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SPLC response to Zimmerman verdict

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 7/14/13

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"They always get away." These were the words George Zimmerman uttered as he followed and later shot Trayvon Martin -- words that reflected his belief that Trayvon was one of "them," the kind of person about to get away with something. How ironic these words sound now in light of the
jury verdict acquitting Zimmerman.

Trayvon is dead, and Zimmerman is free. Who was the one who got away?

Can
we respect the jury verdict and still conclude that Zimmerman got away
with killing Trayvon? I think so, even if we buy Zimmerman's story that
Trayvon attacked him at some point. After all, who was responsible for
initiating the tragic chain of events? Who was following whom? Who was
carrying a gun? Who ignored the police urging that he stay in his car?
Who thought that the other was one of "them," someone about to get a
away with something?

The
jury has spoken, and we can respect its conclusion that the state did
not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But we cannot fail to
speak out about the tragedy that occurred in Sanford, Florida, on the
night of February 26, 2012.

Was
race at the heart of it? Ask yourself this question: If Zimmerman had
seen a white youth walking in the rain that evening, would he have seen
him as one of "them," someone about to get away with something?

We'll
never really know, of course. But we can seriously doubt it without
assuming that Zimmerman is a racist in the conventional sense of the
word.
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Racial
bias reverberates in our society like the primordial Big Bang. Jesse
Jackson made the point in a dramatic way when he acknowledged that he
feels a sense of relief when the footsteps he hears behind him in the
dead of night turn out to belong to white feet. Social scientists who
study our hidden biases make the same point in a more sober way with
statistics that demonstrate that we are more likely to associate black
people with negative words and imagery than we are white people. It's an
association that devalues the humanity of black people, particularly
black youth like Trayvon Martin.

George
Zimmerman probably saw race the night of February 26, 2012, just like
so many of us probably would have. Had he not, Trayvon probably would be
alive today.

The
jury has spoken. Now, we must speak out against the racial bias that
still infects our society and distorts our perception of the world. And
we must do something about it.


Southern Poverty Law Center by Southern Poverty Law Center

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http://www.splcenter.org/
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

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SPLC response to Zimmerman verdict