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Of Criminals and Crackers: A Personal Essay On the Zimmerman Trial By a Grown-up Florida Boy

By       Message John Grant       (Page 4 of 4 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Watching the grief of Trayvon Martin's parents as they listened to Don West aggressively question 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel about Trayvon Martin's cell-phone reference to Zimmerman as a "crazy ass cracker" was the nadir for me. Thanks to Judge Nelson's strictures it bizarrely seemed the only reference to race allowed in the trial. The term cracker, we've learned, comes from the plantation owner's whip "cracking" against a "bad" n-word's back. Sometimes, of course, the one doing the whipping was also black. I've heard Floridians refer, in a friendly cultural reference, to wooden houses of a certain age with porches on all four sides as "cracker houses."

But in the world of Sean Hannity and Don West everything is different. That the Hispanic Zimmerman was glibly labeled "white" in a trial in which the discussion of race was precluded piles further absurdity onto the case. It should be clear the more apt identifying label for Zimmerman would be that he was a not-very-bright, self-appointed lawman acting too aggressively.

Again, one can only speculate how the minds of State Attorney Angela Corey and her prosecution team worked in this case. Maybe they honestly just didn't get it. But one thing is clear about Florida's criminal justice system: that system should have been on trial along with George Zimmerman.

There is, accordingly, one silver lining, here. The historic Zimmerman verdict leaves no restrictions on publicly damning the State of Florida for its part in this travesty.

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I'm a 68-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and (more...)

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