Amy Cohen: Justice system ignored context of Zimmerman case
To the editor:
I have been following the Trayvon Martin case reasonably closely and have some thoughts on the justice system.
Our justice system is myopic in the sense that it does not seem to be interested in the context in which crime is committed, but just the legality of what was done. In this case the major context was racial profiling. That is what drove this crime from the outset; that’s what drew George Zimmerman to follow someone who had done nothing; that’s what caused George Zimmerman to disobey a police directive to remain in his car.
The pivotal elements of the trial concerned who was on top and who was calling for help and did George Zimmerman feel his life was in danger. The answers to those questions determined the verdict. The verdict was very unsatisfactory to many because there was no context.
The fact that racial profiling is a fact which informs how black people feel about this case and the fact that many whites do not seem to understand its historical roots in the vigilantism and hangings and racial hate crimes right to the present day is the real problem. Many blacks see this verdict as ‘open season’ on young black males.
Let’s hope that this case can be used as a jumping off point for dialogue and understanding so we can move forward and cut into the parallel universes of the races.