in the Zimmerman trial.
The verdict of this jury was a proper one. A conviction based on a hypothetical scenario for the entire encounter and the sanctimonious idea that “someone must pay,” regardless of the specific application of the law, is simply inconsistent with the instructions issued by the judge.
The women of this jury did not fold under presumptuously moralistic, blatantly racially based pressures, and I, for one, salute them. No one who has not served as they have has a right to be critical.
Ken Meyer, Seattle
If you are white, and want to get away with murder, move to Florida.
Kevin Walsh, Seattle