Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Blame Jury. It's the System That Failed Trayvon; STATESIDE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Blame Jury. It's the System That Failed Trayvon; STATESIDE

Article excerpt

Byline: With US Editor Christopher Bucktin

IF the deaths of Stephen Lawrence and Mark Duggan shone a light on racial tensions in Britain, the acquittal of George Zimmerman turned the floodlights on in America.

The neighbourhood watch volunteer shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in a shooting many in the States believe was motivated by the colour of the teenager's skin.

It took more than six weeks and a national outcry for Zimmerman to be arrested.

In that time, vital evidence was lost as the Florida police insisted the state''s controversial "stand your ground" law on self-defence stopped them bringing charges.

From the opening of the trial prosecutors stated the case was not about race. Judge Deborah Nelson went as far as to ban the use of the term "racial profiling" in her courtroom.

After five weeks of testimony it took a jury of six women more than 16 hours to decide Zimmerman was innocent.

The verdict sparked protests, some violent, across America. It led to calls for the law to be changed, celebrities in their droves claiming justice had been failed and pop stars refusing to play in Florida anymore.

Unquestionably Zimmerman volunteered for the neighbourhood watch group, arming himself under the Sunshine State's incredibly lax gun laws and going looking for 'suspicious characters'.

When he finally discovered one he called the police but despite being told to hold back, he got out of his car to confront Martin.

After the teenager was challenged a scuffle broke out and in the melee Zimmerman fatally wounded the 17-year-old.

There is an argument that without the element of race, Martin might still be alive.

But the teenager's killing should serve America as a tale of morality involving issues of self defence, racial profiling and above all else gun ownership, three issues they so desperately need to get hold of.

Like it or not the jury got the verdict correct because the case presented to the jury by the prosecution failed on every level to prove murder. …

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