Thursday, July 18, 2013

Seven Quick Takes on the Treyvon Martin Case

I've been wanting to blog about the Trevon Martin case and I think this format will work well.
  1. I saw an  African-American professional gentleman on TV talking about how verdicts like this make him scared for his sons.  The reality is that so many people see young African-American men as threats that it actually threatens their lives in some cases.  I have a large white 21 year old autistic son who likes to walk the neighborhood.  I worry about him doing something socially unacceptable and ending up in police custody.  I can't imagine what it must be like to have to worry about your sons  ending up on the wrong side of the law because of the color of their skin as opposed to any action they might take.
  2. I am a paralegal and part of the work I do is criminal defense.  My boss defends folks with deep pockets and sometimes you get more justice if you can pay more for a lawyer.  It isn't fair, but I don 't know how to fix it.
  3. Remember, the jury did not find Zimmerman "innocent", they found him "not guilty".  No jury ever finds the defendant to be innocent.  "Not guilty" can mean that the jury believes the defendant didn't do it;  it can  mean that they thought the defendant doesn't deserve to go to jail for the action he took; it can mean that they just weren't sure he actually was guilty.  In other words, by finding Zimmerman "not guilty", the jury did not necessarily find Martin guilty.
  4. While two wrongs don't make a right, every day there are African-Americans who are acquitted of or never charged with the murder of other African-Americans due to sloppy police work or recalcitrant witnesses.  Where is the outrage about that?
  5. In the same vein, there is a reason so many people fear young African-American men.  Yes, part of it is racial prejudice.  Part of it may be cultural differences--I remember in college seeing the African-American girls reacting very positively toward wolf-whistles from men, whereas even had those whistling been White, I wouldn't like it, nor would my friends (at least we wouldn't acknowledge it to the men).  However, the reality is that much of the violent crime committed in my city is committed by young African-American men.  Until that changes, until they commit no more crimes per capita than the rest of society, bigots have a justification for their actions and those who want to consider all people as individuals and not as part of a group have a stumbling block in their path.
  6. We need to pray for both Martin and his family and Zimmerman and his.  Zimmerman has to live with the knowledge that, no matter how justified he thought it was at the time, he killed a man.  May God grant Martin eternal rest and may He grant peace to both families.
  7. In our archdiocese we say a prayer right before the final blessing at mass and I'd like to share it with you::
Loving and faithful God, through the years the people of our archdiocese have appreciated the prayers and love of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in times of war, disaster, epidemic and illness. We come to you, Father, with Mary our Mother, and ask you to help us in the battle of today against violence,murder and racism. 
We implore you to give us your wisdom that we may build a community founded on the values of Jesus, which gives respect to the life and dignity of all people.
Bless parents that they may form their children in faith. Bless and protect our youth that they may be peacemakers of our time. Give consolation to those who have lost loved ones through violence.
Hear our prayer and give us the perseverance to be a voice for life and human dignity in our community.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.
Mother Henriette Delille, pray for us that we may be a holy family.


  1. What a beautiful prayer, and heartbreaking that you live in an area where it's bad enough to need to do something like that.

  2. Amen. I pray for both families too. It is great American tragedy.

  3. #6 is what we all need to remember. All involved in this are suffering and need our prayers.

  4. RAnn, I like that this prayer points to life and human dignity. I don't remember a time in my life when media and government have turned up the rhetoric of race and made it the problem. Life and dignity begins in the womb with the call to life by God. We all deserve a chance to live as His children. God gave us eyes so we do see the difference among people, but He also gave us His Son who knew we were all one in one thing, Sin - and then died for us, that we might be one in Him.

  5. I like several of your points. And prayer for both families, as well as those who feel offended and frustrated, is excellent advise.
    Although I am an attorney I do not practice criminal law. I would not want to represent defendants and I know that there is unfairness in the system but there is no other system that is as good. I remind myself in any trial situation (criminal and civil) that I have not heard all the testimony nor seen all the evidence--which is often distorted by news reporting. Therefore, I do not try to substitute my opinion for the jury's verdict.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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