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The Acquittal of a Murderer - Protests, Responses from Artists, from Portside Readers

"Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens," Ella Baker(1964). Responses to trial of George Zimmerman; NAACP petition has over one million signers; "Justice for Trayvon" vigils in 100 cities; Stevie Wonder won't play in Stand Your Ground states; Bruce Springsteen dedicates song to Trayvon; Portside readers responses

collage by Teabonics - Occupy Chicago, / Teabonics
Trayvon Martin is dead by reason of racism and a legal system contrived to sanction it. We must continue to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. A jury in Sanford, Florida, has found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.
It is appalling that a teenager's life was taken in cold blood, and there is no accountability for the man who killed him. But we can turn our outrage, anger, and heartbreak into action. We can still seek justice for Trayvon.
Join in signing the NAACP's petition to the Department of Justice asking them to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman:Please sign the petition below addressed to the Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder, which says:
"Attorney General Eric Holder, 
The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida's prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act. 
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. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation. 
Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today. 
Thank you." 
Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name: 
The petition started the night of July 13th by the NAACP, which asks the Department to bring a case against George Zimmerman, has already hit the 1 million mark.
This major milestone was reached in just two and a half days. (July 16, 2013 at 3:09 PM)
Crew of 42
July 20th, 2013  12:00 PM
Federal Court Buildings
"Justice for Trayvon" National Day of Action Vigils in 100 Cities outside of Federal Court Buildings Saturday, July 20th - 12 Noon
The vigils, taking place in 100 cities, will be a call to action pushing for federal charges against George Zimmerman leading up to the Saturday, August 24 March on Washington
FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 877-626-4651or click here.
William Holt 
July 17, 2013
In March, the students of the Howard University College of Medicine made a powerful statement about the killing of Trayvon Martin with the photo shown [below]. Now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted in the case, the image's popularity has started to grow, popping up across the Internet from BuzzFeed to Anorak
Howard University Trayvon Martin "Am I Suspicious?" Campaign Video
The photo, which shows Howard's medical students in both hoodies and lab coats, begs the question: "Now, do we look suspicious?"
Students of the historically black university also released a video in March to bring awareness to what they see as racial profiling, which some observers consider to be the principal factor that lead to Martin's death.
The aftermath of last week's verdict in the Zimmerman trial, which included nationwide vigils and protests, has brought new relevance to this student-led campaign. And while a jury has rendered its decision on the fate of Zimmerman, many still argue that the larger issues at play in the trial are far from resolved
By Karen Vaughn
July 15, 2013
Stevie Wonder had a very strong reaction to the Zimmerman verdict.
"For those who may have lost in the battle for justice, wherever that fits in any part of the world...we can't bring them back...
From there he goes on to pledge not to perform in Florida or any state that has a `Stand Your Ground' law.
See Stevie's emotional statement and response here. He speaks about his decision not to play Florida at the 1:16 mark.
Listen here
[While performing in Quebec City on July 14th 2013, Stevie Wonder reacts to the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial that followed the shooting of Trayvon Martin. He declares he will not perform in Florida as long as the Stand-your-ground law isn't revoked there, or anywhere else in the world with such a law.]
By Alyssa Rosenberg 
July 17, 2013
During his concert in Limerick, Ireland last night, Bruce Springsteen dedicated "American Skin (41 Shots)," a song he debuted in 2000 about the February 4, 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo by four plainclothes New York City police officers, as "a letter back home-for justice for Trayvon Martin." If you haven' heard the song before, part of what's chilling about hearing it again in this context is that the lyrics, which describe a black woman talking to her child about how not to get killed by the police, remain as applicable now as they were a decade and a half ago. When Springsteen sings "Lena gets her son ready for school / She says `On these streets, Charles / You've got to understand the rules / If an officer stops you, / promise me you'll always be polite / And that you'll never ever run away / Promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sight,'" he could be quoting Levar Burton explaining the tactics he uses to try to avoid a deadly outcome during traffic stops by the police.
And the wallet Diallo was reaching for when he was shot could easily have been Trayvon Martin's skittles and ice tea. As Springsteen puts it, "Well, is it a gun, is it a knife / Is it a wallet, this is your life / It ain't no secret (it ain't no secret) / No secret my friend / You can get killed just for living in your American skin." The locations and the decades have changed. The results remain tragically the same.
Springsteen isn't alone in invoking Trayvon Martin's death on stage. Stevie Wonder has pledged not to play in states with Stand Your Ground laws in response to George Zimmerman's acquittal in Martin's death, a substantive response to the laws that made that verdict likely, if not inevitable. Beyonce Knowles held a moment of silence for Martin during a July 14 concert. Soul singer Lester Chambers dedicated "People Get Ready" to Martin and was assaulted for it on stage. And three days ago, Young Jeezy, who's ventured into politics in his music repeatedly, including on pro-Obama track "My President Is Black," released "It's A Cold World (Trayvon Martin Tribute)," which is a broader lament about the violent deaths of young black men: 
All of these moments are important, and it's absolutely important to keep the public emotionally engaged with the fact of Martin's death. But I hope this momentum last, and that musicians move beyond directionless anger to action. Wonder's boycott calls attention to a specific set of laws that will be difficult to roll back, but that at least present a target. Let's hope others join him in focusing on Stand Your Ground laws and other policy issues, as well as the pain of losing yet another black man.
You are SO right! This prosecution gets an F for their totally inept, misdirected handling of this trial. The fires and blood in the streets will be on their heads for failing The People.
Charles Black
Ella Baker made this statement in 1964, "Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens."
Ella's Song (performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock)
Not only does the Zimmerman verdict endanger every African American, it is a fundamental challenge to democracy and the foundational principles of the Declaration of Independence.  It comes only weeks after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
This is the betrayal of Reconstruction and Civil Rights all over again.
As Gerald Horne, noted historian, recently noted at the Chicago Alliance 2013 Human Rights Awards, the Jim Crow South was "the place where slavery was most persistent was also the place where lynching was most prevalent and where today anti-union sentiment is the strongest and that no progress nationally is secure unless we break the back of reaction in Dixie."
We are moving toward a police state, and racism and xenophobia are the weapons being used to blunt the resistance of the people.  The only response can be united struggle and organization for change:
  • Demand Federal intervention in the South and the arrest of George Zimmerman on charges that he has violated Federal Civil Rights law.
  • Demand that Congress re-enact a stronger Voting Rights Act that applies to all states and counties.
  • Invalidate through Federal legislation local laws that enable racist vigilantes to gun down innocent Black people or any people.
  • Place all local police under the control of elected Civilian Police Accountability Councils, such as that proposed in legislation put forward by the Organizing Committee to Stop Police Crimes of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
We are at a turning point in the struggle to preserve and expand democracy.  We cannot ignore the fact that this is the heart of what is going on in our country and the world.  Will we have the open terrorist rule of the huge multi-national corporations, or a world in which the human rights of all people are recognized and protected by law and the might of the state?  The struggle for the rights of African Americans and immigrants is the front line of the struggle, along with the rights of workers to organize.
For details on the CPAC legislation go to NAARPR
Ted Pearson
Excellent article.  Excellent!!
Isabel Thompson
Thank you for including the Red Man in your writing. In most communities they are an invisible "other" who has ongoing regrettable links with the "system".
Karyne Dunbar
In 1996 I served on a jury for the first time.  The jury was comprised of 11 women and me.  The jury was racially mixed, but I was the only black male.  The charges against the defendant was murder of an 8 year girl, burglary, rape and assault on the girls mother.  The defendant was black and the woman was white.  The country had just  gone through the OJ Simpson trial and race relations were at an all time low.
When it  came time to select a jury fore person, the women selected me.  I explained to them that they should reconsider their selection because I would follow the law to the fullest extent.  They confirmed their selection and as  the trial began, one woman was excused. Another male (white) was added to the jury and we continued the trial.
Given the nature  of the charges, it seem like a "slam dunk"',  and the only decision that we had to make was life or death.  However, after hearing all the testimony, we  found out that the plaintiff knew the defendant and had previously  had sex with him.  Also, they had done drugs together with her boy friend.  There were no witnesses to the murder, no murder weapon could be found and the defendant claimed he was "high" at the time, and did not know what happened.  All we had was circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a woman who may have been under the influence of drugs.
The paperwork that the court gave me stated that in order to convict a person of 1st degree murder, you must prove  the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. Premeditation 
  2. Deliberation 
  3. Malice Aforethought
The state of California does not require "reasonable doubt" for second degree murder.  We convicted the defendant of second degree murder and we took criticism from the townspeople and the press.
Applying my jury experience with the Trayvon Martin case, I see no way that George Zimmerman should have been set free.  First of all, the only thing that I would have focused on was the fact that he left the vehicle with a weapon after he was advised to stay seated.  All the other evidence after he left the vehicle was hearsay since there were no witnesses.
Therefore, George Zimmerman should have been convicted of Manslaughter or at least Involuntary Manslaughter.
Mark C. Boyd
Armed George Zimmerman kills
Unarmed Trayvon Martin dies
Too bad we didn't hang Trayvon
It would have saved the State
                (&uncommitted Prosecution)
Southern Trees Bear a Strange Fruit
Claire Carsman