For starters, let's note that the liberal outrage isn't necessarily over the verdict itself:
On the Killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
I think Andrew Cohen is right--trials don't work as strict "moral surrogates." Not everything that is immoral is illegal--nor should it be. I want to live in a society that presumes innocence. I want to live in that society even when I feel that a person should be punished.
Zimmerman saga was all about race
Let's get real
By Paul Campos
If you deny these things, you are either a liar or an idiot, or possibly both.
Nothing above requires the conclusion that the jury’s verdict was wrong as a matter of law. Florida’s laws, in their majestic equality, extend to people of all races the right to engage in vigilante killing that eliminates the sole witness to that killing. To point this out is neither a defense of those laws, nor a claim that they will in fact be applied equally. In other words, to blame this jury in this situation is to miss the point.
This verdict allows every paranoid, sub-intelligent, vigilante with a gun to go on victimizing black youth
By Rich Benjamin
These presumptions colored every moment of the Police Department’s botched initial reaction and the trial.
How does an armed adult defy the policy, chase down a youth, kill him, and then turn around and call it self defense? Defense from what? A fleeing kid? Was Trayvon Martin seen for his humanity? Or as a “fucking punk”? Are black men seen for our humanity or as three-fifths of a fucking punk? This verdict will have devastating consequences. It is an implicit green light for every paranoid, sub-intelligent, vigilante racist to go on victimizing black youth. Trayvon Martin is dead for no reason other than being black.
Why do Zimmerman and some Americans feel entitled to police black and brown people like vigilantes? Why did the Sanford Police Department test a dead boy’s body for drugs in “standard operating procedure,” yet failed to test a live man’s body for alcohol or drugs? Why did the Sanford Police Department fail so miserably during the critical immediate hours after arriving on the scene?
Since our juridical Establishment often turns its head--or even winks--at the prevalence of racial profiling and police brutality against black and brown people, why should anyone be surprised by Zimmerman’s chase? Or by his acquittal? Implicitly and explicitly, the law condones his racial paranoia. The so-called rationales used to design and peddle “Stand Your Ground” laws and “Stop and Frisk” laws, and immigrant policing laws, fuel a vigilante mentality allowing some Americans to feel entitled to self-police others.
Even before the verdict, the Police Establishment warned black people not to riot--as though that were a foregone conclusion--without delivering Zimmerman’s supporters the same warning. The warning not to riot--in its substance and tone--recirculates the dogma of “black men as menace.” The chase, the trial, the warnings not to riot, the acquittal all compound the passive-aggressive profiling of black and brown people.
Tim Wise explains the racism in the Zimmerman case for those who still don't get it:
No Innocence Left to Kill: Racism, Injustice and Explaining America to My Daughter
By Tim Wise
Because anyone who still believes that this case had nothing to do with race—or worse, that it was simply a tragedy, the racial meaning of which was concocted by those whom they love to term “race hustlers”—are suffering from a delusion so profound as to call into question their capacities for rational thought. And yet still, let us try to reason with them for a second, as if they were capable of hearing it. Let’s do that for the sake of rational thought itself, as a thing we still believe in; and for our country, which some of us still believe—against all evidence—is capable of doing justice and living up to its promises. In short, let’s give this one more shot.
Those who deny the racial angle to the killing of Trayvon Martin can only do so by a willful ignorance, a carefully cultivated denial of every logical, obvious piece of evidence before them, and by erasing from their minds—if indeed they ever had anything in there to erase—the entire history of American criminal justice, the criminal suspicion regularly attached to black men, and the inevitable results whenever black men pay for these suspicions with their lives. They must choose to leave the dots unconnected between, for instance, Martin on the one hand, and then on the other, Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell or Patrick Dorismond, or any of a number of other black men whose names—were I to list them—would take up page after page, and whose names wouldn’t mean shit to most white people even if I did list them, and that is the problem.
Oh sure, I’ve heard it all before. George Zimmerman didn’t follow Trayvon Martin because Martin was black; he followed him because he thought he might be a criminal. Yes precious, I get that. But what you don’t get—and by not getting it while still managing to somehow hold down a job and feed yourself, scare the shit out of me—is far more important. Namely, if the presumption of criminality that Zimmerman attached to Martin was so attached because the latter was black—and would not have been similarly attached to him had he been white—then the charge of racial bias and profiling is entirely appropriate.
And surely we cannot deny that the presumption of criminality was dependent on this dead child’s race can we? Before you answer, please note that even the defense did not deny this. Indeed, Zimmerman’s attorneys acknowledged in court that their client’s concerns about Martin were connected directly to the fact that previous break-ins in the neighborhood had been committed by young black males.
This is why it matters that George Zimmerman justified his following of Martin because as he put it, “these fucking punks” always get away. In other words, Zimmerman saw Martin as just another “fucking punk” up to no good, similar to those who had committed previous break-ins in the community. But why? What behavior did Martin display that would have suggested he was criminally inclined? Zimmerman’s team could produce nothing to indicate anything particularly suspicious about Martin’s actions that night. According to Zimmerman, Martin was walking in the rain, “looking around,” or “looking around at the houses.” But not looking in windows, or jiggling doorknobs or porch screens, or anything that might have suggested a possible burglar. At no point was any evidence presented by the defense to justify their client’s suspicions. All we know is that Zimmerman saw Martin and concluded that he was just like those other criminals. And to the extent there was nothing in Martin’s actions—talking on the telephone and walking slowly home from the store—that would have indicated he was another of those “fucking punks,” the only possible explanation as to why George Zimmerman would have seen him that way is because Martin, as a young black male was presumed to be a likely criminal, and for no other reason, ultimately, but color.
Which is to say, Trayvon Martin is dead because he is black and because George Zimmerman can’t differentiate—and didn’t see the need to—between criminal and non-criminal black people. Which is to say, George Zimmerman is a racist. Because if you cannot differentiate between black criminals and just plain kids, and don’t even see the need to try, apparently, you are a racist. I don’t care what your Peruvian mother says, or her white husband who married the Peruvian mother, or your brother, or your black friends, or the black girl you took to prom, or the black kids you mentored. If you see a black child and assume “criminal,” despite no behavioral evidence at all to suggest such a conclusion, you are a racist. No exceptions. That goes for George Zimmerman and for anyone reading this.
And here’s the thing: even in the evidentiary light most favorable to George Zimmerman this would remain true. Because even if we believe, as the jury did, that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, there can be no question that were it not for George Zimmerman’s unfounded and racially-biased suspicions that evening, Trayvon Martin would be alive, and Zimmerman would be an entirely anonymous, pathetic wanna-be lawman, about whom no one would much care. It was he who initiated the drama that night. And even if you believe that Trayvon Martin attacked Zimmerman after being followed by him, that doesn’t change.
But apparently that moral and existential truth matters little to this jury or to the white reactionaries so quick to praise their decision. To them, the fact that Martin might well have had reason to fear Zimmerman that night, might have thought he was standing his ground, confronted by someone who himself was “up to no good” is irrelevant. They are saying that black people who fight back against someone they think is creepy and who is following them, and might intend to harm them, are more responsible for their deaths than those who ultimately kill them. What they have said, and make no mistake about it, is that any white person who wants to kill a black person can follow one, confront them, maybe even provoke them; and as soon as that black person perhaps takes a swing at them, or lunges at them, the white pursuer can pull their weapon, fire, and reasonably assume that they will get away with this act. I can start drama, and if you respond to the drama I created, you are to blame, not me.
Richard Cohen is terrified of black people
Washington Post columnist understands racial profiling, because hoodies are the "uniform" of crime
By Alex Pareeen
In the world outside Cohen’s tiny boomer rich guy bubble, “a hoodie” is worn by … nearly all young people and plenty of not-so-young people. To call a hoodie part of a (universally recognized!) “uniform” of Dangerous Black Thuggishness makes about as much sense as invoking high-tops or baseball caps. It is the “uniform” of youth. But then, to Richard Cohen, youth plus blackness makes probable cause.
Is George Zimmerman white or Hispanic? That depends
For white Hispanics, our privilege can always be undercut. Zimmerman bet on his whiteness--and now he's entrapped
By Isa Hopkins
The truth is, Zimmerman is both: white and Hispanic, one a racial category and the other a marker of ethnicity, an accusation and an exoneration, respectively, inverted from their usual exculpatory order. Both are social constructions, but the former relies on skin color and ostensibly biological features, while the latter is a designation based on country of origin. Many Hispanics are dark-skinned, but many are not. It’s a confusing identity in a land that has traditionally preferred its divisions to be more clean-cut, and it’s one that even we white Hispanics struggle to understand.
For more on Trayvon Martin, see Black Youth Killed Like Trayvon and Racial Profiling for Blacks and Indians.