Nationwide protest

The acquittal of George Zimmerman, self-appointed neighborhood watchman, who followed and killed Trayvon Martin inside his own gated community (!) is a blatant example of racism. As has been said repeatedly, if a white 29 year old man had come up to a gated community and gunned down a 17-year old white boy, all hell would have broken loose. But a black boy tracked and killed by a white man, who got injured in the process? That is put down to self-defense. The perpetrator gets off, scot-free.

It’s sobering to watch the two main witnesses for the prosecution, whose testimony broke the case:

Treyvor Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel was on the phone with him during the incident, and should have been the star witness, but when she opened her mouth to speak, she was inept, to put it mildly, and nearly incomprehensible to the court during her 7 hour examination (Language Log discusses race, Ebonese and Jenatel’s use of “creepy-ass cracker”).

Then, medical examiner Dr. Shiping Bao saw the body and could have explained the wounds in clear terms if his English had been better. As it was, he was hard to listen to. Small wonder that the jury obviously switched off. See the summary of this case in the New York Times.

Here are parts of the two testimonies that prove, once again, how essential it is to learn how to speak well before an audience.

Improve your English, folks, or you won’t be able to get done what you want done!

I remember when “Neighborhood Watch” was introduced in my neighborhood on Capitol Hill in 1972. I was almost 10, and my dad was involved. This was certainly not the sort of outcome that his generation envisioned. Back then, people on neighborhood watch didn’t bear arms at all. It was their duty to call the police if they noticed anyone suspicious. In fact, to judge from the guidelines available online, at least in DC that is still valid:

Patrol members should be trained by law enforcement. It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers and they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.

I simply don’t understand why the prosecution didn’t try the defendant on these grounds. Today, it seems that taking law and order into your own hands is being condoned more globally. Is that any way to teach young people that we have a rule of law?

Self-defense is a very strange angle to take with Zimmerman. If a neighbor had pulled a gun out of the kitchen drawer on hearing the fight outside, and had fired as someone came in the door, that might be considered self-defense. But Zimmerman provoking a fight and then shooting the person he provoked? That’s profiling and then hunting down.

These are the phrases you hear the family of the victim say in their attempt to contain their disappointment at the outcome:

  • God will prevail
  • Justice will be served

And this is the chant in the streets:

  • No justice, no peace.

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

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