Former public defender Aram James, and co-founder of ACJP, has seen the inner-workings of the courtroom for decades. The Zimmerman verdict, he writes, is emblematic of systemic issues such as racial bias in jury selection that must be addressed if justice is ever to be achieved for black life like Trayvon Martin.
Over the last several weeks I have had a chance to see many hours of the Zimmerman trial on television and have paid close attention to many of the instant, self-described, legal scholars and commentators on both sides of the issues raised by this trial.
Spoken and unspoken throughout the trial, and the proceedings leading up to the trial, including the media coverage was a palpable racial tension from the start, going back to 2012 when the Sanford Florida police refused to arrest George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. And then we found, once the long delayed trial began, that the jury that was selected was made up all most exclusively of white folks. Continue reading
Set in the backdrop of photographs by Charisse Domingo at a recent San Jose rally calling for justice for Trayvon Martin, San Jose poet Miguel Gonzales recites an original poem dedicated to Trayvon, the 17 year old who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, and other young men of color lost to violence.
Trayvon Martin’s Judge being replaced for a potential conflict of interest, glad small things like this are getting cleared up before the trial begins – Post Submission By Cesar Flores
Published April 18, 2012
ORLANDO, Fla. – The judge in the Trayvon Martin case quit after the attorney for defendant George Zimmerman argued she had a possible conflict of interest that related to her husband.
Judge Kenneth M. Lester Jr. will now preside over the case. The next judge who would be in the court rotation, John D. Galluzzo, also cited a conflict, so Lester was selected, according to a news release from the court.
Florida Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler had said she would make a decision by Friday, when a bond hearing for Zimmerman had been set. Her husband works with Orlando attorney Mark NeJame, who was first approached by Zimmerman’s family to represent the neighborhood watch volunteer. Continue reading
As the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death calls the country to examine the racial inequities of the criminal justice system, the conversation must go beyond the impulse to only focus on the man who took his life, George Zimmerman, and the police who let him walk out of their station. If we are to have any meaningful impact on how the system really works, we have to go where the real power lies – with the prosecutors, the ones who control the levers of the system in counties and states across the country.
In Martin’s case, it was prosecutor Norm Wolfinger who decided that Zimmerman should be not charged or detained that fateful evening. That moment of choice by Wolfinger is the most revealing part of the Trayvon Martin tragedy in terms of the vulnerabilities of the criminal justice system. Wolfinger was not acting as a rogue decision-maker circumventing the rules of law enforcement – he was exercising “prosecutorial discretion” – the awesome legal authority given to prosecutors to decide if an act is a matter, or not, for the criminal justice system to consider. Continue reading
This past Friday, March 30, 2012, San Jose residents of all ages and backgrounds gathered at San Jose City Hall to honor the life of Trayvon Martin, and to voice outrage at the injustice of his death. At the rally, organizations such as the NAACP, the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet, and Silicon Valley De-Bug/ACJP called on both city and county officials to sign a proclamation calling for justice for Trayvon Martin. Here are some photos:
Miguel Gonzalez made his own shirt to honor Trayvon.
Gail Noble and Nanji Jayadev.
Becky Cardenas stands with Oscar Grant's Uncle Cephus Johnson who recently returned from a trip visiting with the Martin family.
Former City Councilmember Forrest Williams addresses the crowd.
Malcolm Lee does a spoken word piece in honor of Trayvon.
Another Tragic death. We all should take deep look at our laws and the ways they affect people in practice before another tragic occurrence like this happens. Check out this moving article by a 19 year old teen from New York speaking his thoughts on the incident. – Post Submission by Cesar Flores
You would never think a walk to the store would get you killed, right? Well, that was what happened to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. As he was coming back home from the store carting an iced tea and Skittles, a neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman felt “intimidated” by the young man and shot him, killing him.
This brings up a lot of questions: When does an innocent high school student become “intimidating,” “threatening” or “suspicious”? How intimidating can someone be with a few munchies in their hand, just walking down the street? If you’re a black kid with a hoodie, is it immediately assumed that you’re “bad” or a “troublemaker”? Would things have been different if Martin was a white kid strolling down the street or if he had been dressed differently? Continue reading