It has been, most certainly, an emotional 24 hours since the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman was handed down. So much has already been written and said about the verdict and what it says about our court system and what it says about our nation. As I always try to do, I have taken time to think about what to post before I write anything and I feel that I have a lot more thinking to do. But, I want to share some of my thoughts here.
It bears remembering that this jury was not asked to rule on the presence or absence of racist attitudes in this country. They were not asked to rule on whether African Americans get fair deals in the court system. They were not asked to judge gun laws in light of the tragic numbers of Americans killed each year nor were they asked to judge the laws of the state of Florida regarding self-defense or any other matter.
They were asked to judge whether, according to the laws of the state of Florida, the state had proved its assertion that George Zimmerman was guilty of 2nd degree murder or manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. They performed their duty and I would like to believe that they did so honorably: that they truly and sincerely felt that, at the very least, the prosecution’s case left reasonable doubt.
While I, like many of us, followed the trial carefully and have our own perspectives on the tragedy, I was not there on the night in question and I was not in the courtroom to hear the testimony in its entirety. And therefore, I can not say without question that justice was not done last night.
But, I can certainly say that, regardless of the verdict, our country needs to confront the racist attitudes which persist and the inequalities in the court system. The statistics show over and over again that African Americans are more likely to be convicted of crimes than whites and that is a tragedy in this country. Whatever happened on that night last year in Sanford, Florida, racial profiling does take place among law enforcement and security officials in this country. Our gun laws need to be addressed and the “stand your ground” law and others like it need to be re-evaluated.
Each of these would have been just as serious an issue had the jury found George Zimmerman guilty. We must seek justice in this country for all.
The family of Trayvon Martin, should be in our minds tonight. They have suffered a horrendous tragedy, losing a son, who set out to buy candy at a store and was killed on the street. The tragedy of his death and the death of so many young people like him is a national shame. Whatever happened that evening, the fact that the tragedy that the Martin family has felt has been felt by so many other families in this country is a national disgrace.
In the book of Lamentations, which we will read tomorrow evening on Tisha B’av, we read: ‘bacho tevkeh balyalyah” “She, (the city of Jerusalem), cries out in the night” with no one to comfort her.
The family of Trayvon Martin and all of the others who cry need not just our comfort and our prayers but our dedication and determination to fight racism in this country and to work to perfect our system of justice. More than they need words of comfort, they need our sincere efforts to insure that all of us can walk the streets free of fear in a nation which truly seeks justice and equality for all.
I do want to share one other thought in the face of this issue. Our son, Avi, who is a student at Emory University in Atlanta, shared some important words on facebook today. I think his eloquent words deserve to be shared: