The defense knew that it would be easier to get an acquittal from a pool of white women because they shared a particular viewpoint. The prism through which they see Trayvon isn’t as a child — like their children — but rather as a black male, who’s a stranger and potentially a threat. It’s the same prism through which Zimmerman saw the child. After the defense put on a white female witness who had been [burglarized] by a black male, I feared this could be the result. It placed the seed of reasonable doubt in minds that, unfortunately, didn’t require much convincing to disbelieve Trayvon.
Another key factor in this case is that Sanford police were essentially hostile witnesses toward the prosecution. That never happens. Normally, police and prosecutors work hand in hand, but since the officers failed miserably at the very beginning of this case, they feared being liable for negligence — or worse — and so had a stake in an acquittal because it would [then] seem they had made the right decision in not arresting Zimmerman.
The Root: Can you tell us how Trayvon’s parents responded to the verdict? Will they bring civil charges now? And what is the likelihood of a federal case?
BC: Obviously they’re heartbroken and deeply disappointed. These are good, hardworking people who never imagined anything like this could happen to their son. But they also have incredible faith. Tracy [Martin] has told me that no matter what happens, nothing could be worse than what occurred on Feb. 26, 2012. He says the injustice of this verdict doesn’t compare to the loss of his baby Tray.
What is most impressive to me, personally, is how dignified they have been throughout this difficult process — and have refused to stop fighting. Sybrina [Fulton] called me after church yesterday and said, “Attorney Crump, I will not allow this verdict to define Trayvon. We will define Trayvon’s legacy.” She then asked me, “What are we going to do next?”
So that is what we’re working on now: The family is considering all potential remedies through civil proceedings, and we will make a decision [about] which route is best. We are also pushing for the Justice Department to bring federal charges against Zimmerman for the violation of Trayvon Martin’s civil rights. We know that new evidence could be presented, and facts support the truth that Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon.
We need people who believe in this case to sign the DOJ petition, continue to organize and get involved in the Trayvon Martin Foundation and go online to trayvonmartinfoundation.org. This Aug. 24, we’re joining Martin Luther King III for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and he is dedicating this journey for justice to Trayvon and all the unknown Trayvons. We’re expecting half a million people to march that day. Let’s make it happen!
NJ: We need people to stay engaged — especially young people. And the great thing about this movement is that it has drawn supporters of every race, ethnicity and age group. Justice for Trayvon isn’t just about the African-American community. Remember, it was a white blogger who first brought attention to this case, before anyone in the national media even knew. That’s the momentum we must continue to get federal charges brought and, prayerfully, a conviction.
Take to social media. Get on Twitter and Facebook. Blog about it. Get your friends involved. We’re disappointed with this decision, but we know in our hearts that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. And it will bend for Trayvon.
Edward Wyckoff Williams is a contributing editor at The Root. He is a columnist and political analyst, appearing on Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, ABC, CBS Washington, Arise America and national syndicated radio. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.