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George Zimmerman, Prosecutorial Abuse, and the Sorry Politics of Race

Politics / US Politics Jul 16, 2013 - 10:52 AM GMT

By: William_Anderson

Politics

As a somewhat casual observer of George Zimmerman’s show trial, I was surprised that it ended with a “not guilty” verdict, given how the politics of race had so infected the entire saga from beginning to the announcement of the jury’s decision. After all, not only was Zimmerman indicted on charges that assumed he had intentionally pursued Trayvon Martin with personal ill will and animosity with his being in that supposed frame of mind when he shot the teenager, but the very President of the United States already had effectively declared Zimmerman guilty of a racially-motivated murder.


There will be no shortfall of commentary on the verdict and the outlandish media coverage (which declared Zimmerman to be a “white Hispanic” in hopes that the racial angle in the case could be most fully exploited), I would like to deal with another perspective with which I am more familiar, that being the prosecutorial abuse that helped drive this case. The politics of race, while front-and-center, did drive the push for criminal charges, but so did electoral politics, and specifically electoral politics that have defined the recent career of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey.

At this point, let me say that even after the trial has ended, I am not sure what happened, but it also was clear that the State of Florida did not meet the legal burden of proof needed for a conviction. That is important to remember, because President Obama, Al Sharpton, and any number of commentators openly are declaring that when there is a high-profile action involving race and a trial, the law should be bypassed and mob rule installed. Make no mistake; Obama, Sharpton, and the New York Times were declaring their belief that the jury should have ignored legal standards of proof in exchange for a verdict that the NYT declared would have been an “emotional catharsis.”

The NYT and most news outlets had refused to note that the gated community where Zimmerman lived had been hit hard with numerous burglaries, thefts, and break-ins in recent months. While the NAACP already has publicly declared Zimmerman a racist because he had made a number of calls before when on neighborhood watch, both blacks and whites who lived there were adamant in their statements about the problems of crime:

One black neighbor of George Zimmerman said the neighborhood’s recent history should be taken into account.

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m black, OK?” the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. “There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”

Understand that this information was easily available to any journalist who was interested in finding out some fact, but in retrospect, most mainstream journalists and pundits had no interest in going outside of their narrow narratives of race. Ironically, those journalists would then champion a prosecutor who indeed had engaged in conduct that raised questions about her fairness in cases involving people of color. In fact, I have not read one mainstream account that ever referred to Corey’s tenuous relations with ethnic minorities; once she secured charges of second-degree murder, she was considered to be heroic in the eyes of the media.

I was familiar with Corey even before Martin was killed and knew about the complaints of prosecutorial abuse that were threatening her career. After I heard that Florida Gov. Rick Scott had appointed Corey as a special prosecutor to investigate the shooting (after police and local prosecutors had elected not to charge Zimmerman), I knew things would end badly. Corey was in the midst of severe criticism for prosecutorial abuse in a case involving a 12-year-old boy named Cristian Fernandez charged as an adult with murder.

Fernandez had pushed his two-year-old brother against a bookshelf, and the child died soon afterward. While punishment clearly was warranted, Corey’s decision to try him as an adult with him facing life in prison was seen as overkill by a number of people involved in Florida’s system of “justice.” Cory had not expected the level of public anger about her heavy-handed decision, and she clearly was looking for a way to save or at least re-charge her career.

Scott’s appointment clearly was a way for her to do it. First, it would re-establish her “get tough with crime” persona and second, it would blunt the wrath that racial minorities already had shown toward her. As one might expect, she pursued what essentially was a sham investigation that had an inevitable outcome, an outcome that had obvious political ramifications.

The lead-up to Corey’s second-degree murder indictment against George Zimmerman came after what was an almost unprecedented campaign of vilification against him that involved what clearly were coordinated efforts by prominent blacks such as Al Sharpton, the U.S. Department of Justice (led by Attorney General Eric Holder), and the news media. As one who was heavily involved in the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case and who had personal contact with a number of journalists who covered the proceedings, I must admit that I was shocked at just what went on.

Early on, the media from CNN to the New York Times to NBC News (and especially its sister network, MSNBC) falsely claimed that the Hispanic Zimmerman was “white,” and that he killed Martin for “racial reasons.” There was no proof, but that didn’t matter as journalists simply declared what they wanted to say.

Perhaps the lowest point of what was a very low standard for media coverage came when NBC News literally spliced together quotes from Zimmerman on a 911 call in order to make it look as though Zimmerman was racially profiling Martin. NBC reported the conversation between Zimmerman and the 911 dispatcher as follows:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

This actually is what transpired during the call:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

The contrast is obvious, as NBC deliberately tried to make the conversation something that it wasn’t for the purpose of painting Zimmerman as a homicidal racist. (The NBC brass first insisted that the network had done no wrong, but later quietly fired some people as even by the abysmal standards to which mainstream journalists adhere this was over the top.)

However, the mainstream journalists hardly were finished completing their self-appointed tasks of trying to railroad Zimmerman to prison. About the time NBC News was busy splicing together Zimmerman’s comments, CNN solemnly broadcast that Zimmerman had called Martin a “f*cking coon.” The left-wing Daily Kos picked it up, as did other news outlets. Two weeks later, CNN finally admitted that he was saying, “f*cking cold,” but not before legal analysts all over the country were declaring that the statement “proved” Zimmerman was targeting and intending to kill black people.

Not to be outdone by its competitors, ABC News declared to its viewers that Zimmerman had “no injuries” from his encounter with Martin. Finally, President Barack Obama himself weighed in, essentially claiming that Zimmerman was a racist murderer who needed to be prosecuted. (He and his attorney general Eric Holder – the same Eric Holder who was in charge of covering up the federal murders at Waco in 1993 – would look into pursuing federal charges against Zimmerman, something the journalists applauded. (Obama made more inflammatory statements at a press conference the afternoon after the announcement of the verdict.)

There was another reason other than sheer dishonesty and the desire to railroad a man into prison that led ABC to cover up the fact that Zimmerman, indeed, had received some injuries during that fateful encounter. It turns out that Corey herself had withheld photographs and other evidence that Martin had injured Zimmerman before gaining the indictment, an action that has enraged the famed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who publicly criticized her. (For her part, Corey called Harvard University and ranted for 40 minutes and threatened to sue the university.)

Why did Corey even file second-degree murder charges when it was clear that the state could not meet that threshold of evidence? My belief is that the mainstream media made it more likely, as journalists of supposedly reputable organizations literally made things up out of whole cloth and then put the lies on the Internet and in the airwaves. The frenzy that the media worked up made it easier for Corey to look like a crusader for justice rather than the dishonest opportunist that she really is.

As I noted at the beginning of this article, I do not know what happened in that encounter, other than Trayvon Martin was shot dead. At some point, Martin and Zimmerman tangled and it looks as though Zimmerman was getting the worst of it, which led to the shooting. What I do know, however, is that Corey’s people did not come close to presenting evidence that matched their rhetoric and the poisonous rhetoric that American politicians and journalists have been spewing.

The trial of George Zimmerman was a show trial, but somewhere along the line, the six female jurors did not adhere to their pre-written script. However, that will not stop those in power and those who supposedly make a living as journalists from making ludicrous claims that Trayvon Martin was the Second Coming of Emmett Till and that Zimmerman was guilty of second-degree murder because Al Sharpton said so. That is the sorry state of current “justice” in the United States and it will only become worse.

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit his blog.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com

    © 2013 Copyright LewRockwell.com - All Rights Reserved
    Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


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