Monday Morning Politics: DC Reacts to the Zimmerman Trial

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bob Cusack, Managing Editor for The Hill, talks about how Washington, DC is reacting to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, from President Obama's comments to the Justice Department's decision to re-open the option of a civil hate crimes case.


Bob Cusack

Comments [29]

" . . . If you want to prevent the next Trayvon Martin tragedy, learn from their mistakes. Don’t paint the world in black and white. Don’t declare the whole justice system racist, or blame every gun death on guns, or confuse acquittal with vindication. And the next time you see somebody who looks like a punk or a pervert, hold your fire."

Jul. 16 2013 01:33 PM

For your convenience:

we petition the obama administration to:
Civil Rights Prosecution of Angela Corey by United States Department of Justice for She Deliberately Withheld Evidence

Civil Rights Prosecution of Angela Corey by United States Department of Justice for the unlawful Prosecution of George Zimmerman for depriving him of his Constitutional Rights of Life and Liberty by the United States Department of Justice, Eric Holder, United States Attorney General in United States District Court as swiftly and expeditiously as is possible.

Angela Corey is alleged to have omitted material exculpatory facts, such as photographs of the wounds on George Zimmerman's head, which go to his defense of "self defense."

Jul. 16 2013 11:26 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

@"Listening from New York"

The old definition in the 1980's of a "neo-conservative" was "a liberal who has been mugged."

Jul. 16 2013 04:50 AM
Listening from new york

I am a white lady, who was told as she was growing up that blacks might be dangerous. And they were. When I was 23, I was mugged in my home by a young black man whom I didn't know who was well-dressed and seemed trustable.

I am retirement age now. Things have changed, but that mugging will never lessen the fear of what I unfairly experienced there and then.

This story is very, very, very complicated. Unravelling all the strands will take a lot. Let's keep our ears open to each other, and to different opinions, in the process.

Yes, many, many black men have been kind to me since. But that mugging was terrifying and there must be a whole generation with that fear.

Sure, there have been plenty, mainly, kind people since. But such a horrific attack as that one was -- to someone who was liberal and trying to be open-hearted -- left a mark.

Jul. 15 2013 07:52 PM
yoo hoo from new york city

I think there is something important being left out of this whole discussion.

Remember when George Zimmerman was called Hispanic? Did you hear his mother's accent in the trial coverage? Why did he become reclassified as "white" and the ugly black/white struggle become invoked?

Why hasn't Brian brought this up??

Jul. 15 2013 07:45 PM

I am a little white lady. I worked for 10 years going in and out of NYC Projects everyday. One time these events reminded me of was when a black teenager came up to me out of nowhere as I was walking in an isolated spot. He quietly pointed out that my purse was open, I laughed at my stupidity and thanked him, he smiled sweetly and walked on. This unknown kid was looking out for me, knowing we all do dumb stuff like that occasionally, and I'm thankful he was confident enough to say something. If I lived in Florida it would apparently have been fine for me to pull a gun on that kid and kill him before he uttered a word. It's a crazy world. My heart goes out to Trayvon Martin's family and all the youth of today, whatever their color, because their trust and confidence are being eroded day by day.

Jul. 15 2013 02:45 PM

Mayor "Boomberger" is the "Captain Renault" of this story -

"OMG, there's profiling going on here!"

"We have to discourage shoot first and ask questions later scenarios!"

How much money is contributed to WNYC/NPR by sources owned or controlled by Michael Bloomberg?

Jul. 15 2013 01:16 PM

The Justice Dept. began investigating the Zimmerman-Martin case during the Spring of 2012. At the time the federal investigation was suspended for the State criminal proceedings, there was no negative information developed on Mr. Zimmerman. (Unless, of course, Federal officials withheld such evidence from the Florida prosecutors who seemed desperate in their search for evidence demonstrating Zimmerman's alleged racial animus.)
There were some media reports of the Federal investigation during 2012 -
e.g., .

Someone should point out to Mr. Lehrer, and the other WNYC legal luminaries, that the same public policy considerations behind Florida's "Stand-Your-Ground" immunity from prosecution in criminal cases (an "immunity" that was not invoked by Mr. Zimmerman during his recent trial) has also provided "immunity" from civil actions to parties who are sued for damages as a result of injuries caused by the recognized "justifiable use of force" and that the Florida statute grants " . . . reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided . . . "
[ 2012 Florida Statutes Title XLVI CRIMES Chapter 776 JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE 776.032 ]

Mr. and Mrs. Martin, and their attorney, will have to decide how much they want to wager to call Mr. O'Mara's assertion / bluff that he will seek immunity for Mr. Zimmerman against any civil actions.

There is something unseemly, almost ghoulish, in the tones of voice that look forward to a civil suit against Mr. Zimmerman - relishing the expectation of forcing him to re-answer questions not only about that night, but also about any and all questions about matters that might uncover relevant evidence about the events of that night. Those in favor of a civil action should realize that all matters will be fair game - the "process" will not depend on the details of Trayvon's life and his parents' behavior created by attorney Crump for spoon-feeding to a willing and partisan media.

Lastly, two (2) points of curiosity:

Has WNYC contributed financially to any of the groups or funds that are seeking criminal or civil remedies against Mr. Zimmerman?

Does anyone think a Federal "civil rights" investigation should be conducted into the Florida Special Prosecutor's firing of personnel who exposed her office's failure to comply with lawful discovery"?

State Attorney Angela Corey fires information technology director who raised concerns in Trayvon Martin case

Jul. 15 2013 12:39 PM
Joe Pearce from Brooklyn

Apologies are in order. I just left a fairly long diatribe on this site, but it was actually intended for the Brian Lehrer Show, so feel free to read it and disregard it.

Jul. 15 2013 11:32 AM
LC from bergen county

I followed this case VERY closely the past several weeks, and I have changed my mind on Zimmerman's guilt and Trayvon's role since the initial media release of the incident. It is a divisive issue, and I have refrained from discussions on facebook so far, but I need to point out a few things today. Here's what I learned that made a difference:
1. Zimmerman is a "brown man" not a "white" man. He could be considered biracial if you will, as he is actually 1/8th black (a great grandfather on his mother's side), and also is hispanic via his Peruvian mother.
2. Trayvon made racial comments (as related by his friend on the phone, Rachel Jeantel) - Trayvon referred to Zimmerman as a "creepy ass cracker" and "nigger" , so let's just remove the racial aspect, because you don't truly know their minds. Zimmerman has already been cleared of a racially-motivated crime/ this was not qualified as a hate crime acc'ding to legal standards.
3. This was an avoidable incident on both their parts, yes George Zimmerman could have stayed in his car until police arrived at the scene after he called 911, but Trayvon could have just walked or ran home, and avoided confrontation, he would have easily been lost in the pathway in the dark, Zimmerman never ran after him or chase him in his car.
4. Trayvon was profiled based on his behavior, not his color. There was a rash of crimes, home invasions, thefts in that neighborhood leading up to the night Zimmerman encountered Martin. He was not racially profiling, he was profiling a youth wandering around on a rainy dark night looking at the homes (appeared to be casing the place) wearing the infamous hoodie, and he did his due diligence by calling non-emergency dispatcher and asked for a police car. Unfortunately the car arrived too late.
Trayvon had THC (marijuana) in his blood. Zimmerman had alerted police that the guy looked like he was on drugs. I don't think this was mentioned in the trial, even though the defense was permitted by the judge to bring it into evidence.
5. Forensic evidence and eye witness reports all indicated Trayvon was mounted on top of Zimmerman, Zimmerman feared his head injuries were leading to loss of consciousness, concussion or even death.
6. Only one person called for help - cried out, I believe the same one that called 911, George. If Trayvon was that frightened by the guy following him, he should have run away fast, called the police or called his parents.
Instead the evidence leads to the belief that he threw the first punch.
(incidentally almost all or all of the crimes in that gated community were committed by young black males)
Again, this is a tragic event and has become divisive due to the racial implications, however the jurors were correct in their verdict of not guilty, they had no choice. Almost all the judicial experts and commentators have agreed, except for one, Sunny Hostin on CNN (I followed the whole trial on CNN,which covered it completely)

Jul. 15 2013 11:02 AM
S.B. from NY

Shame on the pandering NYC mayoral candidates for calling the Zimmerman verdict "insulting," etc. As Brian and his guest pointed out, the trial and the jurors had many constraints: the gun-carry and self-defense laws in Florida; the lack of eyewitnesses; conflicting and unclear testimony from witnesses; the prosecution pursuing a 2nd-degree murder charge, which was too high a bar to meet considering the evidence available; etc. etc.

One of those mayoral candidates may get elected & find themselves having to address a controversial jury verdict made by fellow New Yorkers. I wonder if they'd have the nerve to call that verdict "insulting"?

Jul. 15 2013 10:56 AM
Rob from the Bronx from Bronx, NY

I know that there is talk about civil charges against Zimmerman but can any action be taken against the police? The police failed to properly secure the scene and made assumptions about Trayvon that led them to not collect the proper forensic evidence that could have affected the case. At the very least there should be a change in how the police approach a (potential) crime scene going forward. On another note, thought experiment: If a black man shoots a white man/teenager and goes on trial having an all black or nearly all black jury, what would be the response?

Jul. 15 2013 10:53 AM
Joe Pearce from Brooklyn

One of your interviewees ended his participation by stating that opinion was really divided out there on the Zimmerman situation and verdict. Unless I was asleep, that was the first time I had heard anyone on the Lehrer show, or on the program preceding it, even mention that there were people out there - quite probably more than 50% of the population - that, although they regarded the whole situation as tragic, also believed the only proper verdict for Mr. Zimmerman could be 'not guilty'.

Mr. Lehrer tries to come over as middle-of-the-road, and succeeds most of the time (probably because he sounds like a very nice man), but based upon years of listening, he is anything but that, and he occasionally errs by stating 'we' when speaking to many who advocate positions of the left.

If the DOJ pursues any kind of hate crime charges, it will be perceived by almost all except the people whom NPR interviews to excess (and whose opinions do not appear to be mirrored in such great preponderence elsewhere in the general media) as nothing more than persecution. The hate crime laws are essentially un-American and undemocratic in concept because they propose to identify a defendant's thought processes, which even psychiatrists have a very hard time in doing. A crime is a crime. If Mr. Zimmerman wrongfully (by law) killed Trayvon Martin, he should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law; whether he hated Mr. Martin, loved Mr. Martin, hates blacks, loves blacks, is indifferent to both Mr. Martin's race and blacks in general should bear no part in any prosecution, state or federal. He is either guilty of the charges brought against him or he is not guilty of them, and the reasons why he did or did not do something are peripheral. People have a right to their thoughts! If he had killed his wife, and it was found that he hated her, would anybody be considering it a hate crime against women and recommending prosecution by the DOJ? Would it be enough for him to hate her, or would he have to hate all women? There, is that far enough out? I think so, but such stupid laws sound more like the Old USSR than the New Diversified America.

Jul. 15 2013 10:52 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Lets face it the last caller is a bigot and a racist. Racism is alive and well racism America. So let’s stop lecturing others in the world about the America’s glorious judicial system and America’s concern with human rights.
No one on the planet takes that nonsense seriously.

Jul. 15 2013 10:48 AM
Claude from Westchester

The continuing suspicion of "outside agitators" is very similiar to the sentiments expressed by the frustration of the Turkish government, and others, over recent protests. Those in power for whatever reason do not assume that those who are subject to their dominance can ever rise up on their own either because of arrogance or blindness. It seems that Florida governance needs a good shock as it dangerously out of balance.

Jul. 15 2013 10:45 AM

Wasn't Trayvon also defending himself, "standing his ground," against what he perceived as a threat -- from the "creepy-ass cracker" stalking him?

Jul. 15 2013 10:45 AM
Mick from Inwood

The Florida law worked almost as it was intended: the last, white man standing was protected from conviction. It was SUPPOSED to protect him from prosecution. If Martin, or any black man had shot Zimmerman first, he would certainly have been prosecuted and probably convicted. Zimmerman should be hounded for the rest of his life. The civil lawsuit should be the first step (civil rights prosecution would probably fail in Florida, so what would be the point?) Any place that hires Zimmerman should be picketed and their products boycotted. This legalized murder should never be allowed to be forgotten, or all minority or "out-groups" will never be safe .

Jul. 15 2013 10:37 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

I want to reiterate the fact that - from the beginning - Zimmerman was handled as one who acted in self defense. Moreover, the Florida "stand your ground" law played a role in why police did not treat Zimmerman as a person involved as a potential initiator of a crime.

From today's NY Times:

"Soon after Mr. Zimmerman was arrested, there appeared to be a chance that the defense would invoke a provision of Florida self-defense law known as Stand Your Ground. Ultimately it was not part of Mr. O’Mara’s courtroom strategy, though it did play a pivotal role immediately after the shooting.

The provision, enacted by the Florida Legislature in 2005 and since adopted by more than 20 other states, allows people who fear great harm or death not to retreat, even if they can safely do so. If an attacker is retreating, people are still permitted to use deadly force.

The provision also allows a defendant claiming self-defense to seek civil and criminal immunity at a pretrial hearing.

Mr. O’Mara said he did not rely on Stand Your Ground as a defense because Mr. Zimmerman had no option to retreat. A pretrial immunity hearing, which prosecutors said they had been expecting, would only have divulged his case. So Mr. O’Mara gambled on a jury trial."

Jul. 15 2013 10:37 AM
Christine from Westchster

Lots of second guesssing here. I find this segment to be extremely biased. The verdict is in folks: it's unfair to be re-trying Zimmerman. And if you are going to do so, why so biased? How about the facts about crimes in the area prior to the incident?

Jul. 15 2013 10:33 AM
The Truth from Becky

What Joe said and "best judicial system in the world" is relevant, depending on who you are.

Jul. 15 2013 10:32 AM

It would be nice if a victim could argue in court first, about whether she would be justified in shooting her assailant. But an assailant doesn't usually offer that opportunity. Even under NY's self-defense law, the procedure is to shoot the assailant first, in order to stop the attack, and argue in court later.
In jurisdictions that refuse to issue gun licenses to citizens, the procedure is to be raped, beaten, or killed first.
Bloomberg is usually accompanied by armed guards, so he is unlikely to have any need to shoot.

Jul. 15 2013 10:29 AM
indythnker from NYC

I find it REPREHENSIBLE how the media including Brian, continues to PORTRAY this incident as if Trayvon Martin were this young, innocent BOY intentionally HUNTED down by Zimmerman. Yes, Zimmerman did shoot and kill Martin. But isn't it also likely that had Martin NOT confronted Zimmerman, especially in a VIOLENT manner, we would not be here today? I'm not DEFENDING or EXCUSING Zimmerman's actions, but where's the BALANCE, Brian/fellow listeners?!

Jul. 15 2013 10:28 AM
Christine from Westchester

I get angry when I hear politicians making statements about the trial when they were clearly not there to hear the evidence. Second guessing juries is bad form. As political "leaders" they should respect the verdicts. Bad form. It's all polticial grand standing.

Jul. 15 2013 10:22 AM
Joe from nearby

There once was a defendant named Zim,

Who killed an innocent kid on a whim.

"Not guilty,' he'd plead,

And the jury agreed,

'Cuz in the end they were just like him.

Jul. 15 2013 10:22 AM
Robert from NYC

OK I decided to remain silent on this trial but I can't let go by what I just heart, that we have the best judicial system in the world. No we don't plain and simple. I'm tired of those Americans who say "we have the best" thises and thats in the world without any self-reflection on what has changed over the past 60+ year in this counrry regarding social, cultural and political institutions and philosophies. Americans love to live in the past on the glory of the documents that, e.g., The Constitution/Bill of Rights, Delaration of Independence inter alia that define where we should aim and how we should guide our government but never seem to live up to. We failed and continue to fail yet "we are the best"! We're so provincial and know nothing of other countries/cultures/societies and yet we know that what we have is better than what they have!! LOL

Jul. 15 2013 10:20 AM

Someone should explain:

1. Why Trayvon did not use the 4 minute time, before the confrontation, to go home, which was about one minute away from the head of the T?

2. Why Trayvon's body, except for abrasions on two knuckles and of course the gunshot wound, was unmarked whereas Zimmerman's body (head) had several markings indicating a beating?

3. Why Zimmerman does not deserve credit for not drawing his weapon after one, two, three, etc blows to the head but only after six or several more and only after, he said, Travon went for the gun?
4. Why Brian doesn't attempt to answer or even mention any of the above?

Jul. 15 2013 10:19 AM
John Galt from Brooklyn

brian: you have no credibility left when you refer to trayvon as an innocent kid. the evidence shows that trayvon was the aggressor. the credible evidence showed that trayvon was on top, zimmerman on the bottom, and zimmerman reasonably feared for his life.

zimmerman never should have been prosecuted. i'm a former prosecutor in brooklyn, and when you do cases the same way a thousand times, and then you do things very, very differently, there's usually a political reason. for the prosecutors to interview a key witness for the first time sitting next to the mother of the deceased is so incredibly stupid that it is almost beyond words. so why did they do it this way? politics? same for the playing of the 911 tape to a large group of potential witnesses. incredibly stupid--and obviously so.

Jul. 15 2013 10:19 AM
John Galt from Brooklyn

brain: this is mob rule. George Zimmerman did nothing wrong, and ben jealous is making comments that are incredibly ignorant and wrong. jealous suggested on NPR yesterday that Zimmerman was wrong to get out of his car with a loaded gun--wrong--he had a carry permit, and thus every right to carry a weapon, and that zimmerman chose to buy a gun w no safety--a Glock--as though there was something wrong or suspect about buying a Glock. a Glock has no manual safety, but that's simply part of the design, not a flaw.

Jul. 15 2013 10:12 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The pro-choice abortion law passed in Ireland, not good for that country.

The HHS mandate goes in to effect August 1st, and there is no exemption for faith organizations, though they offered suggestions and responses to the law.

The Catholic Hospital Assocation, the largest non-profit hospital association in the U.S., again strayed from Church teaching by again approving the HHS mandate 'accommodation'.

Jul. 15 2013 05:46 AM

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