George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty
George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a jury of six women in Florida.
The jury, who deliberated for over sixteen hours, had to decide whether to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, convict Zimmerman of manslaughter, or of clearing Zimmerman completely. Midway through their deliberations, the jurors reportedly asked the judge for clarification about the charge of manslaughter, which was added as an option late in the trial.
The jury would have had to believe that Zimmerman “intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin” to convict him of manslaughter, according to CNN. To convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, the jury would have had to find that Martin’s death was “done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent…of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.”
Martin’s parents, who were not in the courtroom when the decision was announced, expressed their sadness on Twitter.
“God blessed Me & Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put up for him GOD BLESS,” tweeted Tracy Martin.
The not guilty verdict has sparked outrage across the country, with many people coming together to protest the verdict. Many protesters feel that the verdict is evidence of a racially biased justice system – one that does not value the life of an African American teenager. Non-violent protests are being encouraged by the NAACP and Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“There will be protests, but they must be carried out with dignity and discipline. Let no act discredit the legacy of Trayvon Martin. In the long run, we will prevail in the struggle for justice,” Jackson said on CNN.
Should protests turn violent, Zimmerman is prepared to defend himself against any violent retaliation. His brother, Robert Zimmerman, told CNN that his brother should continue to carry a weapon when leaving the house, saying, “I think he has more reason now than ever to think that people are trying to kill him because they express they’re trying to kill him, all the time, every day, on my Twitter feed, on the Internet.”
Zimmerman could still be held accountable for Trayvon Martin’s death: Martin’s family could choose to file a civil suit against Zimmerman for wrongful death, or a civil rights suit could also be filed. In fact, the NAACP is petitioning to get the Justice Department to file civil rights charges.
“The most fundamental of civil rights – the right to life – was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin,” said the NAACP.