By Senator Lena C. Taylor
Zimmerman’s Twisted Dance With Justice
You may not know the name of them, but if you use social media, you have definitely seen a “GIF”. In its simplest form, a GIF is a still image. However, the GIF format has a special feature that can also be used to create animated images. People often use them like memes to communicate emotions, ideas, or humor. One of my favorite GIFs are those with the title “This Right Here.” It conveys a message, about an act or statement, that is so outlandish it simply pushes you over the edge. Case in point: when I learned that George Zimmerman had recently filed a lawsuit against the parents of Trayvon Martin, I had a “This Right Here” moment.
Nearly eight years ago in Florida, Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. After harassing Martin while he was walking in his father’s gated-community, Zimmerman instigated a scuffle with the unarmed teenager. When it was over, Martin lay dead. This shooting happened in 2012. Nevertheless, the outcome of the trial lingers bitterly, even today. Using a law commonly referred to as “Stand Your Ground”, Zimmerman was able to avoid being convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter for the teen’s murder.
The case set off an array of emotions that were filled with racial undertones and overt questions about the value of the life of African-American males like Martin. How could a child, who was bothering no one, having committed no crime, and possessing no weapon, be killed and his killer not be held accountable? Black communities around the country were reeling from the decision and had a “This Right Here” response. The acquittal was just too much to bear. Yet, there were no riots after the verdict. Many, within the community, attribute that response to Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.
Minutes after the announcement that Zimmerman would go free, the teen’s mother tweeted a message that read, “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!!!” The resulting public protests were peaceful, all over the nation.
Zimmerman was able to dance around the truth and the justice system failed the Martin family. He got away with it once, so why not try it again. Seeking more than $100 million from Martin’s parents, their attorney and others, Zimmerman asserts that he was victimized during his trial. This suit is twisted and reprehensible. As outrage simmers at the audacity of Zimmerman’s recent actions, many of us will want to say that “This Right Here” is the breaking point. If you reach that point, go back and re-read Ms. Fulton’s quote.