Justice Has No Color - My Response to The Zimmerman Verdict. Published Published July 16th 2013 By Xander Gibb
In 1993 when I lived in London I remember being shocked & sickened when I heard about the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Stephen was a 19 yr old Black British guy, from Eltham in South East London who was murdered in a racist attack while waiting for a bus. This became a benchmark case of the highest caliber of any racially motivated killing in UK history.
At the initial trial all of the usual tricks were brought out of the bag & it was denied that the murder was racially motivated, but the evidence was overwhelming. The perpetrators claimed they weren’t racist, but calling someone a “NIGGER” & stabbing them in the chest & the arm is hardly an attempt at fostering racial harmony. Eye witnesses who saw the attack confirmed it was unprovoked & over so quickly.
Attempts were made by the police to smear Stephen & his family’s names. This was later corroborated by an under cover officer who had been working within an anti-racist campaign group in the mid-1990s
It prompted cultural changes in attitudes on racism, the police/law practices & the partial revocation of double jeopardy laws. Five perpetrators were initially arrested for Stephens Murder but the investigation was handled so badly there were no convictions forthcoming at that time.
The Metropolitan Police in London were investigated & found to be Institutionally Racist. The report also stated it had been incompetent & that officers had committed fundamental errors, including failing to give first aid when they reached the scene. The case was described by The Home Secretary as one of the highest-profile unsolved racially-motivated murders.
Thousands of people turned out to show their support at the venue where the enquiry was held. The nation was clearly disgusted by the lack of justice & disinterest of the powers that be in prosecuting 5 white men, who took the life of 1 black man. Stephen Lawrence was murdered in cold blood because of the color of his skin, & the police were culpable in the injustice.
After the enquiry I was at a fundraiser & was seated next to The Divisional Commander for The Metropolitan Police. Never one to shy away, I asked if he felt that there was a level of institutionalized racism in either The Police or Judiciary, to which he answered no! However, he said it only takes a few racists for it to trickle down the system.
The Lawrence family endured years of hell on top of losing their son. They were forced to take out a private prosecution because the police & judiciary failed them. They had no financial assistance & had to pay for the case themselves. Again this was thrown out due to lack of evidence. It’s hard in these cases to get all of the facts when one of the parties is dead.
Two of the five murderers were eventually brought to justice, convicted & sentenced to life, twenty years after the event. Finally there was some justice for Stephen Lawrence.
Stephens Mom said “I would like Stephen to be remembered as a young man who had a future. He was well loved, and had he been given the chance to survive maybe he would have been the one to bridge the gap between black and white because he didn’t distinguish between black and white. He saw people as people.”
The Stephen Lawrence Murder case came to my mind when the verdict of not guilty was handed down to George Zimmerman, an unofficial neighborhood warden who shot & killed an unarmed Black teenager on his way home from a trip to the store.
Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African-American high school student who lived in Miami Gardens, Florida with his Mom. In February 2012, he was visiting his father in Sanford, Florida when he had been suspended from school, due to the discovery of drug residue in his book bag.
Zimmerman, 29, was a part-time student & a self appointed neighborhood watch captain at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community. On the night of Trayvon’s murder, he was patrolling the neighborhood & called 911 to report a “suspicious person”.
He ignored the Instructions not to leave his vehicle or approach the person. Moments later, neighbors heard gunfire. Zimmerman acknowledges that he shot Trayvon, claiming it was in self-defense, even thought Trayvon was unarmed. In a police report, Officer Timothy Smith writes that Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and back of the head.
Witnesses gave varying reports, Zimmerman was on top, Trayvon was on top & Zimmerman had stated that Trayvon had jumped out from behind a bush to attack him. A grown man attacked by a significantly smaller teenage boy, bearing in mind if Zimmerman was that scared he could have stayed in his car.
It was also claimed that Zimmerman was unable to break free from Trayvon or move his arms however was perfectly able to reach around to the gun he had in the back of his pants & shoot Trayvon. Trayvon died as a result of the shooting.
The trial that followed was a pantomime, where the facts were built skillfully by Zimmerman’s defense counselor around the stand your ground law which is on the statutes on Florida. Zimmerman had learned in detail about this law in classes he had taken previously
During the 18 months preceding the February 26 shooting, Zimmerman called the non-emergency police line seven times. On five of those calls, Zimmerman reported suspicious looking men in the area, but never offered the men’s race without first being asked by the dispatcher.
Consequently Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury of 6 Women, 5 white & 1 Hispanic. I am unsure how this was a jury of his peers but both prosecution & defense agreed upon them. The verdict was met with disdain & disgust both in The US & throughout the world. Protests began immediately with the message, “How can we trust the Justice, when there is no Justice”?
There are 3 sides to this story, Zimmerman’s, & he has a vested interest in being found not guilty, Trayvon’s & he is dead, murdered by Zimmerman & The Truth. The simple facts of this case however you look it are as follows: An unarmed 17 yr old male, was shot & killed by an Adult who claims his actions were fair & were self defense. Trayvon Martin was shot & killed & we have forgotten that fact.
The consideration of who was screaming was also left to conjecture. As the screaming stopped when the shot was fired, surely that is definitive of who was actually screaming? Why was Zimmerman’s skull not fractured from being smashed 25 times onto concrete?
The defense did their very best to put Trayvon Martin on trial for his own murder, as if he deserved to be shot & killed & they won. What a travesty of justice.
Another point that is relevant in this case, is Florida's despicable record for their Department of Justice. Let’s not forget that Casey Anthony walked free from court & was found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
The jury declined to convict her of either first degree murder or manslaughter. I am left wondering who is overseeing the Judiciary in Florida. Krusty the clown? Caylee Anthony is still dead & no one has been brought to justice for killing her. Casey Anthony is now pregnant with twins.
Is this the beginning of the Death of the American Judicial system? Was the Zimmerman verdict fair & will the verdict spark a vigilante attitude in the union? A civil case is pending & frankly I for one feel the verdict of Zimmerman’s case should be overturned. Zimmerman is hiding in fear for his life & whilst I am not in favor of violence, he is clearly a man with something to hide.
The United States would do well to look the occurrences in the case of The Murder of Stephen Lawrence & ask itself some questions. Was this a clear case of institutionalized Racism? & Does the Stand your ground law in Florida & the verdict in this case now mean that anyone can now shoot you there, without credible witnesses & claim self defense? Learn from The mistakes of The United Kingdom.
This verdict is an atrocity & and a poor excuse for justice. An immediate judicial review needs to be initiated in the interests of all that is decent. This is a big wake up call people & we should check those who are saying that Trayvon deserved what he got as this is a deeper insight into what they really think.
My biggest disappointment in all of this is that President Obama has not demanded a review. How would he have reacted if this was his son racially profiled? He wears a hood & looks stoned so therefore he must be a thug? We have to be mindful of these dangerous stereotypes as they only serve to divide the community further.
To add insult to injury Zimmerman had his gun returned to him & there will apparently be no revocation of his gun license. If this had been a vehicular manslaughter case, there is no way the perpetrator would be given back his license. The judiciary is going to hell in a hand basket sadly & not commenting on this situation is something I am unable to do.
My heart goes out to Trayvon’s family & friends & I know for certain that Doreen & Neville Lawrence know the pain you are feeling right.
I pray that justice will prevail in this case & that Florida will wake up & smell the coffee.
RIP TRAYVON MARTIN & STEPHEN LAWRENCE
JUSTICE HAS NO COLOR!
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Xander Gibb has written for many publications and writes with an unapologetic response to the world around.