RACISM AND THE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL

By Bob, Detroit

     The judge was white, the prosecuting attorneys were white, and the defense attorneys were white.  There were NO African-Americans on the jury or in any position of responsibility in the trial.  The outcome was all but inevitable.  The judge ruled that racism and racial profiling could not be mentioned in the trial; the prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys agreed to this.  As a result, the truth, that racism and racial profiling were the reasons Zimmerman stalked and murdered Trayvon Martin, was excluded and was not mentioned.  Insane.

     The one juror who has been interviewed empathized with Zimmerman and thought he had a good heart and was just trying to protect his wife and his community from crime and criminals; in other words, from Trayvon Martin.  The juror could not empathize with Trayvon Martin.  She thought Trayvon Martin decided to attack Zimmerman and that Zimmerman had every right to defend himself.  She had no understanding or comprehension of why Trayvon Martin would have felt threatened or afraid when he was being followed and stalked by a strange white man.  Talk about two different worlds or two societies!  Her concern was with crime, and she believed Zimmerman was on her side, protecting his neighbors, while Trayvon Martin was a danger and a threat.  She agreed with Zimmerman’s assessment; she had no problem with racial profiling and probably would deny that racism was involved.

     The same juror said Trayvon’s friend, the young woman he was talking to on the phone, while Zimmerman was stalking him, was a terrible witness who was not credible.  The juror said the young woman was uneducated and didn’t talk right and she felt sorry for her.  The juror’s response to the young woman was arrogant, condescending and racist; she could not and would not hear what the woman was saying.  It truly was Trayvon Martin who was on trial, and the jury found him guilty of causing his own death.

     The prosecutors, at times, appeared to be putting on the defense case.  Several of the prosecution witnesses acted as defense witnesses.  And it was the prosecutors who put the video statements of George Zimmerman into evidence, the videos where Zimmerman was explaining his version of what happened.  These video statements may not have been allowed into evidence except for the fact that Prosecutors put them into evidence.  The juror said the jury played Zimmerman’s video statements over and over again in the jury room, and that they jury believed Zimmerman’s version of the events.  And when the prosecutors said race was not a factor, they threw out the truth and sided with the defense.  It appeared the prosecutors didn’t want to bring the case and brought the case only because they were ordered to after millions of people around the country were demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.  When it was over, the prosecuting attorney said the jury has spoken and we respect the jury’s verdict and this is the greatest country in the world with the best criminal justice system.

     The defense attorneys were explicitly and aggressively racist, telling jokes, ridiculing Trayvon’s friend when she testified, and attacking the state for daring to bring such a case.  They painted Zimmerman as the victim and Trayvon Martin as the attacker.  They turned the truth on its head, and the jury agreed with them. They and Zimmerman are now the darlings of the Klan and the racist right.  Zimmerman is a hero to these thugs.  Newt Gingrich chimed in that the demonstrators who supported Trayvon Martin were “lynch mobs.”  Gingrich knows quite well who does and who has done the lynching in this country.

     This was a racist trial, and the court system in this country is racist to the core.  We should be clear on this.  And from the prosecutors to Obama to all representatives of the state, they are saying the jury has spoken, it was a fair trial and we all must respect the verdict.  It was not a fair trial, it was a racist travesty, and we can have no respect for this trial or this verdict or this justice system or this state.

     One thing that may be jarring to many people, especially many young people, is that the President is African-American and the Attorney General is African-American, but the racist murders continue and are getting worse.  The racial profiling continues and is getting worse.  Now with “stand your ground” and the Zimmerman verdict, racists will be emboldened to step up and increase their attacks on African-Americans and people of color.  Racism and racist attacks and murders are on the rise.  The Supreme Court is gutting Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act, claiming racism is in the past, just at the time when racism and racist attacks are on the rise and out of control.

     Obama and Holder say respect the jury’s verdict, and we will look into this.  The NAACP and National Action Network and many others play into the same script, saying the focus now should be on asking the Department of Justice to charge Zimmerman with a hate crime or civil rights violations.  People went into the streets when Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin and was not charged, demanding that Zimmerman be arrested.  Under this pressure, the state brought the charges against Zimmerman and now says we had a fair trial and respect the verdict.  Under pressure from the streets, again, the feds say they will investigate.  They may bring a charge but it’s doubtful.  And if they do bring charges, the result may be the same: it was a fair trial and the jury has spoken.  Or it could be a slap on the wrist to Zimmerman, but that’s doubtful, too.  More likely, the feds will say we did investigate but there is not enough evidence to bring a charge.  The NAACP and the NAN are telling people in the streets to rely on the feds and to ask the feds to bring charges.  They continue to rely on the state for justice when the state is responsible for and embodies injustice.  Nothing has changed, except racism and racist attacks are getting worse.  The feds won’t save us and the court system won’t save us and the politicians won’t save us, we will have to save ourselves and protect our own children and our own neighborhoods.

     Some commentators are worried because many African-American youth seem “alienated” from the state.  I’ve heard those specific words.  We should encourage alienation from the state, because the state represents the rulers and the racist system.  But we should also encourage solidarity within our communities and among our communities and against the racists and their state.

     These are important and difficult discussions.  We should continue. One thing about the  Trayvon demonstration here in Detroit on last Sunday was the make-up of the demonstration.  It was Black and white and Latino and Asian.  It was young and old with an emphasis on young.  And there were many from the LGBT community there in solidarity.  The demonstration was one of the most united I’ve seen; that is uniting different sections of the working class in solidarity with Trayvon Martin.  And I don’t’ think it seemed surprising to most people; it was the way it should be and not much was said about it.  This is encouraging.  And from the reports I’ve seen from other cities, there seemed to be this kind of unity around many sections of the country.

     But if the movement continues to build, there will be attempts to divide the movement and to direct the movement into safe channels of asking the feds to do something.  We should oppose the attempts to divide: the whole working class must be united against racist attacks and racial profiling.  And we should oppose the attempts to direct the movement into safe channels and relying on the feds.  We should urge more alienation from the state and more reliance on our own forces and our own communities and uniting our forces to fight the racist attacks and the racial profiling.    And it’s not enough to say unite our forces and don’t rely on the feds; we need to develop ideas and proposals on how to move forward, how to build an independent and organized movement, a movement based on direct action against the state and the racists instead of relying on the state.  This is the most difficult part.

     The expansion of “stand your ground” laws and the Zimmerman verdict mean the racists and the racial profilers will feel it’s open season, and we, unfortunately, can expect more racial profiling, more racist attacks and more racist murders.  The country is divided.  This is class war with the racists focusing attacks on African-American youth and people of color.  This is class war with the religious right focusing attacks on the LGBT community and women.  This is class war with the state and the rulers focusing attacks on poor people and the disabled and organized workers.  We have to find the ways and point the ways to uniting our forces to defend ourselves and to resist and to organize our side of the class war.  And we have to find the ways to oppose those forces which urge reliance on the state or elections or politicians to save us.  This is a dead end which plays into the hands of the rulers and the racists.  The only path of resistance which has any chance of success is independent action, direct action, defending ourselves and our communities and building a new society based on justice and freedom and solidarity in the fight against the stinking, decaying society of the rulers and the racists and their state.