Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reactions To Zimmerman's Not Guilty Verdict

(UPDATED -- see below)

Reactions to the Zimmerman verdict run the gamut from sad acceptance and calls for calm to angry outrage.  But, with the exception of some minor vandalism during a protest in Oakland (no injuries or arrests), there has been no violence.  Many peaceful demonstrations are occurring. HERE is a good news video on those.

See excerpts, below, of some statements from others:

Tweeted by Trayvon's father, Tracy Martin (via CNN):
Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.

Tweeted by Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton:
Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!!

From the Martin Family attorney, Ben Crump:
"We are very saddened by the jury's verdict. The family is heartbroken. Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin would like to thank people around the world for their support. To everybody that put their hoodies up. To everybody that said, "I am Trayvon. 
To Tracy and Sabrina, your tireless work. We know Trayvon is up there, proud. This morning, Martin Luther King's daughter Tweeted me that this was a defining moment for the progress of her father's dream. He would want us to conduct ourselves on the higher plane of dignity and discipline. 
For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful."

From the ProsecutorBernie de la Rionda:
I am disappointed, as we are, with the verdict, but we accept it.  We respect the jury's verdict.

From President Barack Obama (via CNN):
The president, in a written statement, acknowledged an emotionally charged climate but concluded that "we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken." 
Obama called Martin's death a tragedy for America. 
"I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher," he said. 
"I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. 
"We should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis," Obama said.
From The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
The Brady Campaign has been one of the leaders in fighting against “Stand Your Ground” or so called, “shoot first” laws like the one in Florida.  As evidenced by the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, these laws have deadly consequences.  They promote a dangerous mentality and misperception about weapons, by overemphasizing their value in self-defense relative to the other dangers that they pose.  
In the end, George Zimmerman's mentality, and what emboldened him to approach Trayvon, may be debatable.  What is not debatable, though, is the fact that Trayvon Martin is dead because Zimmerman had a gun.  Zimmerman was given a concealed carry permit by the state of Florida despite an arrest record and a history of violence, as a direct result of the influence of the gun lobby, and if it weren’t for that, this tragedy never would have happened.  
From the NAACP (via CNN):
"When you look at (Zimmerman's) comments, when you look at his comments about young black men in that neighborhood, about how they felt specially targeted by him, there is reason to be concerned that race was a factor in why he targeted young Trayvon," NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
From the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
Turning the other cheek is supposed to be a sacred virtue. But by removing the duty to retreat from a confrontation in public when one can safely do so, the “Stand Your Ground” law allowed George Zimmerman to stalk and kill an unarmed teenager and walk away a free man. That’s a tragedy, because there can be no doubt that Zimmerman could have avoided a confrontation with Trayvon Martin on the evening of February 26, 2012. 
The NRA’s law represents a dangerous and unprecedented escalation in the use of force in the public space, allowing individuals to kill when they merely fear “great bodily harm” (i.e., a fistfight, shoving match, etc.). The concept of responding with proportional force has been obliterated. In this case, the “harm” done to Zimmerman, by whatever source, was so minor that EMTs didn’t even offer him treatment minutes after the shooting. 
Americans should also question why Zimmerman was allowed to carry a loaded gun in public in the first place. He had been previously arrested for assaulting a police officer and placed under a restraining order for a domestic battery involving a former fiancee. Again, Zimmerman has the NRA to thank. Their “Shall Issue” law in Florida awards concealed carry permits to individuals with minimal screening/training and removes any discretion law enforcement might have in approving applicants. 
The message to would-be killers is now clear. You need not fear carrying your gun in public, or using it. If you do, just make sure you are the only one remaining to testify about the nature of the confrontation in question.
From Moms Demand Action:
The shooting death of Trayvon underscores the growing danger of increasingly lenient gun policies across the United States. Stand Your Ground laws, which give everyday citizens more leeway to shoot than the U.S. military gives to our soldiers in war zones, endanger our children, families and communities. These laws grow even more dangerous when coupled with some states’ permissive concealed carry policies that empower untrained, average citizens to carry a gun, and turn everyday conflicts into deadly tragedies.
ADDENDUM (7/15/13):

From The Southern Poverty Law Center:
"They always get away." These were the words George Zimmerman uttered as he followed and later shot Trayvon Martin -- words that reflected his belief that Trayvon was one of "them," the kind of person about to get away with something.  How ironic these words sound now in light of the jury verdict acquitting Zimmerman.  
Trayvon is dead, and Zimmerman is free.  Who was the one who got away?
From Trayvon's pastor, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Arthur Jackson III :
“I believe that this situation has not paralyzed us, has not traumatized us, but is mobilizing us,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be a call to rally at the polls to vote. If we’ve never voted before, we’re definitely going to rally to change these unjust laws.” 
“For us in this generation, this is our Medgar Evers moment,” he went on, comparing Trayvon’s killing to the assassination of Evers, the World War II hero and civil rights leader
“This is the moment that we’re not going to forget. We’re going to keep this in the forefront of our minds. This is going to continue to live. It will be something that we talk to our children about, now and forever.”
UPDATE (7/18/13):  

Trayvon's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, gave an interview for the first time since the verdict, on CBS This Morning.  See HERE for video and article from HuffPost:
"I was in a bit of shock," [Fulton] said. "I thought surely that he would be found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter at the least. But I just knew that they would see that this was a teenager just trying to get home. This was no burglar. This was somebody's son that was trying to get home." 
When asked about the prospect of racial profiling, Fulton revealed that neither of them knew the details of the case, including George Zimmerman's previous 911 calls and the fact that authorities were looking for a young black male. 
"Trayvon was simply not that person," she said. "Trayvon was not a burglar, he was not doing anything wrong. He simply went to the store and was headed back home. And for somebody to look at him and perceive that he was a burglar, that was the problem that initiated everything."
UPDATE (7/19/13):

Trayvon's parents, in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper:
"It came as a complete shock for me," Fulton said about the verdict. 
"And the reason I say that is because I just look at people as people, and I thought for sure that the jury looked at Trayvon as an average teenager that was minding his own business, that wasn't committing any crime."   .... 
"They knew he was a teenager. They knew he was on his way home. They knew he ran," she said. "... How much do you need to know?" .... 
n spite of his son's death, Tracy Martin said he has faith in the legal system. 
"The state did all they could with what they had" given the poor quality of the investigation, he said. 
"Does the system work? It didn't work for us. We remain prayerful that through this injustice, we can close that gap and hopefully the system can start working for everyone equally." .... 
Martin's mother said that she hoped that a foundation started in her son's name would allow for something good to come out of his death. 
"The change that we hope to affect is with the law," Fulton said. "We want to make sure any teenager who is walking down the street wont' be killed, that they will make it home safe." 
"Hopefully, we can find some positive, some bright side out of all of this," she said.