Andrew Cotto believes the association society has with black men and violence played a part in the jury’s decision not to convict George Zimmerman.
One sad irony in the Trayvon Martin case is that violence may have set George Zimmerman free. The man who followed and shot an unarmed teenager is home today. He even gets his gun back soon. The reason for this is violence.
The jury clearly believed that Zimmerman needed to defend himself. It didn’t matter that he instigated the altercation through his pursuit of Martin. It didn’t matter that he was complicit in the exchange of force. What mattered was that he was getting his ass kicked by a teenage boy. One who, it appears, was capable of bringing some serious violence to a man bigger in size and 12 years his senior.
The marks on Zimmerman’s face and neck were one of the only verifiable pieces of evidence in the case. That and the fact that Martin was on top.
The jury was convinced that Trayvon knew violence.
His pummeling of the older, larger man was evidence. His friend’s testimony was damning.
Rachel Jeantel was on the phone with Martin at the time of his pursuit until the phone went dead after the fight began. She was, in large part, the only “witness.” Her testimony was noteworthy for many reasons. Her contemptuous exchanges with the defense lawyer made headlines. As did her language. And her inconsistencies. But it was something she said quietly that may have sifted its way into the jury’s reasoning.
Jeantel said that when Trayvon’s phone went dead, after the fight began, she simply hung up and didn’t think any more of it until two days later when she found out he was dead. Say what? Your friend gets in a fight with a “creepy-ass cracker” and the phone goes dead, and you just brush it off? You don’t call back immediately? You don’t try to reach out to someone who might be around? No curiosity? No concern? No big deal.
Jeantel’s cavalier attitude towards violence may have resonated with the jury of five white women and one Latina. It may have awakened the association they have with black men and violence. And that association just may have set George Zimmerman free.
It’s ironic. And it’s sad, for so many reasons.
Photo: AP File/Joe Burbank