July 18, 2013

WILLIAMS: Wrapped up in the Zimmerman verdict


---- — I was conva-lescing from surgery back during the O.J. trial. I got bored with reading, so I got caught up in it. I knew all the characters like they were my next-door neighbors. I was devastated when O.J. was acquitted, being totally convinced of his guilt.

I have some friends who are trial buffs. Not me though — not until now, not until the George Zimmerman trial.

Just as with most issues these days, America is split and feelings are expressed in the most militant, even vicious terms. Actually, make that racist terms. Both sets of attorneys have tiptoed around the race issue but it is there, like the elephant in the room. The judge forbade prosecutors from making the claim that Trayvon was profiled for being African-American. But we all know why people are profiled, don’t we?

The crux of the trial focused on the final incident during which Trayvon was killed. It’s impossible to know exactly what happened during those few minutes but George Zimmerman holds all the cards in pitching it his way. Essentially, he testified for himself in a recorded police interview, in a videotaped reenactment, in an interview with Sean Hannity. Meanwhile, of course, Trayvon couldn’t tell us his side of the story because he was dead.

Anyway, the start of the encounter was the determining factor. There was Trayvon, who’d just bought tea and candy at a convenience store, walking home while talking to his friend on the phone, doing nothing wrong, at a place he had a perfect right to be.

From his call to dispatch, it is clear that Zimmerman did profile him but he couldn’t say that. When asked what caused him to be suspicious, he said it was raining and Trayvon wasn’t hurrying. Really?

My pro-Zimmerman friends have made the point that it is not illegal to follow someone in Florida. Perhaps not, but tell me how you would feel if you were walking home in the dark and a stranger began following you. Zimmerman never said he identified himself to Trayvon. If a stranger asked you, “what are you doing here” in your own neighborhood, would you assume he was a good guy and answer politely or would you say, “who are you”?

Zimmerman said he was parked in his car when Martin circled it. He was terrified, he said. But, then, lo and behold, this terrified person gets out of his car and goes strolling down a dark sidewalk looking for an address. (Remember, he was the Neighborhood Watch guy and there were exactly three streets in this complex).

Somebody clearly attacked somebody but we don’t really know who. We only have George Zimmerman’s self-serving word for it.

Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that he knew nothing about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law but his instructor testified that they’d gone over that law thoroughly in class so George knew all the right answers to give when he was interviewed.

Someone tried to stand their ground. I just don’t think it was George Zimmerman. He was the instigator, not the victim.

Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at