A Response to the Not Guilty Zimmerman Verdict
Dr. Leonard Lovett
On Saturday evening July 13, 2013 10:00 PM, when the Jury in Sanford, Florida announced the verdict of NOT GUILTY for George Zimmerman in the unfortunate decimation of the life of Trayvon Martin, the time clock of the wheels of justice for these United States of America, land of the free, was turned back fifty-eight years. Please remember we live in a moral universe that demands a verdict. God is not bound by any verdict that has evolved from a court of law. Unfortunately we appear to be trapped in a time warp when we critically look at the criminal justice system in our nation. It was precisely fifty-eight years ago (1955) that a young fifteen year old teen from Chicago went to a small country store in Money, Mississippi with his cousins (Wheeler Parker/Curtis Jones) to buy candy and ended up being lynched for having been accused of flirting with a white female Carolyn Bryant. Emmett Till’s body was bludgeoned and disfigured almost beyond recognition by Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam who were later acquitted by an all white jury who joked during the entire trial. Milam died of cancer in 1980 at age 61. Roy Bryant store was boycotted which later led to bankruptcy, and later divorce. He died of cancer as a broken man at age 63 in 2004. Decades later (2005) the United States Department of Justice re-opened the case and exhumed Till’s remains to further investigate whether anyone else was involved in this heinous lynching. The unfortunate untimely death of Emmett Till was a pivotal turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and the high priority quest for justice for people of color.
Fifty-eight years later on the rainy evening of February 26, 2012, in the city of Sanford, Florida, Trayvon Martin goes to a neighborhood store for candy and is confronted by George Zimmerman a self-appointed neighborhood watchman. A struggles ensues and an unarmed sixteen year old black African-American youth dies in an incident perceived by many as preventable. Yes, Zimmerman is free based on the legal statutes under which he was tried, but he is not innocent. Clearly this is a case about racial profiling. Is law sacred? Not according to St Augustine. It was St. Augustine who succinctly stated that ‘an unjust law is not law at all.’ In other words, “an unjust law would be a law, that takes away ones freedom, or causes harm, or basically just causes chaos, which is the exact opposite of what a law is put in place to do.” When Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested for challenging his right to demonstrate without a permit and asked where did he get the authority to break segregated laws. Relying upon Augustinian reasoning, Dr. King contended that “an unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.” He further argues that “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Likewise, “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.” If the “stand your ground” law is a pre-text for causing chaos and harm or to deprive unarmed teens of the gift of life simply because either party involved in a physical altercation feels threatened and fear for their life, then it is time for a national moratorium against such a law. We respectfully disagree with this verdict. Remember to reset your clock!