A Florida jury’s decision to acquit neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman of murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin has ignited anger and protests nationwide. Forum discusses the case and fallout from the decision.

John Burris, civil rights attorney
Jim Hammer, former San Francisco prosecutor

  • Chemist150

    There is a small piece that can be verified of Zimmermans account that is not directly confirmable by the 911 calls. Having looked at the map and read what he said, Zimmerman claimed that he ended his 911 call to return to his truck which was to the west. The map showed the incident about 3 doors to the south between the condos. Zimmerman could not return to his truck directly by going south. Thus, the first and only piece of Zimmerman’s account that can be verified, appears to be a lie.

  • Steve

    Here is what I don’t understand about self-defense law: If someone attacks you, you have the right to defend yourself. But if you get the upper hand (as Martin may have done), is the original attacker now allowed to claim self-defense, even though he was the perpetrator?

  • Cointelamateur

    First off, the jury was 4 whites, 2 latinis. I’d love the guests to discuss why Zimmerman is being qualified as a white Hispanic, and the media cares so much aboutbiracial heritage. Is it because it doesn’t fit the black/white dichotomy neatly?

    Second, euguene Volokh in the Volokh conspiracy website (a legal website) said that most states have the same selfdefense considerations- that the prosecution must prove iit’s bot self defense. If the guests can comment, at least about California and if that is true, I would truly appreciate it.

  • optikool

    I find it un likely, Martin would have dropped his drink, candy and phone just to fight Zimmerman unless provoked…

    • Carter

      To me this is a lesson not about race or even racial hot spots in the US but about Florida.

      This is the same state that told 50,000 Democrats (mostly black) during the 2000 election they could no longer vote based on a frivolous technicality, which led to George Bush winning by 300 votes, which the supreme court eventually rubber stamped.

      It is a corrupt state. Boycott it.

  • JB

    Why is Zimmerman protected by self-defense and ‘stand your ground’ but Marissa Alexander was not?

    • Chemist150

      Poor jury selection? What was the jury make up?

  • Chris OConnell


  • Orlando

    I’m a Hispanic individual and feel very strongly about equality. However and this is a big however. African American individual give themselves a very bad name all the time. Example: sitting on the light rail the Driver told not once not twice but more than 7 times to turn down the music and the man didn’t. He got out of his stop and made gestures at the bus driver and this is one example of many that I have encounter by overwhelming African American’s. I was born in Puerto Rico and raise in Connecticut and now live in the bay area.

    • Another Mike

      Did the driver ask courteously and with respect?
      Was the music listener able to hear the request?
      Did the music listener understand that the request was directed to him?

    • Chemist150

      I know whites, hispanics and blacks like that. It’s not race related. It may be culture related so that in certain areas, certain races dominate with the behavior but it’s definitely not specific to race.

      • Tyranipocrit

        yes and in this culture in that neighborhood the white-hispanic–zimmerman culitvates a culture of fear and violence and murder. he got away with murder because he lives in a predominantly racist culture–in his neighborhood, in his city, inn his state, in his country. but especially florida–every creep and republilcan in the world tends to migrate to florida.

        • Chemist150

          I didn’t think that this was a race issue to start but having seen people post awful things on the web such as “everyone knows that blacks are violent and unpredictable”. Then it gets 100 thumbs up and 10 thumbs down.

          It makes me wonder about the jury more than Zimmerman. There seems to be a strong racial component to the Zimmerman supporters but proving Zimmerman was acting on race is impossible.

          The trial was a hard one and the prosecution could have been better directed.

          I think the prosecutor could have picked up on Zimmerman’s provable lie, focused on that and shown that Trayvon had established that he was being followed and had reasonable cause to fear for his safety and the right to self defense above Zimmmerman and thus Zimmerman was wrong.

    • Tyranipocrit

      you have a few bad experiences with PEOPLE and you demononize an entire race of people. When you encounter a naughty white boy not minding his parents or the police or bus drivers do you demonize the entire white race? No you dont. You are quite simply,a racist.

      White people do the same with hispanics. You should have more empathy.

      • Carter

        It’s not just random blacks who are deliberately obnoxious. Lots of people are, of all races and genders. The deliberately obnoxious type is not a race, it’s a personality type. But some cultural trends do encourage obnoxious behavior, including:
        – rap music.
        – violent video games.

        • Tyranipocrit

          all rap music? all video games? you said its a big however and that african americans give themselves a bad name ALL THE TIME. I think you need to examine thyself a ltt le before you going judging everyone else.

  • Tristan

    To me, the real issue behind Zimmerman trial is about *gun*.
    All of this ambiguity would never have happened without a gun: a security guy with a teaser; pepper spray; stick; … can be efficient enough. Gun are optional in most of the cases and is even “overkill” (if you allow me the expression).
    But I have the feeling that the media avoid getting back to the roots of this issue : guns in USA. I guess this is because there is enough to say on the case itself. But I hope we will use it to go back to gun-laws problems.

  • Chemist150

    When I was 17, I was at a sports camp on a university campus. I was passing through a dark area at night to meet people on the main strip. A person on a moped passed going in the opposite direction on a parallel path. They parked their moped at a building and began following me.

    It was clear they were following me. He could have parked at any building he wanted to go to but they were closed due to it being summer and late at night. He followed me for a good distance gaining ground and when he saw that I was a guy with long hair, he turned and hurried back to his moped and drove off in the original direction he was going.

    There is no question that he was a potential rapist and for those that denounce Trayvon for being violent toward an armed stalker who possibly tried to initiate a stop which is illegal without witnessing a crime and without identifying himself are suggesting that a female was in my place that night I was followed, would deserve to be shot if she tried to defend herself before she was fully raped.

    I felt threatened and did not see a gun. I was preparing to strike if he got into range. In SF people get stabbed in the back and then robbed. Should the law require someone to be killed or raped before being able to defend themselves when there is reasonable fear for safety when you have, beyond a shadow of a doubt, established that you are being followed?

    Thing is that Zimmerman had no uniform and probably did not identify himself. I’m glad that you’ve never been mugged or raped but it does not take a gun to cause one to have reasonable fear of safety.

  • Robert Thomas

    What I’ve learned from this story is that foolish behavior can lead to tragedy.

  • Orlando

    The driver said PLEASE every, Quote Can You Please turn the music off. And the guy had speaker radio and everyone hear the driver because he said it trhough he speaker and the black kid heard it because when he got out he made gestures at the driver…

    The thing is that white people see that and they get really upset and those ladies judging that case most likely encounter behavior like that in the past… Look people I think he should be in jail, but but but but but… Black people have to stop acting a fool. Look at rap videos, comedy shows like Kins of Comedy “MotherF@%k is a noun, I can use it in every sentence” Bernie Mac, may he rest in peace.

    You some times See Hispanics acting hard, or red neck whites, but never Asians, Indians, Europeans, Middleasterns, or many many races. I’ve been from Puerto Rico to New York down to Florida and all states from there to California and African Americans sad to say still think there so hard. Don’t get me wrong I’m friends with some very highly educated African Americans and they don’t act at all like that. I just saying that more that most other nationalities black people (Raised in the USA) do act like that.

    • Tyranipocrit

      what are you trying to say? Your writing is very unclear. I’m really confused.

      I guess i would say to you is if a man gets out of a van that has been stalking you in the dark–is acting hard, in self-defense, reason to be murdered or slaughtered with a gun or any other weapon?

      He was just a kid. a boy. A child. if he was white, this WOULD NOT have happened. Period.

  • Orlando

    Sorry for my bad spelling…

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Trayvon had a cell phone so why didn’t he call his Dad at the Dads girl friends condo in the same complex where he was walking? Instead he calls some woman he knew. Had he called his Dad someone would have run out to meet him and make sure he was left alone.

    Also remember Trayvon was somewhere around 6 ft tall vs Martins 5.7 height. So who was bigger and stronger? A tall athletic kid or some shorter not in great shape security guard?

    And that woman friend (19 almost age 20 still in high school) was a horrid witness for the Prosecution and that is key to losing this case.

    • thucy

      I have real trouble understanding your argument here. One 17-year-old teen with a runner’s build is stalked by one older guy carrying a loaded gun. This is somehow a fair fight to you?

  • Tyranipocrit

    the selection of the jury is always manipulated–the fact that they are white women is no surprise–they are the most likely to acquit the murderer because he is a dangerous black monster. An all white jury! Come on! the fact is, if a white kid is walking down the street one would not assault him or suspect him of crimes. Zimmerman is a murderer. He should have been charged with manslaughter.

    The poor boy dared to get uppity–he looked about when he should have kept his black eyes cast down to the ground–this offended savage-zimmerman, the white neighbors, the defense, and the all white frightened female jury members–the white neighbors sympathize with zimmy. Psychotic lunatics all.

    Im not sure the prosecution cared at all about Treyvon or the obvious case of manslaughter. I dont think they tried to convict Zimmerman. i think it was a farce from the beginning. Even the closing statement on behalf of the prosecution seemed contrived, heartless, fake…as a jury member that would effect my decision. I wish I was on that jury–we would still be there–because i would not budge. Zimmemrman was guilty guilt guilty. And there is nothing those maniac women could have said to persuade me. And that is exactly why a man like me is not chosen to be on a jury. I care about the truth. I’m not a media hypnotized moron. Jury selection is rigged, plain and simple.

    We need to reform jury selection and the justice system. there should be more than six people on this jury. They should not be selected by the prosecution or the defense–they should come from far away and perhaps more randomly selected from a diverse demographic across the country. And above all–jury members MUST be highly educated and broad minded–a little travel under their belt, worldly.

    I know exactly what happened. i live in a white waterfront neighborhood in florida–the neighbors are all racist gun-toting conservatives who get all anxious and alarmed when they see a man of color. In the race between bush and al gore–neighbors called anyone who wanted to vote for Gore–a N-lover!–to thier face. These are wealthy educated white people. I cant imagine what it was like in that neighborhood when Obama was elected. I was out of town. these are people who appear friendly and down to earth—if you are white. The media in florida is sooo racist–almost all the coverage is of the dangerous black man. Trying to frighten all those little old white women. I am sickened.

    One more example of NO JUSTICE in America! A lawless place were wage-thieves, bank looters, torture happy presidents, and racist looney gun-toting murderers go free. So so so SAD. Whatch ya gonna do? Whatch gonna do, when American loonies come for you?! Blacks beware! Foreigners beware! World beware.

  • Tyranipocrit

    “the big issue here is guns. w e need to get guns out of the hands of untrained people.”

    Precisely. how many times do we forgive gun-toting lunatics of murder and mass murder and infanticide before we honesty accept the truth–gun toting Americans are often looneys and criminals that need to be locked up–or there guns taken away. Becuase without guns they are cowards who would never attack a innovent black boy with a knife or baton.

    The truth is they are cowards, murderous cowards. take guns away from these loonies.

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