July 17, 2013 at 4:33 PM
George Zimmerman’s acquittal
Letter missed the big picture
William Wheeler’s letter to the editor was thought-provoking and I enjoyed reading it; however, it uses the term “racism” where the term “bigotry” should be used. [“Northwest Voices: Trayvon Martin case,” Opinion, July 16.]
Racism is institutional, and the incident itself wasn’t institutional, and I don’t believe that the outcome of the trial indicates racism. The United States does have bigots of all stripes.
So, is it politically correct to protest a verdict that you feel is unjust? If you believe that the Constitution grants you free speech, then yes.
When you use your imagination as Wheeler suggests, close your eyes to imagine that you are O.J. Simpson sitting in the witness box on trial for murder, or that you are Zimmerman sitting in the courtroom on trial for second-degree murder or manslaughter, and ask yourself if you believe that the Constitution of the United States requires that the case against you be proved beyond all shadow of a doubt.
My guess is that you will want to imagine that it does, and understand that a jury of one’s peers is going to do its best to come to a rational decision. Anything else would result in a justice system based on revenge.
There are those who believe that this case means it’s open season on young black males in Florida. I don’t think the law is set up for that, but perhaps the solution is actually education of all students in the United States.
Can you imagine the outcome of the confrontation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin if even one of them had been taught to de-escalate confrontations in health class, or church, or Boy Scouts?
Keith Wellman, Freeland
Letter omitted facts
William Wheeler assumes I have not imagined the events of the George Zimmerman trial with their races reversed.
However, Wheeler omitted important facts that, in this scenario, the black Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch that was formed because white youths were vandalizing their homes. He omitted that the white Trayvon described “some n-word” that was following him.
Wheeler left out the question of how the smaller man ended up straddling the bigger man when the gun was fired (the answer is he sucker-punched him).
After reviewing all the facts, I not only imagine a black Zimmerman would be not guilty, but since the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would not being yelling about racism, this case would never have been brought to trial if Zimmerman was black.
When the NAACP alleges racism and brings cases that have bad fact patterns to national attention, it loses credibility with me.
Don Taylor, Brier
Case was legal, not racial
Outrage over the acquittal of the George Zimmerman, based on perceived racial injustice, is badly misplaced.
While racial profiling arguably led up to the incident, once a brawl ensued, all of Zimmerman’s preceding actions, including profiling Trayvon Martin and disregarding police instructions, became irrelevant under the law.
The prosecution had an impossible burden because the only witness with a clear view of what happened was Zimmerman — who, under the law, was entitled to defend himself with lethal force if he reasonably perceived his life in danger.
In criminal trials, the prosecution must present evidence rebutting self-defense claims beyond a reasonable doubt. Zimmerman had exclusive control of the self-defense evidence. There was plenty of doubt here.
If the jury members considered only the trial evidence and faithfully followed the court’s instructions, they really had no option but to acquit. Wheeler mentions the O.J. Simpson case. That’s an odd reference, since a black man was acquitted in that case because the prosecution failed to convince the jury Simpson was guilty beyond reasonable doubt — the same rule that freed the white man in this case.
To those outraged by the Zimmerman verdict I ask: What part of “beyond a reasonable doubt” don’t you understand?
Jerry Cronk, Shoreline
It seems to me that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your opinions. [“Editorial: The next step after the Trayvon Martin case,” Opinion, July 16.]
I have two points to note. One is that George Zimmerman is indeed innocent in the eyes of the law and under the U.S. Constitution, unless he is proved guilty in a court of law by a jury of his peers.
Second, the defense was based upon a claim of self-defense, and had nothing to do with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Donald Devlin, Lakewood
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