Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Juror: Some wanted to convict Zimmerman initially

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

When they started looking at the law, the person who initially wanted second-degree murder changed her vote to manslaughter, the juror said. Then they asked for clarification from the judge and went over it again and again. B37 said some jurors wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of something, but there was just no place to go based on the law.

B37 said jurors cried when they gave their final vote to the bailiff.

"I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict," said the juror, whose face was blacked out during the televised interview but who appeared to become choked up.


The juror said she didn't think Martin's race was the reason that Zimmerman followed him on a dark, rainy night. She said she also believed Martin threw the first punch and that Zimmerman, whom she referred to as "George," had a right to defend himself.

"I have no doubt George feared for his life in the situation he was in at the time," the juror said.

More here.

Okay, I'm starting to get a better understanding of how this all played out.  For starters, if I'm getting this right, it appears that, under Florida law, all that matters in self-defense cases is the actual moment of the defending of self.  So it is entirely conceivable that I could walk into, say, a redneck bar, violate some big country dude's personal space, stare him down, and as long as I become terrified of his reaction to my provoking him, I can shoot him dead.  Of course, that's totally insane.  But it appears to be how the law works in the Sunshine State.

On the other hand, we're all fools if we don't think race plays a role in this legal calculus.  This juror, who, by herself, represents a sixth of the entire jury, is totally deluded when she asserts that the killer wasn't motivated at all by race: I'm not sure if it was allowed into the courtroom as evidence, but Zimmerman CLEARLY was out hunting for black people, or, to use his own words, those "assholes who always get away."  But whether she didn't know because it was inadmissible, or whether she did and simply didn't care, racial delusion was the result.  For that matter, she also had a clear emotional preference for her good buddy "George," a preference so strong that Zimmerman's stalking became irrelevant to her--Martin threw "the first punch."

To me, this seems to be her falling into the longstanding Southern narrative construction of the "scary black man."  One wonders what her feelings might have been if the victim had been a white kid.  Would his hypothetical whiteness have trumped Zimmerman's light brown skin and Hispanic ethnicity?  Hard to say, of course, but her obvious sympathy was with the hunter, rather than his prey.  And that's a problem.  A big one.

That is, the law itself is psychotic.  It allows murder under circumstances which are easily created by the murderer.  Throw in the prevalent socially constructed racist notion of the "black thug," and it becomes that much easier to assert those circumstances to a jury.  In other words, I don't know, for certain, that I'd be found not guilty in my redneck bar example.  But change the skin color of the guy I'm staring down from white to black, and it's very likely a slam dunk.  In Florida, at least.  Probably lots of other places, too.

No, Zimmerman killing Martin wasn't a lynching.  But it had certain elements of lynching psychology at play, to be sure, most notably fear and hatred toward a negative black stereotype, which became embodied as an actual black human being.  And now he's dead.  And nobody seems to know what to do about it.