ROUND-TABLE: Is The Zimmerman Ruling About Race or the Justice System?

Monday, July 15, 2013

What is the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman story really about?

Does it show the strength of our justice system and belief in our institutions, or the weakness of those institutions? Or is it just about race?

As the verdict came down over the weekend, there have been largely peaceful protests around the nation.

As people take to the streets, it's clear that this case and the verdict will not just be tried in the courtroom—but also in the court of public debate, which is turning its attention to gun laws, privacy laws and the issue of racial profiling.

The Takeaway hosts a round-table discussion with Rich Benjamin, author of “Searching for Whitopia” and senior fellow at Demos; Avis Jones-DeWeever, host of the nationally-syndicated radio show, Focus Point with Avis Jones-DeWeever; and Republican strategist Ron Christie, to get at heart of these issues.

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Rich Benjamin, Ron Christie and Avis Jones DeWeever

Hosted by:

John Hockenberry

Produced by:

Jen Poyant and Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [28]

bl from here

Clearly you understand nothing about the law or the legal outcome. The jury in no way said attacking a youth in hoodie was acceptable. And I find fascinating the only people invoking race are media. Hundreds of people are, unfortunately, killed yearly, yet there is no media outcry or DOJ investigations. Go back to reporting (all) the facts and quit trying to create news.

Jul. 16 2013 01:05 PM

Please take on the issue of black-on-black violence, which is such a danger to the African American community.

Jul. 15 2013 04:03 PM
John Back from New Jersey

First off, this whole event is a disaster. That a young man walking home and apparently minding his own business could be killed for just being in range of an overzealous superhero wannabe is tragic. I find it unfathomable that the man who did the killing was directed by police to mind HIS own business rather than approach Martin did not make him in at least some way culpable for starting the chain of events that resulted in Martin's death.

Having said that, shame on host Hockenberry for HIS bias in discussing the facts of the case with a crew of people who generally had no apparent clue about Florida law, or even the facts of the trail (one said there wasn't an African American on the jury---when in fact there was), and even less honesty than I think is reasonable when they babble on about stereotyping and profiling. Why is it that most people are leery of African American men--I expect it has something to do with the fact that they are constantly in the news as major perpetrators of crime, that they often listen to music that is full of foul language and aggression (of the "kill the Fing cops" variety) so spare me the business about you don't need to be nervous because a black man is following you down the dark lonely street---I'm pretty sure every one of your panelists would feel that way...because the "stereotype" is based on crime statistics.

I stopped listening when Hockenberry began reading movie star Tweets...I mean since when are movie stars the go-to people for deep thought on complex issues?! I will NEVER tune in to this program again. But love the rest of your line up!

Jul. 15 2013 03:56 PM
John from Bklyn

Well that certainly was fair and balanced.

It's amazing how many people leave out the life-threatened self-defense - so inconvenient.

If Zimmerman was unarmed, might he be dead now?

Jul. 15 2013 03:44 PM
Reg from somoma

It's always racist when black people don't win.
Sad mentality. Marton was no angel.
Neither is Zimmerman. As far as I can conclude
KQED is mainly against Zimmerman.

It seed to be just fine. When OJ was free

Jul. 15 2013 03:36 PM
Taher from New York

Fortunately Zimmerman lives in America where murder of people of color is given a pass.
In some parts of the world it is acceptable to take violent revenge by a victim’s family.

Jul. 15 2013 03:35 PM
Nancy Stewart from Dublin, CA

If Zimmerman had been the victim, would Martin be deemed innocent because he was defending himself from an armed man who was following (and threatening) him? Does the Florida statute recognize self-defense if a person of color is defending him/her self from a white person? (I am a blue-eyed white person.)

Jul. 15 2013 03:33 PM
Taher from New York

One of the guests is a sweet talking apologist, Mr. Jones De Weever, for institutionalized American racism. Boycott all products from Florida, starting with orange juice.

Jul. 15 2013 03:24 PM
Oscar from Ny

First of all Zimmerman is Latin American.. Second the demons over at Washington started instigating this matter just so the mass can do what they do best and fight and biiquer between themselves ..also the family of Trevon paint this 17 year old as a baby but he's not.. Mike Tyson was world boxing champion at 17 and trust me I'm 36 and a 17 year old black athlete most likely can kick my behind easy.. The mentality of the mass "children" and everyone else are all glued to Facebook and other hating on Zimmerman because this is the right thing to do...Zimmerman was defending himself and a post and the ppl of America spit at him for this..smh

Jul. 15 2013 03:20 PM

DeWeever is smart to make sure her sons can protect themselves in possible situations. I think it's time for black families to make sure their sons are licensed and trained to carry and use guns in addition to any other defensive measures they can take to prevent becoming a statistic at the hands of people who perceive them to be suspicious.
Zimmerman will have to live with this the rest of his life. He was the perpetrator who made a decision to follow a teenager because he "looked" suspicious.

I have no desire to visit Florida. I will not spend money in a state that sanctions the murder of an unarmed teenager.

Jul. 15 2013 03:18 PM
derac from Deerfield Beach, FL

You can't defend Zimmerman's actions or the verdict. It allows anyone in FL to incite a person to defend himself and then kill him for said act. Yeah, maybe Travon was pummeling Zimmerman. Zimmerman stalked him and confronted him. In the cities where I grew up that's 'calling him out'. But we didn't have guns. You called someone out then you fought him. Its instigating a fight and Travon, according to FL laws, was allowed to defend himself. He just didn't use a gun. Foolish kid. Imagine what would have happened if Travon shot Zimmerman first ? Its all foolishness and it IS INDEFENSIBLE. The law is indefensible now and Zimmerman's actions were indefensible. When people like Ann Coulter and Dimbulb Trump applaud the verdict it just illustrates how devolved we have become as a society.

Jul. 15 2013 02:58 PM
Luke Goossens

It seems to me that many people are ignoring the fact that Martin was straddling and beating Zimmerman, and instead choosing to believe their preconceived notions based on the initial impressions of the story, that he was not in any way a threat to Zimmerman. Zimmerman may have made an unfounded assumption based on racial profiling, but then Martin proved him right by assaulting Zimmerman.

Jul. 15 2013 02:34 PM
Bonnie Helmer from Tampa, Florida

As a 66 year old white woman who lives in Tampa, I consider the Zimmerman decision to be totally obscene. It is a clear example of the death grip that the Old Boy network has on Florida. Shame on this State!!!

Jul. 15 2013 02:33 PM
Sharon Hasenjaeger

In the discussion there was reference to Alan Dershowitz's critique of the Zimmerman prosecutor. The comment seemed to imply that she did not do right by Trayvon Martin.Looking into it further, Dershowitz was actually saying that she violated her duty to the defendant,George Zimmerman.

Jul. 15 2013 01:20 PM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

So let's see ... this kid is walking home from the store, and this guy stalks him, and provokes a confrontation. In this confrontation the guy takes a few lumps, so he kills the kid. Did I miss anything? Sounds to me as if the guy was the aggressor.

Jul. 15 2013 12:56 PM
Hugh Plant from Bend, OR

I think that George Zimmerman was tried and convicted long ago by the media. This is a story about a tragic event that was blown into a major media feeding frenzy. People are shot every day in this country for a myriad of reasons. As long as we remain a country with a proliferation of guns we will continue to experience on a daily basis this sort of tragedy. The real conversation should be about guns. Look at how the two individuals are portrayed in the media- we continue to be subjected to images of Zimmerman as he looks today and Martin as a cute 12 year old kid instead of the much larger more adult like 17 year old individual that he was. I believe it is unconscionable what the media has done here. Although no one but Zimmerman really knows what transpired (and even his memory is probably not completely accurate) in all probability both individuals share some responsibility for some wrong doing. But let’s get real as long as we remain a gun toting society this sort of event will continue to take place on a regular basis. Demonizing one individual just to sell newspapers is the real wrong here.

Jul. 15 2013 12:48 PM
JP1 from Texas

These incidents could be reduced by eliminating handguns. Had Martin known that Zimmerman had a handgun, he may have done the really smart thing and run away.

If people need guns self defense, allow them to carry pump shotguns in public. As soon as people see the likes of George Zimmerman carrying a shotgun, they are not likely to confront them. Unless of course they are carrying a shotgun.

When I see someone with a hoodie, my guard goes up. Who is this person and why does he or she need to hide most of their head and face? Hoodies should be outlawed, or at least the community that favors them should voluntarily stand down from wearing them.

Jul. 15 2013 12:42 PM
Joe Idar from United States

With the number of black on black crimes in this country why havent we seeen protests rise to the level of the Zimmerman protests

Jul. 15 2013 12:31 PM

If Zimmerman was a woman we wouldn't be hearing all of this. OR, If Zimmerman was black and killed 12 kids you wouldn't have heard a thing because black on black crime doesn't allow animals to push for an agenda that doesn't exist any longer. If they want to stop profiling they should go talk to the black neighborhood that has been plaguing that neighborhood with crime and then maybe people wouldn't have jumped to a justifiable conclusion.

Jul. 15 2013 12:21 PM
ric from dallas

we all "profile" whether we act on this information is the criminal part

Jul. 15 2013 12:14 PM
CButler from St. Louis

I just posted this "takeaway" on my fb page ...
So -- the "take-away" I am getting from the trial outcome is that Trayvon is guilty of NOT having a LETHAL WEAPON when he tried to defend himself! Because once he attempted to defend himself, he gave Zimmerman the "green light" to kill him. I DO NOT LIKE THIS TAKE-AWAY! We do NOT want to tell our young men they need to start carrying guns to protect themselves from scared people -- because if they have to defend themselves, they might have to kill that person in order not to give that person a license to kill them!

Jul. 15 2013 12:14 PM
Luis Aponte-Parés

Just a note on what I call the "missing angle." It seems to me that the rise of gated communities and increased segregation by race/class/culture has been a "background" story. There is a vast literature on what an author has called "Privatopia" as well as major studies. I wish the "experts" would look at structural issues rather than "opinions" not based on facts and/or data.
Here is a tiny "bibliography" which I believe some folks should read before opening their mouths.
McKenzie, E. (1994). Privatopia: Homeowner associations and the rise of residential private government: Yale University Press.

Low, S. M. (2001). The edge and the center: Gated communities and the discourse of urban fear. American Anthropologist, 103(1), 45-58.
Landman, K., & Schönteich, M. (2002). Urban fortresses: gated communities as a reaction to crime. African Security Review, 11(4), 71-85.
Sanchez, T. W., Lang, R. E., & Dhavale, D. M. (2005). Security versus status? A first look at the census’s gated community data. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 24(3), 281-291.
Grant, J., & Mittelsteadt, L. (2004). Types of gated communities. Environment and Planning B, 31, 913-930.

Jul. 15 2013 11:34 AM
gqlewis from Atlanta, GA

How is that a black woman in Florida fires a warning shot and gets sentenced to 20 years for not shooting anyone, and Zimmerman gets nothing for killing an unarmed black minor. System failure to the max.

Jul. 15 2013 11:15 AM

DeWeever places her sons in the biggest jeopardy by failing to address the greatest threat against them - other young black men. 93% of black murder victims are killed by other black people. The number of black youth killed by over zealous neighborhood watch is pretty small - in fact Martin may be the only one. If the amount of time, protest, money and emotion devoted to this one - not even slightly representational case went into addressing the biggest threat facing black youth, which is black on black violence, perhaps headway could be made. As long as the black community continues focuses 93% their energy on 7% of the problem - growing up black in America will be dangerous.

Jul. 15 2013 10:58 AM
Angel from Miami FL

Most of Florida is still the "Old South". The state's constitution until recently prohibited Asians from owning property. There was the Florida Terror period of the 1950s. The Klan was largest in this state during the last century and continues to be active here. The stand-your-ground law was specifically created to defend the "southern gentleman" from prosecution if he shot a black man. There are still many cities with 60+ year old ordinances that make it difficult or costly for the [traditionally poor] blacks to move into or live in those cities. The state is so racially charged that even immigrants like Cubans and other Latins who come from a racially mixed nations have been treating African Americans with derision and scorn. THIS is FLORIDA. Bienvenidos, as long as you're not dark-skinned.

Jul. 15 2013 09:54 AM
BK from NJ

While Zimmerman is ultimately responsible for the death of Trayvon (he ignored please by 911 to stop following Trayvon, and ultimately shot him), he was not guilty of murder. There was too much conflicting testimony about who hit whom in the confrontation. The way our legal system is set up with reasonable doubt, Zimmerman was acquitted. He certainly is not innocent, but he was not guilty of murder. It is tragic.

Jul. 15 2013 09:23 AM

Three against one debate and Christie was focusing on law, logic and the mendacious origins of this case and not emotion like the others.

Jul. 15 2013 09:15 AM

What this verdict conveys to me is that STALKING is legal in Florida. Armed stalkers can pursue their "prey" and kill them if there are no witnesses. It's the killer's word against a corpse.

Jul. 15 2013 09:15 AM

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