Shocking Anderson Cooper 360 interview shines a light on what was going through the minds of the George Zimmerman jury and how they came to their now controversial decision as well as highlighting an ugly truth about race relations in this country proving they were indeed a part of the Zimmerman verdict, ultimately acquitting him in the fatal shooting death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, evidenced by aforementioned juror’s comments on everything from witness testimony to key elements of prosecution’s case, to brutal, almost heartless, assertions about Trayvon Martin himself. And that role, you ask, ignorance, complete, utter and astounding ignorance as to how other cultures live in this country, no matter what generation they are from their immigrant roots, no matter how hard they try to assimilate; complete, utter and profound ignorance about how people of other ethnicities, races, creeds, backgrounds and nationalities are viewed by the white, middle, upper middle class, well to do, suburban influence majority who still think they rule America and, for the most part, do. Her comments outraging Trayvon Martin supporters, opponents of the stand your ground laws nationwide they believe directly facilitated not only the death of one more young, black teen, but lead to the not guilty verdict some are having so much trouble accepting; comments, revelations and circumstances that leave those charged with breaking down the case for the media, the public along with civil rights activists wondering just how B-37 came to be on that jury in the first place.
Significant points include her analysis of Rachel Jeantel whom she characterized as probably feeling inadequate due to her education and communication skills, described her as not wanting to be there, found her testimony to be “true to their life experience and how they were living,” tone clearly implying judgment that that was somehow a lesser life, but found her testimony still not credible. Vs. George Zimmerman whose Sean Hannity interview was played in court during which he stated he had no idea what stand your ground was, at one point calling it god’s will that he shot Trayvon Martin juxtaposed alongside a college professor who taught a criminal justice class the former attended, receiving an A, where he explained they spoke extensively on that exact topic, grade indicating Zimmerman absorbed the material; his character, his testimony entered by proxy, if you will, via interviews, reenactments, 911 tapes exc., remains unimpeachable, at least in the eyes of juror B-37. Ironically not based on the potential fact Ms. Jeantel perjured herself while on the stand, on conflicting statements given to police and investigators at different times pointed out by experts giving their critique as the trial progressed, instead showcasing her insulated, white, suburban, likely blond, ignorance claiming Jeantel used numerous phrases she didn’t understand, i.e. a combination of black vernacular and teen slang. Yet she also seems confused about the purpose of a witness; they come to court to tell what they saw, heard, knew about the case in question. It’s not a job interview, audition for a public relations, communications or acting position at a fortune 500 company, on a hit TV program; they should not be judged on their use of vernacular, their wardrobe that is not typical, casual, in this case, women’s business attire a-la a pant suite, vs. what Ms. Jeantel had in her possession appropriate for court. It raises serious questions about who might have thought this was an episode of Law and Order/ CSI, an accusation originally leveled by trial experts on the prosecution related to their style in trying the Zimmerman case; however, statements indicate juror B-37 thought witnesses should come to court behaving that way, found a white witness, seen in a shirt and tie, more articulate to be more credible. All sending a bad message you have to look, dress, act white to function in America or worse, be taken seriously by the justice system; sadly it causes onlookers to wonder too if “Mamma June” from the TLC series Here Comes Honey Boo-boo had been the person testifying rather than Rachel Jeantel would it have created a different perception because we understand stereotypically southern vernacular better than we do black vernacular?
Next our vocal juror called the skittles and iced tea held up in court for everyone to see ridiculous compared to the concrete block brought in by the defense to represent the curb George Zimmerman alleges his head was repeatedly slammed into, because this case wasn’t about skittles and ice tea. Oh but it was, and resonates so far from ridiculous when you consider that’s what this young man was doing, walking back from the convenience store with presented for visual effect items, when confronted by Mr. Zimmerman who had already identified him as a threat, as suspicious, as someone who didn’t belong even though his dad’s home was yards away. So far from ridiculous when taking into account the surveillance tape of Trayvon Martin, trademark hoodie up, adolescent looking like a man, simply paying for his items in the store and going on his way, sending up no red flags to the store clerk, causing no fear or apprehension for that person who has every reason to fear examining the statistics of how many times a business like theirs is robbed daily. So far from ridiculous when we recognize how mundane such an activity is, when it dawns on all of us we take it for granted we can do so in peace, yet Trayvon Martin could not, for a reason even the defendant was unable to clearly define, when there is a dead kid, whose only crime was walking home from the store at roughly 7:00 PM, not midnight, 1:00 Am, wee hours of the morning when so called hoodlums usually operate. Though said tape was never revealed in court, all the jurors knew the circumstances of the case, where Trayvon was coming from when he found himself encountering the man later known as George Zimmerman. Analysts commenting on trial details have a point in contrasting his treatment by the clerk vs. George Zimmerman particularly when you factor in the latter is neighborhood watch, and more than that, neighborhood watch captain, yet instead of introducing himself as such, asking if he could assist, ensuring a young man, new to the neighborhood, got home, he proceeded to follow, accost and interrogate, to give off the reasonable perception he is a threat through the eyes of Trayvon Martin then wonders why he’s in a fight, why a young man would have reasonable cause to defend himself, and after the gun goes off, after the fatal shot is fired he claims self-defense.
Bringing us to juror B-37’s ability to only sympathize with George Zimmerman, several times during the discussion referred to him by only his first name, like you would a friend or acquaintance from work; not once extending the same courtesy, intimacy to Trayvon Martin, despite being a mother herself. Who readily believed George Zimmerman was “trying to do good but just went too far,” readily believed in the 3-4 minutes leading up to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman did fear for his life, can see no other scenario where Trayvon Martin is not a threat. But cannot put herself into the shoes of Trayvon Martin that he might have been, he was afraid of this “creepy ass cracker,” creepy white person, trying to exert some adult, class or socio-status authority over him, following him around first in a car, then on foot. Who may have hit Zimmerman, bloodied/broken his nose because he was afraid, if not for his life then his immediate personal safety, pounded his head into the concrete because there was a scuffle and he felt forced to defend himself, a right she believed George Zimmerman had, but again, not Trayvon Martin, failed to see his humanity, his rights in all this as a young man simply walking home. In fact B-37 as she asked to remain anonymous, known only by the juror number she was assigned, believes this 17 year old in possession of skittles, iced tea, a cellphone, no hint of a weapon, not so much as a pocket knife, played a huge role in his own death, because he didn’t have to confront Zimmerman, “he could have walked away, did not have to come back, did not have to be in a fight,” repeatedly, completely and solely buying into the defenses’ case, describing Martin as the aggressor. But what if they were wrong, what if he didn’t throw the first punch? Never mind the prosecution’s theory as to what happened, as to why he doubled back, however late it was presented, involved Trayvon Martin realizing his parents weren’t home and not wanting to lead a strange person back to his house and his little sister. One would think said information being a major portion of the prosecutions closing argument meant keeping it in the forefront of jurors’ minds as they deliberated, and coupling that with her clear connection to Zimmerman’s desire to defend his neighborhood as well as being a woman, a parent she too should be able to connect with the potential fear of Trayvon Martin walking home in the dark, being followed by a stranger.
Taken together with the parts of the prosecution’s case that do stand out despite the sometimes critiqued as poorly organized presentation, possible missed opportunities to present more cohesive pictures of what happened, evidence not put forth that should have been, that would have solidified why Mr. Zimmerman should be found guilty of either second degree murder or manslaughter, there are enough elements of common sense to prove their case, to prove beyond that all important reasonable doubt events could have happened differently, could have happened any other way than the defense claimed that night; the verdict outcome thus proving race was a factor no matter how much madam B-37 says it wasn’t. Whether those factors center around a lack of knowledge regarding other cultures, people who live differently than the six jurors set to decide the fate of George Zimmerman or an active, tangible prejudice against black, brown people the result is the same, dismissal of key pieces of the puzzle detailing why they were all in a court room, why there is a dead 17 year old seeking justice, whatever that looks like. Example, Rachel Jeantel for all her perceived combativeness on the witness stand, for all her use of vernacular and slang was able to put the listening audience, the jurors into the possible mindset of Trayvon Martin mentioning someone following him, anxious about someone following him, hearing, according to testimony, Trayvon at some point say get off, get off, making it clear that if he thought he was going to be in a fight, let alone start one, he would have stopped talking on the phone, hung it up, logically to focus on his surroundings, the impending damage to his person; telling then that he remained on the phone speaking with Jenteal some considerable time after that. Experts, analyzing the trial for news, public consumption and comprehension, hit on several idiosyncrasies pertaining to the defense’s argument; case in point, if it was George Zimmerman screaming for help during the infamous 911 tape, why did the screaming stop immediately after the gun shot? The controversial dummy demonstration did show that if Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman, as he claimed, and the gun was where he indicated in the walkthrough filmed by police, then Martin’s legs would have A- obscured the gun from sight and B- made it impossible for Martin to have grabbed for it; lastly, nor could Zimmerman have reached it to shoot Martin, catching him in another lie. Because Zimmerman’s account in police interviews, in the walkthrough sounds complete, concise, does not contain phrases like, this happened, then that happened, all the sudden I don’t know, he was on top of me, I was on top of him, then next thing I know X transpired, carries no real uncertainties consistent with typical testimony, typical emotions displayed by someone who killed another person because they feared for their life, felt they had to. Leaving the only logical way his alleged assailant, Martin, saw the gun, made a grab for it, is for him to have been the one on the bottom and, if he was on the bottom, Zimmerman didn’t have to shoot him. Feeding right into expert scrutiny of his account where he says he was able to remove Martin’s hand from his mouth and nose and his other hand from another part of the altercation, leading to the reasonable question; if he had both hands free, was his only choice to reach for his gun?
That’s what seems to be missing from this case any questioning on the part of the deliberating jury as to the theories being put before them, any application of common sense, any use of critical thinking, analytical skills exerted on witness testimony, defense or persecution’s views on what happened that night while they took those tools vigorously to the law ultimately finding, according to their understanding of it, they didn’t have enough to convict. But what person do you know, does anyone know whose going to start a fight with a phone in their hand, if Trayvon Martin indeed did get mad and attack George Zimmerman, as juror B- 37 believes things evolved; most of the time when we do get recorded cellphone calls of a fight it’s because the phone was dropped by a surprised person and left on during said fight. Remember B-37 didn’t call Rachel Jeantel a liar only seemed to think she was too ill-educated to be credible, too poor a communicator to be credible; therefore if she lied, how is it she came up with something so plausible? Additionally, if you’ve just shot someone, wouldn’t you continue to scream something; if not help, then things like call 911, I just shot him, he wouldn’t stop bagging my head, oh my god, he’s dead, something? Further, if it was George Zimmerman on the bottom, screaming for help, wouldn’t their be a final vocalization of some sort as Trayvon went limp, stopped hurting him, as he realized it was over. Numb, detached shock can account for the former but not the immediate silence after the shot was fired. Relatedly Zimmerman’s calls to non-emergency dispatch, part of which were played in court, lend credence to him as a racist, as, at minimum, a person with bias towards individuals he views as thugs, as fucking punks, “they always get away;” those were his exact words describing Trayvon Martin to 911, to police that night, proving the allegation wasn’t created in a vacuum. Whether that translates into wanna be cop, vigilante, who knows, but it does translate into prejudice of some kind, prejudice that lead to a dead human being. Here again it goes to the style of how the prosecution tired their case; they expected jurors to have basic analytical skills, to employ their common sense. It is not filling in the gaps, making undo extrapolations, things jurors were warned against in closing arguments and jury instruction, to think, to run through it as a group and decide is this probable and likely what happened that night, or to run counter scenarios saying could it have happened this way instead. Unfortunately none of that appears to have happened especially concerning juror B-37, for whom it’s like the prosecution didn’t even put on a case only the defense, I don’t understand it so I’ll discard it, I can’t relate to it so I’m under no obligation to consider it, forget believe it.
B-37’s problematic divulgence of the inner workings of the jury don’t end there, asserting they didn’t know much about Trayvon Martin other than his age, he was a junior in high school, nothing about who he was as a young man, a person, implying she got a better sense of Mr. Zimmerman; though that seems like a cop out because equally to be considered is what you didn’t hear about Trayvon Martin, zero criminal record, though the public knew of his school suspension and possible use of pot the jury did not, this was not a kid failing school, possessing a rap sheet, associated with a gag, aspiring to be a gang member. Similarly it’s also what you don’t hear about Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries; regardless of the blown up, very large picture depicting his bloody, swollen, nose, the blood streaks on the back of his head, the knots, suspected swelling, potential for brain injury, no matter what we can see, fact remains he did not seek medical attention after the incident, has not been under the care of a medical professional, specialist, say a neurologist since that night in February 2012. He did not spend weeks in the hospital, never mind in a coma, did not undergo intensive therapy learning how to walk, talk, think again, function again; there was not testimony given about therapy to deal with permanent cognitive or other impairment inflicted on Mr. Zimmerman. Contrastingly Mr. Zimmerman looked whole and healthy in court, medical testimony was given as to the triviality of his injuries, yet Trayvon Martin is dead. Our outspoken juror even freely admits she wanted to find Zimmerman guilty of not using his senses, of using poor judgment but that’s not against the law; except it is when a kid is dead because someone brought a gun to a fist fight. It adds up to manslaughter particularly when you factor in who has the greater responsibility both in terms of age, who was expected to be the more mature person, who should have been more worldly wise, who should exercised more caution, the guy with the gun or the young man with skittles, iced tea and a cellphone, not a weapon, not so much as a pocket knife; the guy who purported himself as neighborhood watch, but never said so, or the kid walking to his dad’s house?
To prevent any more Trayvon Martin’s not only does public perception have to change, not only do we need to be far more careful about the propriety of voir dire, jury selection to ensure people like juror B-37, who proved herself too ill-informed about the situation, about her role as a juror to fulfill it correctly, don’t find themselves on a jury. Someone who should have been excluded from the beginning owing to her husband being an attorney, the possibility she had more information about the case than even she realized, who was clearly biased in her own rite, referring to the protests after Trayvon Martin’s death as riots, who agreed to a book deal one day after the verdict was announced causing civil rights advocates to wonder when the deal was reached, while she was still serving on that jury, still under orders not to look at, read, watch anything about the case, divulge anything about it perhaps, who could have possessed her own ulterior motives for being there. B-37 whom 4 other jurors have denounced saying her opinions are her own, not our collective views, tone reveling they are angry at her for something she said, some potential misrepresentation of what they, as a group, think. This is one of the people let decide whether a dead teen gets justice? Facts of particular importance considering when they first deliberated the jury was split 3 thinking not guilty, 3 others wanting to convict him on one of the two charges. Concurrently stand your ground has to be abolished as it now exists; if this is the law, this is the outcome, then the law needs to change. If shooting an unarmed person, male, female, young, old, black, white, brown, yellow, green or purple walking in your neighborhood constitutes self-defense, then the law needs to change. And here’s how it needs to change, no not in scrapping the whole thing, not in causing people to no longer be good Samaritans and stop crime in progress, help someone in distress, not in suddenly expecting people only defend their homes, somehow outrun a bullet, part of why stand your ground was adopted in the places it has been, but by reinstating a key piece of the original self-defense statutes. Statutes that say self-defense can only be applied if A- there was no chance to flee imminent bodily harm and/or B- you did not knowingly put yourself in a dangerous situation for no apparent reason. The latter needing to be reinstituted because, had it been so, Zimmerman’s self-defense claim would have been obliterated when he followed Trayvon Martin in his car, on foot, when he ignored the 911 operator stating we don’t need you to follow him, in confronting Trayvon Martin when he had no authority to do so, regardless of who threw the first punch. And, stand your ground, though not used as a defense strategy, was part of the jury instructions, part of the legality they had to consider, part of the decision making that did not allow them to convict on either second degree murder or manslaughter, at least according to juror B-37.
At the end of the day Trayvon Martin will never graduate high school, will never go to college, will never receive a diploma, degree, trade certificate, he’s never going to realize his dream in terms of a career. He’s never going to get married, be a father himself, we don’t even know if he had the opportunity to kiss a girl, have his first girlfriend. Likewise we, the world don’t know the name Trayvon Martin because he discovered the cure for a rare cancer; we don’t know the name Trayvon Martin because he became a revolutionary school teacher, attorney, because he became a human rights activist, a tireless social worker making a difference in the lives of kids or people with disabilities. We don’t know the name Trayvon Martin because he became a famous actor, inspiring athlete. We know the name Trayvon Martin because he lost his life in a tragic episode of violence; no, not in a gag drive by, in the crossfire of a gang turf war, not as a result of bad life choices in joining one, not because of drugs, criminal behavior, or trying to avoid same. We know the name Trayvon Martin because he is dead, because his is a life needlessly cut short, a life that matters no longer here, not because he was a small child who got ahold of a gun, played with it and it went off, not because he and his teenage friends found a gun, decided to do something impulsive reckless, stupid and he was the one fatally wounded, not because he was burglarizing someone’s home, not because he was randomly beating up someone in the street, being physical with a girlfriend. We know the name Trayvon Martin because he was mistaken for a criminal walking home with items found at a convince store, shot by a man biased against punks, thugs, anyone fitting that description in his head, who cost a 17 year old his life, yet walks free, gets to add to life experiences that already far outweigh those of Trayvon Martin.