Attorney Washington: Zimmerman Verdict Should Inspire Less Talking, More Action
by Attorney Daryl K. Washington
As I watched the verdict being read last evening the only sound I could hear is Trayvon’s voice screaming for help. Trayvon was telling us that it is time for us to stop complaining and instead make a change so that we could save our young boys and girls. As a race, it’s time for us to become proactive instead of always reacting to wrongdoings. I was telling a good friend of mine that sometimes a loss is actually a win if the loss is used to bring about serious change. What if a guilty verdict was handed down on last night? Would we have celebrated and thought all was okay or would we have continued our fight towards justice? There is a side of me that feels like many would have thought all was okay like many did after Barack Obama was elected as this country’s first black President.
The Trayvon Martin incident has galvanized millions of people of all races and will be the spark that we need to make black people more proactive. Because of the Trayvon Martin case, millions of black people are now more familiar with the legal process and have a better understanding of how it works. Because of the Trayvon Martin case, millions of black people now better understand the significance of serving on a jury and will now be more hesitant to walk away from their obligation to serve because of Trayvon’s screams for help. Because of Trayvon Martin, there are now thousands of young black boys and girls desiring to go to law school the same way Johnnie Cochran and the OJ Simpson case inspired me to attend law school. WE NEED MORE BLACK CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEYS. Because of Trayvon Martin, we now understand that we must vote during the midterms elections so that we can elect Congressmen and women who will understand and respond to the desires and the needs of black people. Because of the Trayvon Martin case we now know that two parents who are no longer together can work together in the best interest of their kids. Because of the Trayvon Martin case there are people of all races who now understand that legal and racial injustices do not only take place in what some people consider the hood but it also take place in gated communities in Sanford, Florida, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and other places throughout the United States.
Just recently the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that will now make it tougher for black people and other minorities to vote. I’ve volunteered with Election Protection for the last 12 years through the efforts of the National Bar Association and its partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. I know first-hand about the voting suppression tactics. Because of the Trayvon Martin case it will now be easier to get the attention of millions of individuals so that we are able to educate everyone about what is now needed in order to vote instead of just complaining about the decision and not being adequately prepared when the time to vote comes. We must become proactive.
I, like millions of others, am stunned by the ruling in the Trayvon Martin case. I’m disappointed because millions of young boys will now fear walking to the store to buy a can of Arizona tea or a pack of skittles without losing their lives. However, my four hours of complaining is now over and now it’s time to continue our journey towards justice. As I write this article I’m listening to Tremaine Hawkins sing “Changed.” I’m inspired to ask millions of people, including our celebrities, will we complain or will we bring about a change? I want everyone to know that although I hate the verdict that was handed down last night, I believe the six jurors, despite their preconceived notions, worked hard to convict George Zimmerman and simply needed one question answered in regards to the manslaughter instructions but failed to get an answer. I believe had the question been answered Zimmerman may have been convicted of manslaughter. I saw things as an attorney that not many lay people may have seen. The evidence presented made it difficult at times to overcome the burden of proving each element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The Prosecutors did some things we may not agree with but one thing I know, those three attorneys did not want to lose.
Let’s remember that the miscarriage of justice did not take place on July 13, 2013 but on the night of Trayvon’s murder. Zimmerman was treated in a manner that not even superstar football player and millionaire Aaron Hernandez received. Like Zimmerman, Hernandez is not black but the system did not give him any special privileges because his victim was black so we did not have to question the legal system. Zimmerman on the other hand was allowed to go free, brag during an interview with Sean Hannity and he and his wife were able to lie to the court about money they had in their possession because of who his father is. This is why I’m upset and this is why I will ask for change. A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. The opinions expressed in the commentary are those of Daryl K. Washington. You can follow Daryl on twitter at dwashlawfirm or email him at email@example.com.
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