After being told the composition of the jury considering the case against George Zimmerman the week before, I said he wouldn’t be found guilty. I also posted comments to the same effect on Facebook. But I was still disappointed to discover that he’d been found not guilty.
In (foolishly) arguing the outcome of the case with people on Facebook, I made the following comment:
Zimmerman effectively profiled and stalked a minor child while armed for the simple act of walking home from the store. Incompetent as the prosecution apparently was, the laws of Florida are culpable too. They enable and condone vigilantism, and the needless deaths that will certainly continue to result.
Andrew Sullivan’s commentary on the verdict is well-worth reading. It raises the very uncomfortable specter of lynching, as well as the prospect that this verdict might encourage it. Given the widely-documented disparities in treatment of minorities when compared to whites in sentencing for the same crime, along with the highest rates of incarceration in the world, outcomes like the George Zimmerman verdict (and the perverse laws that enabled it) force me to question whether or not this country values my life, or those of other black males.
I’ve heard some talk of boycotting the state of Florida as a response to the verdict. I can understand the sentiment. What I’m less sure of is whether any such boycott could be effective without a clear objective (such as the repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law). There’s also a legitimate concern about such a boycott hurting people who have no choice but to remain in Florida.