CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed one of the jurors from the George Zimmerman trial. This interview gave significant insight into the minds of the jury who acquitted Zimmerman.
As many people are wondering exactly how the jury could find George Zimmerman innocent of both manslaughter and second degree murder, Juror B37’s interview allowed us to see exactly what these individuals were thinking. There were several significant moments in the interview that illustrate some fundamental problems with this trial and explain how things went so wrong.
(Video Time: 15:52-18:21)
The first thing that resonated with me was the fact that Juror B37 stated that she never considered race an issue in the case. I have done enough ranting on the dangers of society (primarily a white Americans) proposing that we are living in a post-race society. I dare not explore here the fact that the majority of people holding this belief are White Americans, who have always had privilege in this country, and have the luxury of opting to not have their race be a large part of their identity in society or they are Black Americans, who want so desperately to believe that because they have found some measure of success, that they can opt out of being Black. However, I digress. Juror B37 went on to say that race was never even discussed in the jury deliberations. Well does explain a lot.
Taking race out of the conversation ignores Zimmerman’s racial prejudices that led him to profile Trayvon as a danger that needed to be dealt with. Taking race off the table neglects the fact that Zimmerman saw an unarmed 17 year-old kid standing 5’11” and weighing 158lbs as a threat to public safety and at some point caused Zimmerman to “fear for his life” and something tells me he would not have thought this had Trayvon been White or female. To ignore race in this case glosses over the reality of what life is like for a Black male in this society and how Trayvon could think of Zimmerman as a “creepy ass cracker” and that not be a racist comment but rather an angry assessment that isn’t anymore character degrading than Zimmerman and his defense team pushing the idea that Trayvon was a visibly apparent “thug” because Trayvon smoked weed and had an interest in guns (certainly Zimmerman recognized that when he saw Trayvon, right??).
(Video Time: 03:24-04:09 & 06:46-09:29)
Another issue that comes up in the interview was the fact that Juror B37 admitted believing that Zimmerman probably “fabricated” certain parts of his re-enactment but that never affected his credibility or the he was “telling the truth.” Okay, seriously?? Essentially this woman has said ‘I know he’s lying but I believe he’s telling the truth’ and where in Hell does that ever make sense and not lend itself to the fact that racial perceptions were in play during this trial? She goes on to say that she believed the officer who testified because “he deals with this kind of thing” and not Rachel Jeantel because she isn’t educated, lacks communication skills, and didn’t want to be there. It is clear that for this juror, credibility lies in your education and/or the kind of work that you do and not whether or not you’re a liar.
(Video Time: 09:57-15:35)
I think the most troubling thing that is Juror B37’s empathy for Zimmerman and support for his actions despite the fact that she believes he “went too far” and blatantly disobeyed police orders to not follow Trayvon. She still believed Zimmerman to be a man “whose heart was in the right place” and felt that he was in fear of his life and had a right to then murder Trayvon. It didn’t matter that she believed he lied, that he didn’t have a right to be there, or that he blatantly stalked Trayvon and engaged him with enmity.
And when asked if she felt sorry for Trayvon Juror B37 said “I fee, sorry for both if them.” She could not bring herself to feel complete empathy for the loss a child’s life. She had to feel sorry for Zimmerman in order to feel sorry for Trayvon.
(Video Time: 23:07-28:36)
I have seen a number of people say that there was nothing wrong with the system and that there is no issue to be had with the acquittal of Zimmerman. They say this because they felt the prosecution didn’t prove their case. While I was not a fan of the prosecution’s efforts, I would not go as far as suggesting that justice served or that the legal process was carried out rightly.
The jury was fairly confused over how to interpret the charges brought against Zimmerman and the law. I was extremely surprised to learn that, in their blundering, the jury decided to focus only on the moments right before Zimmerman pulling the trigger and whether or not he was practicing self defense. This essentially means that they never addressed the charge of 2nd degree murder (which requires that consideration be given to the events leading up to the homicide and that the relationship between the two individuals has to be considered to decide if the killer acted with enmity towards the person whom they killed). Only one juror even thought about whether or not Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter initially, which requires that the killer recklessly handled a weapon (I admit this would have been difficult to prove in this case). This leaves one law that the jury focused on which was Florida’s Stand Your Ground law which essentially outlines reasons why a person can use deadly force. The major reason being if they feel there is imminent danger to their life.
That said it appears the jury spent the majority of their time trying to consider if Zimmerman had right to kill the boy and never questioned how he came to be in such a position (which Juror B37stated she believes Zimmerman got himself into the situation).
The fact is that miscarriages of justice prevail when truths are ignored. As long as we continue to pretend that race is not an issue in this country, Black people will continue to be oppressed, targeted, and even murdered in ignorance. A child has lost his life because Black people have become too apathetic, indifferent, and blind to see the chips being stacked against us.
I want to be a happy American with the freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but the truth is in America my life is not valued, my liberty is constantly threatened, and happiness comes sporadically. This is not for lack of trying, it’s for lack of opportunity. The most patriotic thing I can think to do for my country is to force it to face the truth of its reality and deal with me — that which it has created.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man