EDITORIAL: Examining Zimmerman, race and criminal justice

Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 10:56 AM.

The not-guilty verdict for a 29-year-old Hispanic who fatally shot a 17-year-old black high school student has inspired a national discussion.

Broadcast and cable news channels have aired town halls and discussion panels on the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman verdict and equality, or lack thereof, in criminal justice.

Our Facebook fans contributed to a lengthy — and not always civil — discussion on the Zimmerman verdict, equality and justice.

Saturday, Okaloosa County’s NAACP branch, Blacks in Government, the Okaloosa County Democratic Black Caucus and community leaders presented “We Are Trayvon Martin,” a town hall at Mt. Zion AME Church in Crestview. Discussion focused on the Zimmerman verdict, equality and justice.

These topics saturate most of the post-trial discussion, which includes a flurry of Facebook friends’ shared Trayvon Martin memorial posts and retweets of celebrities’ calls for justice for Trayvon.

A 17-year-old’s death is a tragedy, and the outcome could have changed if Martin or Zimmerman acted differently on Feb. 26, 2012, but let’s face the fact: A six-member jury of Zimmerman’s peers found him not guilty of second-degree murder based on insufficient evidence.

Sometimes, the topic of race and criminal justice is a fair discussion point; for instance, the likelihood of a male serving time in a state or federal prison is about 4 percent, white; 28 percent, black and 16 percent, Hispanic, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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