The acquittal of George Zimmerman Saturday night, of both second-degree murder and manslaughter,
raises the question, again, of whether young black men can get justice. For many people, the death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, shot by a Florida neighborhood volunteer, answers the question -- whether the young man is accused of a crime or the victim of one.
On Sunday, I briefly talked about the Trayvon Martin case with two African American friends of mine from Detroit, both about 40 years old. They were disappointed and angry. This is one of those events that has divided America, largely along racial lines.
“The dude (Zimmerman) got away with murder,'' one friend told me. “Michael Vick got two and a half years for killing some dogs and this guy profiled a young brother with a hoodie on in the rain and killed him.
“...I hate the way I'm feeling right now," he continuted. "I saw this white guy and I wanted to start swinging on him – and he didn't have anything to do with it.”
The other friend said he was “extremely disappointed” but not real surprised.
“I still have some hope that he (Zimmerman) will face civil rights violations,'' he said. “But my only immediate comfort is in knowing that he's probably the least free “free man”
in America. He'll be scared to even walk out to a mailbox for the next six months.
"Hey, we gotta take our justice in America anyway we can get it, right?"
Both men said they didn't expect a guilty verdict on second-degree murder – I didn't, either. This started out as a chance encounter. But manslaughter? People get that for drunk driving. The judge appeared to practically direct the jury to convict when she allowed the lesser charge to be
An unarmed black youth, who was definitely profiled, is dead. People can argue over the circumstances, but it's clear this was a deadly encounter that Zimmerman could have -- and should have -- avoided.
This is not just another murder case. It has become a barometer for racial attitudes, and it will influence the nation's debate on race for a long time.
For anyone who doubts whether a young black man can get justice in the courts, the acquittal of George Zimmerman will sting for a long time.