Why exactly I’m so outraged and you should be too

Zimmerman was acquitted because he couldn’t be convicted beyond reasonable doubt. This means even if you believe a defendant is guilty, if there is not enough evidence, you must return to a verdict of not guilty.

Except that, oddly, Zimmerman wasn’t the one on trial; Trayvon was.

The only absolutely undeniable fact in this case is that Zimmerman shot Trayvon. Therefore, the burden of proof is on Zimmerman and his defense to provide evidence that Trayvon had attacked him first. In order to acquit Zimmerman, who had beyond reasonable doubt killed Trayvon, we have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Trayvon attacked him.

And the jury took this for granted.

There’s loads of reason to believe that Trayvon didn’t attack first. A forensic expert noted that if Trayvon were as close as Zimmerman claimed, we would “expect to see high velocity blood spatter (mist-like spray of blood drops about 1 mm in diameter) or blowback on the barrel of Zimmerman’s gun, his shooting hand, and the sleeve of his jacket.” There was no blood spray.

Despite the fact that Zimmerman claims Trayvon punched him several times, there were no bruises or signs of repeated trauma on Trayvon’s knuckles or hands, only a small scratch below the knuckle of his pinky. Forensic experts noted that the cuts on Zimmerman’s nose were minor. The head injury, also minor, appeared to gush blood because that is characteristic of a head injury.

Trayvon’s friend Rachel was on the phone with him to the last minute. She heard Trayvon ask, “Why are you following me?” (which differs greatly in tone to “You got a problem?”–Zimmerman’s version) and Zimmerman reply, “What are you doing here?” followed by a shout from Trayvon, “Get off!”

The bold suggests that when the attack occurred Zimmerman was still the one following, despite his claim that Trayvon had reversed the pursuit.

I don’t doubt (because I am the most reasonable woman in the world) that Trayvon punched him in the nose. Probably at this point. This was self-defense, because he wanted Zimmerman to “get off.” Trayvon was rather patient. It would have taken all my restraint to keep from punching Zimmerman in the nose right after he asked, “What are you doing here?” (Me? What the fuck are YOU doing here?) The question itself demonstrates a belief shared nation-wide that Trayvon does not have the right to be in public places as he pleases–or to exist. Zimmerman was by all means the one acting like a creeper, stalking people around in the rain, which he is largely viewed as having the right to do. Rachel mentioned she thought on the phone he was a rapist. Considering Zimmerman’s molested his niece for two decades, Trayvon and Rachel had good reason to worry.

Really, what was Zimmerman doing there? The women of the jury are certainly white far before they are women.

Objectively, it is Zimmerman who, because he shot and killed Trayvon, needs to prove the person he killed posed life-threatening danger. But that’s not what happened because Trayvon–unlike fetuses–from the very beginning, had no right to live.

To pronounce Zimmerman not guilty really means to pronounce Trayvon guilty, even with reasonable doubt, of attacking him unwarranted, when we have no evidence to support this, and in fact forensic evidence is against Zimmerman’s (false) witness. Zimmerman lied about Trayvon’s exact words–he lied about who struck first too.

Even if Trayvon punched him first, the wounds on Zimmerman were proven to be minor, and not nearly severe enough to make allowable the use of a gun.

As far as the dialogue, if it’s Zimmerman’s–a liar on record–word against Rachel’s, I’d rather believe cool and collected Rachel Jeantel, whom one of the white women on the jury accused of being “uneducated.” Uneducated? The girl is 18. Is she supposed to have three college degrees?

The judgement was obviously made on race. The trial itself was about race the minute they decided not to put black people in the jury.

To anyone who isn’t white, this establishes what you knew already: the burden of proof is always on you–even if you’re the one dead.

Thanks to the same conservatives who are always on the wrong side of history, the possession of a gun is not considered enough of an imminent threat to punch someone in the nose for terrorizing you with one.

About Nahida

Nahida writes novels she never finishes, shorter creative pieces, and bad poetry. She has interests in Islam, feminism, philosophy, astronomy, neurology, and daydreaming, and lives by the San Andreas Fault.
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9 Responses to Why exactly I’m so outraged and you should be too

  1. You have got to see the racist comments that were made by some of the jurors when interviewed by CNN. Something along the lines of understanding that Zimmerman was just trying to protect the neighborhood from “people like that.”

  2. I’ll never forget doing jury duty in New York City. An assault case; the defendant was a black man. After a week of testimony, and then the judge’s instructions, we went back to the jury room. The first thing out of a juror’s mouth was: “We know he did it; what is the punishment?” Heads nodded in approval.

    There were two jurors who weren’t “white”; me and another woman. It fell on us to explain, stunned, that there was a presumption of innocence and the judge meted out punishment, not us. Our job was to determine guilt, and degree thereof, which would lead to a sentence.

    This quickly devolved into us turning into parrots of reason: “Beyond a reasonable doubt…”, we endlessly repeated. At the end, we acquitted. Why? Because the other jurors, so ready to “throw the book” at the man before even hearing his case, didn’t want to be bothered with sequestration. They basically said, “he’s yours; he’s free. We’re out of here.”

    From that moment on, I realized I never wanted to be tried by a “jury of my peers”.

  3. MercatoR says:

    I’m not going to dispute the facts of the case, as I have not closely followed the trial. But I have to disagree about your assertion of where the burden of proof lies in this case.
    The fifth amendment says : no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. The burden of proof always lies with the prosecution. A trial is not about whether a person is guilty or not. A trial is about whether the State has the power to punish, imprison or execute a suspect. That’s where innocent until proven guilty comes from.
    As a matter of fact, in Islamic jurisprudence, the burden of proof also lies with the prosecution. It’s just a matter of logic, really.

    • Nahida says:

      Please look up “affirmative defense.” Thanks.

      • MercatoR says:

        I looked it up, and you’re partially right. Zimmermann wouldn’t have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Trayvon attacked him. He actually would only have to introduce elements (like his injuries after the incident for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin#Sanford_Police_investigation) that suggest that he might have been acting in self defense, thus introducing a “reasonable doubt” that invalidates the prosecution’s case. In clear, he has a lesser burden of proof.
        As far as I know, this trial was politically motivated. The detective in charge of the case declared publicly that he was pressured to file charges even though he thought there weren’t enough evidence.

      • Nahida says:

        I don’t see the relevance of your last paragraph, and I didn’t see the relevance of the last paragraph in your comment before this either. (Unless you’re Muslim, mentioning that the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor in Islam sounds like a presumptuous way of appeasing someone based solely on the [incorrect] belief that her religion ought to closely dictate her interpretation of secular government. And even if you are Muslim, it sounds like a lecture, and I assure you I haven’t the patience for a religious sermon from random strangers.)

        Considering that Zimmerman’s (insignificant) wounds were treated at the scene of his crime, and were not even substantial enough to need hospital care (whereas Trayvon was shot dead) Zimmerman failed to prove it was necessary to use lethal force to defend himself, and he certainly failed to prove Trayvon initiated any attack. The testimony of the defendant who claims self-defense will not suffice as evidence, particularly because the fact that Zimmerman followed is certain, and his claim that he then turned around is not. The jury had no reason to believe Zimmerman followed Trayvon for a while and then randomly decided to turn around. His injuries, which I won’t doubt were caused by Trayvon, are also not sufficient evidence to make lawful the use of lethal force.

        Thus, even with the interpretation that Zimmerman had lesser burden of proof, he failed to prove even that his life was threatened–in fact, he failed to prove even that he turned around. His belief that is life was threatened is not enough; if this were true, it would have been demonstrated in precedent, and it would indicate that anyone can commit murder with a claim to believe it had been necessary and with unsubstantial evidence. (Since you evoked the powers of “common sense” I trust you can gather this isn’t.) Despite the implication of this verdict, a woman in Florida (who did not even kill her husband) was sentenced to 20 years in prison despite having the belief he was threatening her. The man himself confirmed this belief was legitimate, and yet the verdict demonstrated her burden of proof was not lesser.

        Had the verdict in the Zimmerman case been consistent with all cases in Florida, I would conclude that the justice system is merely ineffective. I am concluding instead that it is faulty–deliberately.

      • Perfectchild says:

        1. Someone stalking me? I would not confront. I would make no assumptions of intent and get out of there, or if slowly cornered to my home prepare to neutralise the danger.

        One person had scraped knuckles and bullet wound, the other a bashed head.

        One person has traces of illegal highs, the other legal suppressants.

        Not a good combination for any rational discussion between two people. ( I query the right for anyone to carrying a gun when on psychotic medication).

        I would argue that Trayvon Martin was defending his position. A guy followed him home on a rainy night and in his mind he was going to stop it with his fists. (He had earlier circled George Zimmerman’s car to warn him that he was on to him and should expect trouble).

        I also suspect George was so mellowed on his prescription drugs (‘cos that’s how they are supposed to work at the correct dosage ) that his mission to rid the estate of young fatherless black men prowling around was the most important thing to do, and that he and Mr Pistol backup were not afraid.
        He would just phone the police and finger the guy as to where he was hiding.

        A confrontation occurred. And nobody knows what really did happen.

        But we can guess. Reasonably guess. A scenario of unfortold consequences.

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