Jessica Tanner, Staff WriterLast Modified: 01:18 a.m. DST, 18 August 2013
SANFORD, Florida - Shortly after a Florida jury acquitted a white man of murdering a black youth in cold blood, President Barack Obama expressed his views on the controversial verdict of the Trayvon Martin Case.
Obama stated, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” He also urged who gathered in cities across America to protest this travesty of justice to remain non-violent and to not take the law into their own hands.
The president also made it clear that Americans are aware of the “history of racial disparity in our criminal laws.” This is a pervasive and persistent problem in the Deep South, so much so that during this recent election cycles many of the old Confederate states – Alabama, Mississippi, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia among others, challenged the Voter’s Rights Act which was signed into law on 6 August 1965.
Efforts by some Republicans in these states to disenfranchise and intimidate African-Americans, Latinos, and Indians to prevent them from voting using tactics that were reminiscent of Jim Crow era tactics. Certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota, and some local jurisdictions in Michigan, are also included.
Florida has a long history of racism and inequality in the justice system when it comes to arbitration against or for African-Americans.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that Obama stated that the government should seriously consider reviewing some state and local legislation, particularly Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Many believe that this law may promote rather than discourage violent confrontations.
On Saturday, 13 July 2013, an all-female jury in Sanford, Florida acquitted George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin’s February 26th, 2012 shooting death. This verdict ignited anger among many who viewed this incident as racially motivated through murder.
The next day, Obama issued a written statement, which noted that the jury had spoken and urged calm and reflection. According to Obama, many Americans have gotten better at changing their attitudes on race, “but we have to be vigilant and work on these issues.”
Many demonstrators are calling for federal charges against George Zimmerman. Obama said, “They must have some clear expectations here.” He stressed that law enforcement and the criminal code, “is traditionally done at the state and local levels, but not at the federal level.”
- COMMENTARY: Zimmerman Acquittal Says It's Open Season on Black Males (blackamericaweb.com)
- A verdict and more: Get caught up on the George Zimmerman case (cnn.com)