Trayvon Martin vs. Justice in the US

In evaluating Trayvon Martin's shooting death, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes at The Atlantic that two "conflicting truths emerge": The jury was right not to convict George Zimmerman of second-degree murder based on the law, and Trayvon's death was "a profound injustice."

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George Zimmerman in the courtroom after the his not-guilty verdict (Joe Burbank/Pool/Getty Images)

Contending that the jury was right not to convict George Zimmerman of second-degree murder based on the law and that Trayvon Martin's death was a profound injustice, The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that two "conflicting truths emerge" in trying to evaluate Trayvon Martin's shooting death.

In trying to assess the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, two seemingly conflicting truths emerge for me. The first is that based on the case presented by the state, and based on Florida law, George Zimmerman should not have been convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter. The second is that the killing of Trayvon Martin is a profound injustice. In examining the first conclusion, I think it's important to take a very hard look at the qualifications allowed for aggressors by Florida's self-defense statute:

Use of force by aggressor.--The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless: (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

Read Ta-Nehisi Coates' entire piece at The Atlantic.

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