Zimmerman Verdict Offers Lessons On Both Sides Of The Issue

There doesn’t seem to be any letup to the debate on the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman. As the Town-Crier went to press this week, the controversy continued with statements from one of the six jurors in the case. Whether you’re outraged or pleased with the verdict, it’s important not to let passion lead to threats of violence. Instead, it’s important to keep an open dialogue of the issues surrounding the case, and from this tragedy take away a lesson of understanding.

Zimmerman, 29, was found not guilty of murder last Saturday in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on a rainy night in February 2012 in the central Florida town of Sanford, near Orlando. Martin, who was not armed, was inside the confines of a gated community. He aroused the suspicion of Zimmerman, an armed neighborhood watch volunteer. That the two had a confrontation is certain. What exactly happened during and after the confrontation is anything but clear, despite nearly three weeks of testimony in court.

Getting and keeping a dialogue open about many factors surrounding the case — racial profiling, gun laws, Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law — is a good idea. And we’re happy to see that the protests, at least thus far, have remained non-violent.

But Zimmerman has remained in hiding since the verdict was announced, largely because of threats against his life. It is ironic that Zimmerman, who was accused of following Martin that November night, will probably have to look over his own shoulder for the rest of his life. His family has also gotten death threats. When he does resurface, his every move will be chronicled.

Whether or not you believe justice was served, it is an issue best left in the hands of judicial system — not to individual vigilantes. Zimmerman proved that vigilante justice can go awry, often ending in tragedy. Hopefully the people who took to the streets this weekend in protest will continue to fight for their cause not with fists or guns, but instead by trying to enact change through voting and contacting their lawmakers.

If any silver lining could be born out of such tragedy, it would be that this case serves as a cautionary tale not to judge others so quickly. Whether you believe racial profiling was at the heart of this case, it’s clear that Martin’s look aroused Zimmerman’s suspicion. We hope that everyone will take a moment before the next time they judge someone based on appearance alone.