The right decision
The arrest and prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin was suspect from the very beginning. The Sanford police had investigated the incident and were satisfied that the provisions of Florida's Stand Your Ground law had been met for not arresting Zimmerman. However, after 44 days, owing to demonstrations, civil rights outcries and political pressure, a special prosecutor, without benefit of a grand jury inquiry, took it upon herself to bring a charge of second-degree murder.
At best, the charge of manslaughter could have been envisioned and perhaps proved winnable in court, but the prosecution all but assured itself defeat by going after a higher and more difficult charge. Even then, attempting to convince the jury that Zimmerman killed Martin without lawful justification would have in hindsight proved to be unsustainable.
In the end, the jury saw through the vagueness of this case, particularly the so-called state of Zimmerman's mind at the time of the fatal clash with Martin. Barring eyewitness accounts and hard evidence, the jury apparently felt that there was insufficient proof to convict Zimmerman. This was the right decision in light of what had transpired long before the case was brought to trial.
Earl A. Myers Jr.
TampaChange gun laws
The gun laws must be changed. Nobody should be able to shoot and kill another man because they have the law on their side. If George Zimmerman wasn't allowed to carry a gun, this kid would be alive and be in jail for assault and been able to go on with his life after learning that you can't beat a guy for stupid reasons. I hate this verdict, but I understand the result of the jury. This kid shouldn't have died, and Zimmerman should have not been carrying a gun.
You can expect this kind of thing to happen more and more. I wonder why cops are allowed to shoot as well. A cop shot my bother to death on Father's Day a little less than a month ago. My brother didn't deserve this, either. Nobody should be allowed to kill. What will it take to make the laws be changed? How many people have to die for stupid mistakes? It seems like people want to shoot first and ask questions later. God help us all.
TampaLet's move on
After seeing the photographs, reading the Tribune articles and especially hearing the vitriolic tirade by Jesse Jackson on Fox News regarding the Martin-Zimmerman verdict, I submit the black community needs to get rid of the collective chip on its shoulder. The first step should be to lose the incessant use of the term "African-American." If you were born in the United States, you are American. If you were born in Africa and hold dual citizenship, then you might qualify as an African-American. The use of that term is divisive and tends to foster an "us-versus-them" attitude that encourages the racial profiling you say you don't like.
I suggest that the black community stop calling racial any issue with which you don't agree. The verdict was "not guilty." Does that make it racial, or is it a determination based on evidence presented by both the defense and the prosecution? Calling Zimmerman a "murderer" on national TV after he has been found innocent in a fair and lawful trial does nothing but encourage the "us-versus-them" mentality. Is there prejudice? Yes. Does that make everything racial? No. And trying to make it so just exacerbates the reality.
Just to let you know, I am a Cherokee-black-white American, but American will do quite nicely. Maybe others would benefit from the same philosophy.
Sun City Center
Your editorial on Monday regarding the verdict in the George Zimmerman case ("The Trayvon Martin verdict," Our views) is fair and representative of the facts, until the last sentence. You state: "Zimmerman may not have committed a crime, but he caused a tragedy."
I believe there is equal responsibility on both sides.
If Martin had taken the time to find out what Zimmerman wanted and told him he was going to see his father in unit such-and-such, I am quite sure Zimmerman would have driven away satisfied with the explanation. Young men confronted by authority figures in a situation they feel is no one's business but their own many times resort to confrontation rather than seeking an amiable solution. In a lot of cases, confrontations soon escalate to violence, and in this case it resulted in death.
Who can blame Zimmerman for wanting to keep his neighborhood safe? He may have overstepped his bounds slightly, but this was not cause for physical retaliation by Martin. A little common courtesy by both sides in these minor disputes would go a long way to resolving small problems before they become big ones.