Zimmerman Verdict Was Outrageous—and Correct

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Sadly, our system worked 'as intended'

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 15, 2013 9:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – There are two unavoidable truths about the George Zimmerman trial: First, based on the state's laws and the prosecutors' case, Zimmerman should not have been convicted of anything. And second, "the killing of Trayvon Martin is a profound injustice," writes Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic. Florida's self-defense laws explicitly state that even if you start a fight, you can use deadly force to end it if you "reasonably believe" you're in danger of "great bodily harm," and the jury's instructions made this abundantly clear.

"The jury's performance may be the least disturbing aspect of this entire affair," Coates argues. "The injustice was authored by a country which has taken as its policy, for [the] lionshare of its history, to erect a pariah class." It's the end result of 200 years of codified, systemic racism. "This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. … You live in a country that ensures that Trayvon Martin will happen," and indeed, has happened again. Fellow Atlantic writer Andrew Cohen has come to much the same conclusion, writing that the case "is above all a blunt reminder of the limitations of our justice system." Our trials examine only "tiny slivers of the truth."

This combo image made from file photos shows Trayvon Martin, left, and George Zimmerman.   (AP Photos, File)
In this image from video, George Zimmerman smiles after a not guilty verdict was handed down in his trial at the Seminole County Courthouse, July 14, 2013, in Sanford, Fla.   (AP Photo/TV Pool)
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It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American
justice itself. - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Our sense of self is incredible. We believe ourselves to have inherited all of Jefferson's love of freedom, but none of his affection for white supremacy. - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Trials like the one we've all just witnessed can never act as moral surrogates to resolve the national debates they trigger. They provide no closure, not to the families or anyone else - Andrew Cohen

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