I headed off to JFK Airport for my trip to Israel on Friday not long after Obama gave his surprise speech on the Florida jury verdict finding George Zimmerman not guilty of Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
The presidential statement elevated the Martin case to a historic status in the struggle for civil rights, although a discussion of the facts of the case was noticeably absent.
Having had a subsequent 10-hour plane ride with no Wi-Fi, then some more down time, I was thrilled to see that the regular and guest authors here had taken Obama and others to task on the factual and legal absurdity of the presidential statement. Thanks Mandy, Andrew, Fuzzy and Neo-Neocon.
The evidence in the case – presented in court both at trial and in pre-trial proceedings — revealed that Martin bragged about fighting and how he could sucker punch people in the nose, possessed unlicensed firearms, was suspended from school for misconduct arguably involving possession of stolen property and/or burglary tools, did in fact sucker punch George Zimmerman in the nose after calling him a “creepy assed cracker,” then beat Zimmerman Mixed Martial Arts style while bashing Zimmerman’s head against the concrete as he screamed for his life, all of which was consistent with the forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts.
Beyond that, Zimmerman was of mixed race (white, Hispanic, black) with no history of racism against blacks found by the FBI, and many anecdotes showing Zimmerman was not racist.
On top of all that, the State of Florida took extraordinary efforts to prosecute the case, including appointing a Special Prosecutor when regular line prosecutors declined to file charges for lack of evidence sufficient to prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, sparing no expense or effort to prove the case to a jury.
Prior to the verdict being announced, the almost universal view of legal observers was that Zimmerman had a plausible claim of justifiable use of deadly force under traditional principles of self-defense based on the evidence presented at trial.
The jury reached a verdict which was consistent with the law and the facts.
Now there are mass protests, marches and calls for boycotts of Florida, egged on and encouraged by the President, and an extraordinary tip line established by the Attorney General of the United States in a disturbing attempt to find something with which to charge Zimmerman.
In what universe does the President of the United States elevate this case — this case, this case — to civil rights landmark status as reflective of historical injustices visited upon blacks and call a nation to action?
I felt like I had taken off from an imperfect planet Earth, and landed in an alternate universe.