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July 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM

George Zimmerman vs. Trayvon Martin: The trial of the century

(AP/Photo: Orlando Sentinel - Joe Burbank, Pool)

(AP/Photo: Orlando Sentinel – Joe Burbank, Pool)

Spent fireworks litter the street, testament to America’s celebration of the land of the free. Trayvon Martin should have been celebrating the Fourth of July as well, hanging out with his parents and his friends, doing whatever young people do when the world around them is not treating them like would-be criminals.

Instead, attorneys for the state and for George Zimmerman duke it out in a Sanford, Fla., courthouse about whether or not Martin deserved to die. Did the 17-year-old cause his own death by not turning tail and running when a stranger followed him block after block? Should Martin have been more understanding of what was obviously racial profiling? The questions go on and on.

Forget them.  Here’s the only truth that matters: distilled to its bare essence, this sordid mess began when a man with a 9 mm pistol in his pocket decided to stalk an unarmed teenager. How Trayvon responded to being stalked and how Zimmerman responded to Trayvon comes after a single fateful decision to follow a kid simply for being black in a white neighborhood. That’s all. The rest is white noise emanating from what is quickly becoming the trial of the century. Here’s an Associated Press timeline of Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for killing Martin  back in February 2012. Hours and days of mind-numbing testimony from experts reviewing the smallest pieces of evidence and America’s fixation with the minute details of the trial call to mind the OJ Simpson murder trial.

The possibility that like that other trial, Florida may erupt in anger after the verdict obviously weighs heavily on the minds of state officials.

Unlike with the OJ trial, we have social media now and it is playing  a huge role. People are tweeting the testimony as it happens allowing the public to assess from day to day which side is winning or losing. I saw on Twitter that Zimmerman was quoted by police as saying that he followed Trayvon Martin because the neighborhood had experienced a number of break-ins and “they always get away with it.” Tell me Dear Reader: Who are they?

If you want to kill someone but make it look like self-defense, bother them long enough until they turn around and confront you. Then shoot them.

Another aspect of the trial that bothers me are the arguments about whether a 17 year old is a child. Some say that calling Trayvon a child is a shameless bid for empathy. Let me tell you:  A 7-year-old or a 70-year-old has the right to walk down the street unaccosted.

In every other sense but this murder trial, a 17 is a child. A child who is still required to attend  school, live with his parents and fall under the protection of Child Protective Services. Even Zimmerman thought so, calling Travyvon “this kid,” in his recorded phone call to police.

Zimmerman’s supporters argue that following someone is not illegal. Even if you’re following them because they’re black and you’ve steroetyped all young blacks as criminals.

True. It is not illegal. Its racist and intolerable. If Trayvon was irritated or angered by the man following him, I understanding the feeling.

Some argue that Trayvon should’ve run from the man stalking him. By that logic,  Zimmerman should’ve run from the kid who had discovered he was being stalked. We can go round and round on this.

The most egregious thing from the pro-Zimmerman side is to bring in Trayvon’s school records. So we’re executing marginal students now? Guess that’s even more reason to reform public education. Students lives really may depend on it.

The prosecution is expected to rest its case on Friday. The defense will take its turn and then we’ll have a verdict. Whatever the jury’s verdict, it won’t change the facts: this all started when a grown man armed with a gun stalked a boy for no good reason. Now the boy is dead. The rest is noise.

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