Acquittal for George Zimmerman may Lead to Civil Rights Charges for Death of Trayvon Martin

Former Neighborhood Watch Leader George Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday, July 13, 2013, of the death of teenager Trayvon Martin. Following three weeks of testimony, six women jurors declined to find Zimmerman guilty of murder or a lesser charge of manslaughter, according to CBS News.

Two different portraits of the case emerged during the trial, according to CBS: one of “concerned community member who was ‘viciously attacked’ when Martin ‘sucker-punched’ him and began slamming his head into a concrete sidewalk” and one in which an overzealous and frustrated vigilante attacked a young boy who had simply gone to a convenience store for snacks. The jurors obviously sided with George Zimmerman, who had expressed the right to defend himself and his community (albeit from what is still not exactly clear).

Disappointment for supporters of Trayvon Martin

As might be expected, while friends and family of George Zimmerman were elated by the acquittal, the many supporters of Trayvon Martin likely felt much like those watching from the sidelines of the Casey Anthony case (whose 2-year old daughter Caylee turned up inexplicably dead), another intensely watched trial in Florida.

As with the trials of Casey Anthony, Nicole Brown-Simpson and others, it appears that the verdict’s result was likely more about what wasn’t proven than what was. While Zimmerman could cogently present his side to the jury via videotapes statement or by shaking his head as prosecutors laid out the facts for the jury, Trayvon Martin could not represent himself.

Other options for Martin family

Much like the case of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman, there is also the possibility that the family of Trayvon Martin could pursue a civil case, having gotten no satisfaction with the criminal one. This did yield a positive result for both the Brown and Goldman families.

However, what seems more likely (although as yet, it is simply a matter of speculation) is that George Zimmerman could still face a federal civil rights case, according to Newser. The Martin family’s lawyer, Darryl Parks, told “Fox News Sunday” that “The beauty of our country is that we have several tiers of government, several aspects of laws and that different times different aspects apply.”

Petition and reactions

Meanwhile, according to Newser, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and have both begun a petition drive on their websites championing the idea that the Justice Department file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Barbara Arnwine, Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, noted in USA Today newspaper article that “the verdict was a tragic miscarriage of justice,” noting “no matter how you look at this situation, if it were not for the actions of Mr. Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin would still be alive with his family today.”

According to USA Today, a “clearly shaken” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous noted after the acquittal, “This is a heartbreaking moment.” Jealous then went on to compare the Trayvon Martin case with the 1955 case of Emmett Till, a 14-year old boy who was killed senselessly a generation ago.

For Craig Woodward, who brought his son Dante (who wore a blue hoodie) to the Sanford, Florida, courthouse to hear the verdict, it was very personal. He old USA Today, “My son’s 13 and it could have been him.”