There’s a weird mental bargain I’ve made as a fan of classic cinema: I’m a black female actor who longs
ANDERSON COOPER: Even though it’s he who had gotten out of the car, followed Trayvon Martin, that didn’t matter in the deliberations. What mattered was those final seconds, minutes, when there was an altercation, and whether or not in your mind the most important thing was whether or not George Zimmerman felt his life was in danger?
JUROR B-37: That’s how we read the law. That’s how we got to the point of everybody being not guilty.
COOPER: So that was the belief of the jury, that you had to zero in on those final minutes/seconds, about the threat that George Zimmerman believed he faced?
JUROR B-37: That’s exactly what had happened.
COOPER: So whether it was George Zimmerman getting out of the vehicle, whether he was right to get out of the vehicle, whether he was a wannabe cop, whether he was overeager, none of that in the final analysis, mattered. What mattered was those seconds before the shot went off, did George Zimmerman fear for his life?
JUROR B-37: Exactly. That’s exactly what happened.
No exchange more perfectly encapsulates the reality behind the verdict in the Zimmerman trial than this one, which took place yesterday between Anderson Cooper and the woman known only as “Juror B-37” on Anderson Cooper 360. (For a transcript of the interview, click here.) To know in hindsight that the scope of the jury’s deliberations were so myopically focused on Zimmerman’s reactions in those last few moments of the altercation; to know that the jury completely(deliberately?) ignored all of the pathology that brought him to that point; to know that that view was so easily foisted upon them by a pandering, sycophantic defense team; to know these things is to know the deepest outrage. Not at Juror B37 herself (although her insistent referring to Zimmerman as “George” in sad, dulcet tones did truly make my skin crawl), but at a legal system that allows this level of ignorance to serve in the name of “justice”. The bitter truth is that this verdict is neither an aberration, nor is it exceptionally unjust when viewed from the point of design. It is a systemic byproduct of our legal framework attempting to expand to accommodate those it was never designed to fit.
So the question then becomes: do we continue to work within the existing system, or do we work to dismantle it? Better yet, when do we stop asking this question rhetorically?