The truth cannot be denied. Race did play a role in the George Zimmerman case. The boy who died that night in the Florida town of Sanford was African-American. However, his color is just part of the story, actually just the opening scene of a drama that is still festering today throughout the United States.
The real story and its official court records include the facts that volunteer guard Zimmerman was on duty in the neighborhood where there had been recent break-ins of homes and parked cars. According to residents and other witnesses, they suspected the crimes were committed by young black males.
Zimmerman, in his zealous duty that fateful night, saw Trayvon Martin walking on the sidewalk next to the buildings. The court records include his phone calls reporting the young man as suspicious. Other phone calls indicate that Zimmerman was told to wait until police arrived, but he took it on himself to confront Trayvon. The result was that words were exchanged, and in anger, the boy, who was larger than Zimmerman, knocked the guard down. He then proceeded to hit George Zimmerman and slammed his head against the concrete. Among court records are photos of the guard with battered face and injuries to the back of his head.
Zimmerman was accused of manslaughter and a trial was held. As the jury composed of six women concluded, Zimmerman drew his weapon in self-defense and shot his attacker to save his own life. No matter how wrong Zimmerman was to confront Trayvon Martin after being told to wait for the police, it doesn’t change the fact that the community guard was declared innocent of manslaughter.
According to law and the American court system, that should have been the end of it, except for the terrible grief the families of both participants will have to endure indefinitely. Although it’s obvious that Trayvon’s color prompted the confrontation, and his death was totally unnecessary, that didn’t make Zimmerman guilty of manslaughter. End of story.
However, it wasn’t the end of it. Unfortunately, the news media and social networks have been determined to take commercial and political advantage of the potentially racial implications for as long as it is to their advantage. They kept all the details, both true and false, in the public eye throughout the trial. Then, when the verdict was announced, the racism accusations of the case were even more loudly exploited by those who’ve appointed themselves spokespersons for all African Americans.
Rodney King had a long criminal record before and after he was beaten by police in a similar incident twenty years ago, that caused widespread rioting and deliberate destruction. If anything positive came out of his story, it’s what he said after the eruption of violence, “Can’t we all just get along?” We can only hope those words will bring calm before this story is blown up into similar tragic consequences.