Streams

What The Zimmerman Trial Teaches Us About Race, Fear, and Violence

Friday, July 12, 2013

Supporters of Trayvon Martin rally in Union Square during a 'Million Hoodie March.' (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

→ Update: This segment aired Friday morning. On Saturday evening, George Zimmerman was found not guilty. We're taking your reaction on facebook, and will discuss (and take your calls) Monday morning.

As the trial of George Zimmerman comes to a close, we convene a conversation about what the trial is saying - or not saying - about race in America. How much is the trial about the particulars of the case, and how much does the trial speak to questions of race, fear, violence, masculinity, and more? Gene Denby, lead blogger for NPR's Code Switch blog, and Jelani Cobb, professor at the University of Connecticut, who's been writing about the Zimmerman trial for The New Yorker, help guide the discussion.

Guests:

William Jelani Cobb and Gene Denby

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Comments [82]

MGDUKE from NYC

George Zimmerman’s brother Robert is complaining that the widespread judgment that George’s not guilty verdict is unjust means that George will have to be “looking over his shoulder the rest of his life”.

Given that George’s admitted actions caused Trayvon Martin to spend all the life time that was left to him, from the moment that he realized George was following him, looking over his shoulder in fear, what could be more just than that George should spend the all the life time that is left to him looking over his shoulder in fear?

Isn’t it obvious that for George Zimmerman to have to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder will be exactly the kind of appropriate penalty, the contrapasso that Dante’s Inferno made clear that true justice demands for wrongdoing when it manages to evade or corrupt proper governmental justice?

From today on, shouldn’t George Zimmerman--a known killer--be followed, wherever he is seen, by volunteers, armed where possible, who do not do anything illegal, but demand every few minutes to know what he is up to, where he is going, why he is walking where he is walking, etc?

Jul. 15 2013 10:13 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ Mr. Bad from NYC

It will be very interesting to see what will happen when this rears it head again.

Jul. 14 2013 11:49 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ David from Fredericksburg, VA

No, there is evidence. :)

http://imgur.com/9wBgmtM

Click on the image to make it more readable.

Jul. 14 2013 10:36 AM

It seems that the prosecutorial misconduct of the Duke Rape Case has been duplicated.

Report: George Zimmerman special prosecutor fires IT chief who raised discovery concerns
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/trayvon-martin/os-george-zimmerman-whistleblower-fired-20130713,0,2426704.story

State Attorney Angela Corey fires information techonology director who raised concerns in Trayvon Martin case
Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-07-13/story/state-attorney-angela-corey-fires-information-techonology-director-who#ixzz2YyPyfUS9

Jul. 13 2013 08:04 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Amazing - they deleted my post that called out civicmedia on his filthy language & IT WAS DELETED!!

The filthy language removal I get, removing all evidence of his repeated filthy language is appalling.

Jul. 13 2013 06:27 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Bernie:

"we all know the statistics. young black men commit the majority of *all* crimes in this country."

Really Bernie? I had no idea that young black men stole the majority of the billions on Wall Street, made up the majority of serial killers or mass shooters at schools/ movie theaters, or are terrorists, or import the majority of drugs into the US. Typical careless, generalized nonsense you speak.

If what you meant to say was and I would agree: Whether it's by perception or fact: A disproportionate amount of violent urban street crime in NYC and other cities, are committed by young black men. Is it because they are young and black, or is it - as you CORRECTLY asserted - because of poor, lack of parenting, education, and direction?

I can assure you: If two parent working or middle class (white/asian OR BLACK) kids on the UES/Park Slope, grew up in the same environment, they would be robbing people too.

" the black community in this country needs to get their community in check, plain and simple."

How absurd would it be, to tell the "white community" to get themselves in check, every time there is a mass shooting by someone who happens to be white. What does the average Jewish guy, busting his butt to make a living, has to do with Bernie Madoff?

Your views on crime (rich/white = individual) (poor/black = collective)is sadly a popular fallacy.

Please put blame where it's due - on those individuals and perhaps their parents, and society as a hole, not on their race.

Jul. 13 2013 11:46 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@Michael from Brooklyn
"Don't kid yourself. If rolls were reversed & Martin had followed Zimmerman, confronted him, and shot him dead, he would be sitting on death row right now."

Do you think the way to solve injustice in this country is to make sure nobody receives a fair trial?

Jul. 13 2013 07:14 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

@ David from Fredericksburg.
Don't kid yourself. If rolls were reversed & Martin had followed Zimmerman, confronted him, and shot him dead, he would be sitting on death row right now.

Jul. 12 2013 11:46 PM
rose-ellen from jackson heights

Z knew that the stand your ground law applies to T as much as to M. He knew therefore that if he follows this stranger, this stranger might feel threatened and assume a stand your ground stance himself. That did not faze Z at all because he knows he's armed and has no problem shooting anyone dead who resists his intimidation[following ,and not identifying yourself and demanding answers of M]. Knowing this he proceeded to follow him with a loaded and ready to fire weapon. At some point they met and the evidence at trial shows that T did ask Z why he was following him. This was the opportunity for Z if his intentions were good and if he had no ill will to de-escalate the fear and anger that T naturally felt at being pursued by a stranger. Instead of answering him and telling him he was a neighborhood watchman and there had been burglaries there recently and that he T, looked suspicious and that the police had been called, thereby allaying, T's natural fear and anger at being followed and de-escalating the situation, Z chose to escalate by not identifying himself and explaining why he was following him. He demanded to know why T was there knowing he was intimidating him by making demands. T was now angry at this provocation of having to answer to him ,and the assault resulted. Z knowing all along he was armed now had a green light to shoot him dead. Or so he thought. Z acted like a thug; looking for a fight and provoking one and when the persons reacts, he can claim self defense after provoking the fight. Z exhibited malice and ill will initiating the confrontation by first following T and then by refusing to identify himself as benign. He incited M unabashedly and deliberately. As he felt confident in doing because he was carrying a weapon. He instigated a fight ,went looking for one which is not just bad judgment but is malicious as he knew that he could shoot any one who takes his bait and resists his intimidation. He should have been charged with 1st degree murder. This guy has a history of harassing innocent people as the neighborhood watchman. He was itching to use his gun and covered himself by calling 911 when he spotted his target M. Initiating a confrontation and then escalating one is the what bullies do. Acting like a bully is an expression of malice which is the legal requirement for a murder conviction. Z meets it .
It is UN reasonable to NOT identify yourself if you've been following someone if your intentions are good. It is reasonable to not identify yourself to the person you're following who asks why he's being followed if your intentions are to escalate his fear or anger. It is only reasonable to see Z's behavior as malicious since he consistently escalated the natural fear and anger M would feel at being pursued and not answering M's legitimate fearful question: Why are you following me?

Jul. 12 2013 10:20 PM
Tony Soprano from NJ

What it teaches is that the liberal media are determined to destroy relations in this country. Liberials are the real racists, living thier NIMBY lives. Left wing phonies.

Jul. 12 2013 09:28 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@Roy from Queens
'@David from Fredericksburg, VA
"WRONG - Zimmerman had EVERY right to follow Martin. IF Martin in fact attacked Zimmerman, case over, not guilty. If Zimmerman PHYSICALLY confronted Martin, a different story. Still need to figure out what followed to determine guilt or innocence. If Zimmerman merely verbally challenged Martin & was physically attacked, not guilty."

What right do you have to follow someone if you're not a police officer, let alone have the proper training of one? Martin possibly thought he was followed by a thug. If Zimmerman wanted to handle Martin, he could have simply say "Hello".

"In America, we DO have right to walk in our own damn neighborhood! I'm certainly not saying Martin did not also have a right to walk in the neighborhood, I'm saying SO DID Zimmerman!"

In America, we also have the right to seek justice if a crime is committed."

Yes, IF a crime is committed. Following someone in a public place is NOT a crime. This is what many here are saying - Zimmerman is guilty of murder because he followed Martin. This is FALSE. Walking in a public place - in your own neighborhood to boot - is not criminal. Accosting someone is criminal. Asking someone what they're doing in not criminal (not that the person you ask is obligated to give you an answer).

I've missed great chunks of this trial. I don't know whether Zimmerman is guilty or not. The details I've heard make me think he's not guilty of murder, or even manslaughter. If Zimmerman's "crime" was to follow Martin, there's not "there" there. If Zimmerman spoke to Martin & was not the initiator of physical confrontation, there's no "there" there. If Zimmerman tried to physically detain Martin & Martin defended himself - there's a "there" there.

I understand Martin didn't like being followed - but that did not give him a right to attack Zimmerman (if that's what happened). IF Martin attacked Zimmerman & was shot dead, what we have is a terrible tragedy, but not murder.

I also need to add - Zimmerman was NOT ordered by the police to stop following Martin, a 911 operator isn't a police officer & even if they were, what they said does not constitute a command.

Jul. 12 2013 06:45 PM
BKNYLA from Los Angeles, CA

Brian, your reductionist view of the facts is wrong because it takes Zimmerman's version of the facts to be truth, i.e. Trayvon made the first move. Zimmerman's initial statements and subsequent inconsistencies strongly support the argument that his version of the facts cannot be trusted and are not therefore truth or fact. The independent witnesses and evidence prove there was a physical altercation be we DO NOT know that Trayvon attacked. I'm surprised you let this version of events slip into your reductionist view.

Jul. 12 2013 06:32 PM
Wonderer from Harlem

Do we as Black people bare any guilt for Travon's death? Why does it appear that all too many of our youth (and adults) embrace an anti-social "thug" personae that doesn't do us any good at all? And what's with the "no snitch'n thing"? In other words "hands off our thugs". What is the message we are sending to the media? To the world? To ourselves? Don't we have enough on our plates? We have the right to act any way we want but must we go this route? Later for Zimmerman, we are killing each other and the best we can do is not snitch? If we don't value our own lives, how can we expect anyone else to? Just putting it out there.....

Jul. 12 2013 05:58 PM
bernie from bklyn

if we do 2 simple things, incidents like this would rarely occur-
1- overturn all 'stand your ground' laws and don't civilians get handguns so easily.
2- the black community in this country needs to get their community in check, plain and simple. we all know the statistics. young black men commit the majority of all crimes in this country. it's because of those criminals and that lack of parenting that this poor kid in florida had to die for no good reason.

Jul. 12 2013 04:30 PM
Roy from Queens

@David from Fredericksburg, VA
"WRONG - Zimmerman had EVERY right to follow Martin. IF Martin in fact attacked Zimmerman, case over, not guilty. If Zimmerman PHYSICALLY confronted Martin, a different story. Still need to figure out what followed to determine guilt or innocence. If Zimmerman merely verbally challenged Martin & was physically attacked, not guilty."

What right do you have to follow someone if you're not a police officer, let alone have the proper training of one? Martin possibly thought he was followed by a thug. If Zimmerman wanted to handle Martin, he could have simply say "Hello".

"In America, we DO have right to walk in our own damn neighborhood! I'm certainly not saying Martin did not also have a right to walk in the neighborhood, I'm saying SO DID Zimmerman!"

In America, we also have the right to seek justice if a crime is committed.

Jul. 12 2013 03:34 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Also, I think this is pretty instructive:

http://gawker.com/this-courtesy-of-msnbc-is-trayvon-martins-dead-body-753370712

Title of the article is:

"This, Courtesy of MSNBC, Is Trayvon Martin's Dead Body. Get Angry."

With a picture of Trayvon Martin's lifeless body staring into space.

I know Gawker is cr*p now but really?

"Get Angry."

I'm pretty sure that's exactly the sort of editorial content that we as a society need to have on the verge of a verdict that has driven people to take extreme racial views of what would otherwise be a rather unremarkable shooting. Go Gawker, get that Ca$H! If there is any violence as a result of the verdict I hope Gawker will cry for more blood, and more click though ca$h of course, it's only fair that our 4th estate gets paid!

Jul. 12 2013 01:40 PM

Nice back and forth between the guests, Brian and the police officer ("sorta back and forth"). I'm just always surprised at what's missing in this give and take - still for too many, America is a gun obsessed, male-centric, aggressive society. Crime in the city - including other areas in the US where paranoid mentally challenged stereotyping boneheads can run around playing cops and robbers - will not diminish until guns and aggressiveness aren't "cool", or the norm for many males.

I played cops and robbers as a kid - and cowboys and "injuns". Then I went to school, studied the arts, history, culture - and grew up and out of bad habits.

Needless to say, my kids didn't play kill the "bad" guy.

Jul. 12 2013 01:11 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@Roy from Queens
"Zimmerman's not a police officer. He shouldn't have been following Martin in the first place"

WRONG - Zimmerman had EVERY right to follow Martin. IF Martin in fact attacked Zimmerman, case over, not guilty. If Zimmerman PHYSICALLY confronted Martin, a different story. Still need to figure out what followed to determine guilt or innocence. If Zimmerman merely verbally challenged Martin & was physically attacked, not guilty.

In America, we DO have right to walk in our own damn neighborhood! I'm certainly not saying Martin did not also have a right to walk in the neighborhood, I'm saying SO DID Zimmerman!

Jul. 12 2013 12:40 PM
Roy from Queens

Joyce from NYC

"Since when is a 911 operator a police authority who must be obayed ???????"

"obeyed".

"sigh"

Zimmerman's not a police officer. He shouldn't have been following Martin in the first place, no matter if he had any intent of committing a crime or not. He should have done what a thoughtful, responsible citizen and waited for the real cops, not acted like he was in some Dirty Harry film.

Sadly this isn't a civilized society when you can just shoot anyone and call it self-defense under the reason of baseless paranoia. This is a mental asylum. :(

Jul. 12 2013 11:24 AM
David

A few things;

This boy could have saved his own life by simply waving and saying good evening...but instead he tried to avoid his pursuer, much like criminals do, and by doing so he classified himself as one...all it takes is a hello.

If guns were kept out of the hands of civilians Zimmerman would have never perused Trayvon. But because he felt he had the upper hand in the event of a confrontation he took matters into his own hand. But if he would have initiated a hello, and gotten one back this wouldn't have happened.

And as for profiling....If you look the part based on how you dress,talk, etc. dont be surprised when someone confuses you for something you're not.

Lastly food for thought: 1 Samuel 16:7 says "People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" the important thing to note, since we are surrounded by them, is the people part.

You can be a good person at the end of the day but if its hard to tell from a distance then maybe you should reconsider how you make yourself appear to the world around you.

Why defend a way of life that puts you at risk for being mislabeled?

Jul. 12 2013 11:23 AM

Brian, you and most of us fell for this one. So did I initially. But this case should not be framed as racial. Once again race has been used to divert attention from a dangerous agenda - this time, the left fell for it. The only question for Americans should be "Do we want to encourage people who like to carry guns to stalk, shoot and kill the rest of us because they are afraid of us?" Calling it racial compartmentalizes it, and diverts our attention from the threat to all of us. Think about it. If it is OK for the armed and fearful to stalk and kill the rest of us, then think about applying this same law and perspective to a young lady coming home from a prom. Could she be stalked and murdered inside the law? What about if Zimmerman were a young black male legally armed? Can one young black male stalk and kill another? Would it be OK if Zimmerman was a mom and Travon was a middle aged white guy who looked like the released convicted pedophile posted on the internet? Unless you are asking these questions that implicate all of us, get race and gender off the table for the sake of all Americans. I don't know what the prosecutor is doing, but I'm sure he and the gun lobby do. Had he framed the charge differently, we would all realize that this is a matter of protecting the lawful fabric of our society. All he has done is assure that this case goes the route of all similar "suspicious unarmed black male cases." This is a matter of safety and freedom from fear for all of Americans. The agenda of those who believe American society would be better off were all of us who consider ourselves "good guys" armed, trained, and authorized to kill at our own discretion is the only agenda we support by framing and discussing this case in racial terms. We must be smarter in the future. The armed and fearful should not be empowered to stalk other Americans. Signed: An African American woman.

Jul. 12 2013 11:12 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

One more thing to keep in mind. This trial should never have happened.

Ask any lawyer you know and who trusts you enough to tell you the truth, no matter how much it may hurt.

The consensus in the legal community, black or white, gay or straight, woman and men is that there is nowhere near enough evidence to get a murder conviction, never was, and everybody was looking.

Zimmerman had a long, checkered life - don't you think if he had said even one racist thing to the wrong person they would have jumped out of the woodwork to let everyone know?

Instead his black best friend and neighbors risked calumny and threats to DEFEND him as someone who was not remotely racist.

The police did not want to bring charges, neither did the DA - they had to bring in another DA who was more "agreeable" to shepherd this ridiculous show trial to its conclusion. This says a lot about the state of our society and the rule of law.

Jul. 12 2013 11:07 AM
Craig from France

The guy who was excitedly supportive of law enforcement made some important points that weren't properly addressed by Brian or his guests. Stop & Frisk isn't perfect but it is saving lives. The stats are amazingly clear. I'm sure there are ways the program can be improved but opening up the department to lawsuits will kill it and as a result kill young minority men, innocent bystanders, and increase armed robbery.
It is also true that gun laws & stand your ground laws are the reason Trayvon is dead. Sure, Zimmerman was an over zealous pseudo security guy & should have listened to the police and left Trayvon alone & stayed away from him. Also, it is possible Trayvon was pissed off at Zimmerman because he felt he was being racially profiled, etc... and started a fight with him. A fight is one thing but once you pull a gun and shoot someone it's entering another world.
The media has definitely done a horrible job with this case right from the start. I remember when it first happened the only picture being circulated of Trayvon was of a super innocent looking junior high student. The reality was that he was basically an adult wearing a hooded sweatshirt, had been having trouble with school & had been smoking pot. Doesn't mean he's guilty of anything more than smoking a little pot but could easily make a neighborhood watch person take notice. When I was a lifeguard I of course profiled people going into the ocean knowing full well who was more likely to get into trouble. Is a neighborhood watch person more likely to pay much attention to an old couple walking down the street or.... ? Seriously.

Jul. 12 2013 10:59 AM
John A

I read most comments - something not mentioned here is that when police investigate assault, when there no eye witnesses it can become prime time for lying. I saw this first hand. I called the police after an assault and was out-lied by the other person. Now if I had been killed, how far could a good liar have gotten in that case? The second voice is gone here.

Jul. 12 2013 10:58 AM
Scott from Soho

Brian,

You described George Zimmerman as a "white hispanic". I am curious why you mentioned that he is white as opposed to simply hispanic. I can't wait for you to refer to Obama as a "white black". You are helping turn a confrontation between two individuals into a race issue.

Does anyone else think this whole situation could have been avoided if both parties involved had made a quick call to police?

Jul. 12 2013 10:52 AM
mike on long island from long island

i would have made 2 comments if i had been able to get on the phone. one, the guest said that because school mass shootings are overall committed by whites, then should all whites be profiled ?? in in entire country of 250 million people, in a terrible year, there may be 5 mass school shootings
( by whites) . in a " person of color" neighborhood in NYC, among a population .00001 % of the entire country, there could be 5 shootings in a single day! you do the math. you should feel so much safer in a " white" public school than a neighborhood " of color"

secondly, has anyone commented on the overall performance of the sanford police dept? if they have a historically terrible response time, that could prompt a person to be less inclined to wait for the police. even black people in that neighborhood were tired and afraid of black robbing their homes.

Jul. 12 2013 10:50 AM
Zareh from Brooklyn

If the verdict is not-guilty, this trial will have set a precedent for anyone thinking of getting away with murder:

Antagonize the person you want to kill, get them to react, and then shoot them in 'self-defense'.

Let's call it the Zimmerman Defense.

Jul. 12 2013 10:48 AM

Fuva, thanks for your clarity as ever. The cry of "race-baiting" in some of these comments -- with its dismissive demand to shut down any discussion of race -- is perhaps as insidious as the cry of "anti-white racism."

Jul. 12 2013 10:48 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ fuva from harlemworld

I don't want to recapitulate all of our previous comments but I have a question:

Do you think, or are you promoting the idea that, a person can physically attack someone who is following them or who they suspect is following them minus any other provocation or with minimal provocation such as "Hey, who are you?" or "Hey, do you live here?". Serious question.

Jul. 12 2013 10:47 AM
John A

I don't agree for a second that the racial situation is 'no better' than it was 50 years ago. I would absolutely agree that the class situation should provide more blue collar jobs - that has racial overtones, but its not at it's core a racist situation. As for the stand your ground laws, let's get those changed.

Jul. 12 2013 10:44 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

The conversation:

Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah.
Dispatcher: Ok, we don't need you to do that.
Zimmerman: Ok.

At which point Zimmerman says he stopped following him and there is no evidence presented to contradict him thus far.

"We don't need you to do that"

DOES NOT MEAN

"Do not follow him"

not that that matters unless it was a police officer making the statement.

Jul. 12 2013 10:42 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Without announcing himself, Zimmerman amateurishly pursued Trayvon (who was DOING NOTHING) in a way could have easily been construed as scary and provocative. This grown man, with a rap sheet for offenses against a cop and a woman, started an unnecessary confrontation in which he killed an unarmed teenager. And yet, this isn't the focus.

Jul. 12 2013 10:40 AM
Jro from Upstate NY

@jgarbuz, maybe its because black people ARE NOT as eager to break into your house, steal your stuff, or commit crimes as you thought they were?

Jul. 12 2013 10:40 AM
S.B from NY

Did Brian just say "By all accounts" Zimmerman profiled Martin? That's the stand of the prosecution and of Martin's supporters, of course, but I don't think it's unanimously agreed upon at all.

I'm surprised to hear Brian make such a statement. He usually tries to be objective.

Jul. 12 2013 10:40 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@Tyler from Manhattan
"Want to see restrictions on gun ownership?"

That ship already sailed. Gun control laws in the 60's were to stop the "undesirables" from owning guns. When "regular" people saw their rights being affected, they raised hell. This is the root of the current stance of the NRA - they had originally supported the gun control laws & the people were all tossed out of the leadership of the NRA because of this.

Jul. 12 2013 10:40 AM
Tonny from Canarsie

I suspect the newspaper your caller John got his information from was either WorldNetDaily or the Drudge Report. Classic straw man argument.

Jul. 12 2013 10:39 AM
Daniel in KC from Kansas City, MO

Part of Zimmerman's defense is his inability to defend himself phsycially. To me, the permissive gun laws allow people to feel empowered to 'take matters into their own hands' leading to violence like this. Concealed Carry allowed this to happen.

Jul. 12 2013 10:39 AM
Jean from Manhattan

OK, Brian, enough race bating for one day.

Jul. 12 2013 10:38 AM
fuva from harlemworld

It's one thing to identify with George Zimmerman and another to not understand that he nevertheless racially profiled Trayvon, and that this is wrong.

WE DON'T KNOW WHO THREW THE FIRST PUNCH. But understand that, in any case, it did not start the confrontation.

Without announcing himself, Zimmerman amateurishly pursued Trayvon, who was DOING NOTHING, in a way could have easily been construed as scary and provocative. This grown man, with a rap sheet for offenses against a cop and a woman, started an unnecessary confrontation in which he killed an unarmed teenager. And yet, this isn't the focus.

This shituation brings out many, many issues that MUST be addressed, including the aggression of racial profiling.

The idiot Lieutenant just advocated for stopping.citizens.because.they.are.black. Nevertheless, his call provided an opportunity to expose the logical fallacy of this thought process. He and his ilk have it twisted, just like he twisted Brian's comment.

Unfortunately, Brian also gets it twisted when he appears to emphathize with the Lieutenant's frustration with the media attention. This totally misses the fact that ZIMMERMAN'S ACTIONS WERE NOT PROPERLY INVESTIGATED. The complicity of the state here is what's operative in the outrage.

The "anti-white racism" caller exemplifies how very very far we have to go. Black folk, we must get back on our game.

Jul. 12 2013 10:38 AM
fuva from harlemworld

It's one thing to identify with George Zimmerman and another to not understand that he nevertheless racially profiled Trayvon, and that this is wrong.

WE DON'T KNOW WHO THREW THE FIRST PUNCH. But understand that, in any case, it did not start the confrontation.

Without announcing himself, Zimmerman amateurishly pursued Trayvon, who was DOING NOTHING, in a way could have easily been construed as scary and provocative. This grown man, with a rap sheet for offenses against a cop and a woman, started an unnecessary confrontation in which he killed an unarmed teenager. And yet, this isn't the focus.

This shituation brings out many, many issues that MUST be addressed, including the aggression of racial profiling.

The idiot Lieutenant just advocated for stopping.citizens.because.they.are.black. Nevertheless, his call provided an opportunity to expose the logical fallacy of this thought process. He and his ilk have it twisted, just like he twisted Brian's comment.

Unfortunately, Brian also gets it twisted when he appears to emphathize with the Lieutenant's frustration with the media attention. This totally misses the fact that ZIMMERMAN'S ACTIONS WERE NOT PROPERLY INVESTIGATED. The complicity of the state here is what's operative in the outrage.

The "anti-white racism" caller exemplifies how very very far we have to go. Black folk, we must get back on our game.

Jul. 12 2013 10:38 AM
Roger from Washington Heights

The police officer caller, Dan, made the best argument for the city of New York's policing policies I've heard from any source. As a black person here in the city it doesn't fall on death ears that my community is not recovering from 50 deaths over a single weekend. The statistics of violence and crime in NYC hurts our egos but they don't lie. I'm thankful for my safety.

Jul. 12 2013 10:38 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Joyce

No I don't know what is going on in other communities outside of where I live. I do know that I grew up as a kid in one of the worst neighborhoods in the country in the 1950s and early '60s and somehow managed to survive, and since Giuliani became mayor with his policies, crime in New York City has dropped tremendously, going from the "ungovernable city" to the safest major city in the country. I lived in Israel from 1982 to 1991, and my home was broken into twice over there by minor robbers. But I never was broken into or robbed in my predominantly black neighborhood here in Far Rocakway, Queens, NY. What else can I say?

Jul. 12 2013 10:38 AM
Jro from Upstate NY

Let us not forget, this was not a murdered black "man" this was a murdered black CHILD. By US standards, Martin was still a child. It's sad that in all aspects of the law, this child was not protected...at all.

Jul. 12 2013 10:37 AM
Tyler from Manhattan

Want to see restrictions on gun ownership?... Black and Hispanics start buying and carrying legal guns openly
Start showing up at gun shows and buying guns.

All of a sudden the "John's" of the world and their conservative talk show propaganda brain washers will find a reason to start to restrict gun ownership....

Jul. 12 2013 10:36 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

the black panthers, hahahahaha.... where do these scared pathetic white people come from? oh, i know, everywhere...... hahaha, calgon take me away

Jul. 12 2013 10:35 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Bill Lawrence

FACT: A police dispatcher is not a Police Officer and cannot issue lawful orders.

FACT: He was not ordered not to follow him, it was SUGGESTED he not do so. They are not equivalent and it is not a semantic argument, it is a fact.

RESOLVED!

Jul. 12 2013 10:35 AM
Don't go to florida. Next?

Wow! Florida sounds great!

And how wonderful learning about these classy gated communities.

Jul. 12 2013 10:34 AM

My question is: If Martin had hit Zimmerman's head against the ground hard enough to kill Zimmerman before Zimmerman drew his gun, and then went to the nearest house to say that he'd been followed by an armed man who accosted him, would the police have simply decided it was self defense and let it go at that? I doubt it.

Jul. 12 2013 10:34 AM
bernie from bklyn

if he was actually racially profiled by zimmerman and if young black men are frequently racially profiled in every city in this country, the question has to be- why?
why are young,black men racially profiled? is it because all white people, all cops, all korean grocers, all cab drivers, all half-white/half-latino wannabe cops, etc. are all inherently evil and racist? or is there another reason why young, black men are profiled?

Jul. 12 2013 10:33 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Re: Reductionist theory: Brian, what you leave out of it was that the "neighborhood watcher" was told *explicitly* by the police to *not* approach the "suspicious" person but to wait until they arrived. Whatever this amateur and self-appointed "protector" did after that was a violation of a direct police instruction and he is responsible for the consequences.

Jul. 12 2013 10:33 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

douglas - hahahaha, of course, it is always only a matter of time before someone brings up al Sharpton.... I love white people

Jul. 12 2013 10:33 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Re the current caller, why is it legal for Zimmerman to be carrying a gun?

By DEFAULT, we have the right to carry unconcealed weapons. There must be a law specifically denying that right, otherwise open carry is legal, by default.

Many people are confused & believe that laws are needed in order to be allowed to carry a weapon - this is just not so.

Jul. 12 2013 10:33 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

LEGAL ISSUE RESOLVED:

"PROFILING" is an LE term. A civilian cannot "PROFILE" anyone, you cannot, for instance, sue a civilian for "PROFILING" because a civilian cannot deprive someone of their civil right to be treated equally under the law UNLESS they are acting under "color of law", which Zimmerman was not. DO YOU GET IT? It's pure rhetoric.

RESOLVED!

Jul. 12 2013 10:32 AM
Bill Lawrence

I think the crux of the prosecutor's argument should be that Zimmerman was instructed by the police to back off and return to his car...that they were on the way. Instead, he followed that boy, creating a confrontational situation, and shot the boy in the inevitable scuffle that ensued. In my mind, that alone says Zimmerman was the aggressor and should be found guilty.

Jul. 12 2013 10:30 AM

Too bad we can't get beyond race and ask why are so many crazy people carrying guns?

Jul. 12 2013 10:30 AM
Ben from Westchester

I'm a regular old white guy but would like to remind the Brian Lehrer Show not to miss one of the most important points of this case.

The trial will yield what it yields. Those who have sat on a jury, as I have, know that the verdict they render will rest on many things that those outside of the jury box will never know or hear.

But for me, equally as important as the trial will be the fact that Sanford Florida took six weeks to even decide to bring in George Zimmerman to a police station.

Whatever happens, that fact tells us as much about the deep racism of Florida as would anything that will happen in the courtroom.

Jul. 12 2013 10:30 AM
W from manhattan

No one seems to be commenting on the intersection of gun laws with all of this and the stand your ground laws. Trayvon was killed because there was a weapon in Zimmermans hands

Jul. 12 2013 10:29 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

LEGAL ISSUE RESOLVED:

There is no legal right to attack someone who is following you. Case friggin' closed. Does anybody have a brain anymore?

Jul. 12 2013 10:29 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

The whole notion that the media "teaches" us anything is probably the most disturbing notion that's come out of this whole imbroglio.

Editorial journalism has its place but when various media sources (Right/Left) take unprincipled stands based on media propagated lies in order to boost their ratings and fire up radical elements on both sides it is nothing but political public relations ... there is very little about this story that has been reported with reference to the actual known FACTS and statutes involved.

The statutes and facts have been deliberately IGNORED in order to promote tendentious narratives to their respective base. It's unforgivable.

Jul. 12 2013 10:27 AM
Douglas from NY

Brian or anyone out there, put yourself in Zimmerman's place. If somebody punches you and smashes you head against the concrete curb and you have a gun, what would YOU do? What if Martin approached Zimmerman with words like "Why are you following me?" instead of with his fists, what would have happened. As far as 'profiling', did Zimmerman picked Martin out among others on that street that night because he is black. What others? I am sorry to say it but Brian, where did you learn your race-baiting from, Al Sharpton? This case became racial only because of racial politics. If all the events stay exactly they were and Martin was Hispanic, would Zimmerman not shot him?

Jul. 12 2013 10:27 AM
Moralez from Bronx

it is not illegal to follow someone - it is illegal to bash someones skull into the ground and then pound on them from above. The hyperbole on this comment section is ridiculous. People see what they want. To hell with reality, huh.

Jul. 12 2013 10:27 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The fact that 90% or 95% of the shootings are done by African-Americans (actually, I think Latinos are included in that number) doesn't mean that 90% of...& I hear Prof. Cobb making this exact point. Yes, it doesn't mean the same percentage of African Americans are doing the shooting.

I'll add that police need to elicit more detailed descriptions from witnesses than just race & sex. If a witness describes an attacker as white, would police stop & frisk 90% of whites in the area? Or even 10%, or whatever matches the percentage of shootings are done by white perpetrators?

Jul. 12 2013 10:26 AM
Joyce from NYC

BK from Hoboken:

<<Zimmerman is ultimately responsible though, regardless of who hit first, because he didn't back off as instructed by the 911 operator>>

Since when is a 911 operator a police authority who must be obayed ???????

Jul. 12 2013 10:26 AM
Scott

As for Zimmerman's culpability, he disregarded an order from the Police Department that set in motion a chain of events leading to someone's death. Without suggesting anything either way on murder, that should be sufficient for manslaughter and probably civil rights on top of that. The fact that Zimmerman's life was in danger, even if accurate, does not change this because Zimmerman put himself in danger by disregarding the Police Department.

Jul. 12 2013 10:24 AM

http://lawofselfdefense.com/zimmerman-trial-myth-busters-did-zimmerman-chase-down-a-fleeing-martin/

Jul. 12 2013 10:23 AM
BK from Hoboken

Wow. I agree with Martin for once. It is true. Zimmerman will get off on the murder charge. There is a TON of doubt in this case. I think it's easy to say that Zimmerman is ultimately responsible though, regardless of who hit first, because he didn't back off as instructed by the 911 operator, and Trayvon ended up dead. It's a shame. No one wins. I guess it can't hurt to help open a debate.

Jul. 12 2013 10:23 AM

Why do so many keep evading the bottom line: Martin was unarmed and not committing any crime; Zimmerman was armed and shot him dead because Zimmerman erroneously, prejudicially perceived a young black male to be out of place.

Jul. 12 2013 10:22 AM
Joyce from NYC

jgarbuz from Queens
To Sheldon

<<The fears are more psychological than anything else. I certainly grew up to be cautious and careful about my surroundings, but also learned that there is more to fear from fear itself than from the actual reality. >>

jgarbuz -- DO YOU KNOW THIS TO BE THE FACT IN CITIES OTHER THAN NEW YORK??????

Jul. 12 2013 10:22 AM

Zimmerman is guilty of being someone who needed to prove himself. It wasn't murder or even manslaughter if he was being attacked. It's racial because MSM made it about race.

Jul. 12 2013 10:22 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

arrogant racist cops.... I love white people

Jul. 12 2013 10:21 AM
Roy from Queens

A boy's dead because of societal fear and stupidity, and how the hell are we supposed to call ourselves civilized?

Jul. 12 2013 10:21 AM
J Ro from Upstate NY

to the cop who called in, you are not getting the point...stopping people based on race is simply WRONG! Its racial profiling at its best.

Jul. 12 2013 10:20 AM

Mr. Lehrer:

Can the jury come to a verdict of "Not Guilty" and still serve the "larger" community interest?

Jul. 12 2013 10:20 AM
Joyce from NYC

TELL THE TRUTH

this is really getting disgusting

1. Yes, it is tragic, yes, Zimmerman should not have been so aggressive

2. Is Zimmerman innocent/justifie, or guilty -- the jury will edie

BUT, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TALK ABOUT CRIMES COMMITTED BY BLACK (LIKE IN CHICAGO) !!!!!!!

Jul. 12 2013 10:19 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"There are no winners here."

A perfect observation.

Jul. 12 2013 10:16 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Brian, the question is EXACTLY who attacked first. Leave the "stand your ground" law aside for a moment. If Zimmerman attacked first he is a murderer, plain and simple. The fact that we don't KNOW is the problem.

Jul. 12 2013 10:15 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Brian -

So, walking behind someone, in a public space, shouldn't be allowed?

And it was just fine if Martin attacked Zimmerman for doing so?

Jul. 12 2013 10:15 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I hear you JG. But perception unfortunately - is everything...

Jul. 12 2013 10:14 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

I don't usually care for Juan Williams but I think he hit the nail on the head:

"Ultimately, it is the job of the media to give straight, objective coverage of any story.

Whatever the final verdict on Zimmerman, the media is clearly guilty of playing on the most primitive racial divisions in our society to fuel racial animosity and boost ratings.

There are no winners here."

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/07/11/white-hispanics-crackers-teenage-mammies-no-winners-in-martin-zimmerman-case/

Jul. 12 2013 10:11 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Sheldon

I grew up in the housing projects in the 1950s when things were really tough for the only young white Jewish kid left in the housing projects in those rough years. But today I still live in a predominantly black neighborhood, in Far Rockaway, and don't fear in the slightest "hoodies" or anybody else. My suburbanized Jewish friends are still fearful to come into my "bad neighborhood" from their cul de sacs, although it's not a bad neighborhood at all for me, and hasn't been since "Giuliani days." That's nearly 20 years ago. The fears are more psychological than anything else. I certainly grew up to be cautious and careful about my surroundings, but also learned that there is more to fear from fear itself than from the actual reality. The actual reality is that nearly all of my neighbors want peace and quiet and to raise their families in peace. I see black fathers today walking hand in hand with their children, something that was quite rare to see back in the old days in the housing projects in the '50s and '60s. But those were the days when the welfare department only gave checks to fatherless homes, so guess who got pushed out into the streets! But that has changed a lot, thankfully.

Jul. 12 2013 10:00 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

This case probably was no more than an over-zealous nut job making some poor decisions, leading to a kid with some candy and eventually Zimmernam himself, feeling they both had to defend themselves.

Zimmerman not being arrested for days. Would that have been the case if the roles were reversed? I can't see Trevorn not being arrested if he had bashed Zimmernan's skull in, "standing his ground"

"They always get away" - Zimmerman may have not meant it in racial terms but it sent a chill down the spine of most black mothers in this country.

The disproportionate amount of young black men involved in urban crime in this country - the celebration of that perception in hip-hop culture and the repercussions it causes, from stop and frisk to the fear MOST people have - black, white and other, of men (innocent or not) of color.

It's 1am - three young men in hoodies are casually walking towards you - they happen to be black, honestly - does your heart beat a little faster?

Jul. 12 2013 09:49 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

What it teaches us is still how deep racial suspicions and fears still run under the surface. If one altercation between a white and a black can rouse so much of a brouhaha, hen we are still not all that different from the Balkans or the Middle East. If the situation had been between a white and a white, or a black and a black, it would never even been in the news at all. Or if it had been a white shopkeeper killed in a robbery by a black, it would have been in the news but not caused a major brouhaha. It shows that in a diverse, multiethnic, multiracial society, we cannot have honest justice. It will always get politicized and racialized when it involves individuals of different ethnicities or races. Very sad in this day and age. "Times may change, but people don't" -Mama Rose.

Jul. 12 2013 09:25 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.