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In his New Year’s address, Central African Republic President Michel Djotodia praised his supporters and blamed the country’s recent bouts of horrific violence on his rivals. Meanwhile, 1 million people remain displaced by the fighting, taking shelter in camps, churches, and mosques.
RIGHT NOW! TRAYVON MARTIN PROTESTORS MOVING DUMPSTERS INTO THE STREETS IN LA TO STOP TRAFFIC.
What we do know is that one night an unarmed teenager with no history of violence walked home from the store after buying some candy. What we know is that a stranger with a gun, expressing an immediate hostility that’s clear from the gunman’s own recorded words, and despite later claims of being “terrified” and admonitions by a police dispatcher not to get out of his car and follow the boy, got out of his car and followed the boy. We know that five minutes later the armed man shot the unarmed boy to death, something the defendant would identify as “God’s plan” on a subsequent television interview. Note that so far we haven’t even had to use the words “African-American” or any of the defendant’s vivid euphemisms. Over a month-long trial this factual landscape remained unchallenged by even the defense attorneys because its geography was beyond challenge, leaving us to consider how deep into the trees a jury must go to miss this forest, and how many thousands of years of ethical development it takes to conclude that with every unfolding second, Zimmerman assumed some growing degree of responsibility for whatever the outcome might be of a situation that he alone created.
By the standards of Tombstone 1881 not to mention the nitwitteries of Florida 2013, the utter absolution of Zimmerman in light of such circumstances can only be a kind of civil atrocity.
Outrage, protests over the George Zimmerman ruling
Largely peaceful protests were sparked across the country Sunday by the news that a Florida jury had ruled Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin Saturday night. Protesters in Los Angeles partially shut down southbound 10 Freeway near Crenshaw for a short time before being dispersed by police.
Even President Obama weighed in, calling for calm and reflection following the decision.
Amid all of the tension and emotion surrounding the trial, the prosecution may have doomed itself from the beginning:
Prosecutors could not prove Zimmerman was driven by “ill will or hatred” — the necessary elements of a murder case — when he got out of his vehicle on a rainy night and went after the teenager.
In the confrontation that followed, they also could not prove Zimmerman struck the first blow. If the teenager turned in fear to attack the stranger who was pursuing him, Zimmerman could claim he acted in self-defense. If the jurors were in doubt as to who struck first, they were obliged to hand down an acquittal.
But the ruling may not be the end of Zimmerman’s days in court, as the Justice Department has confirmed it is still looking into the case.
Read more on the latest developments on Nation Now.
Photos: Joshua Trujillo, Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press, Robyn Beck, Mario Tama / AFP/Getty Images