A Florida jury has reached its decision in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but, for better or worse, this case will continue to reverberate across the nation.
After hearing what was described as “wildly conflicting” testimony about the events that led to Martin’s death, a jury of six women decided it didn’t have enough evidence to convict defendant George Zimmerman of any wrongdoing. In addition to the obvious loss of 17-year-old Trayvon, the notoriety of this trial will have a long-lasting impact on the Martin family. Although he now is free, Zimmerman also will draw continued focus and scrutiny.
It seems likely that many cases similar to the one in Florida are handled by local authorities with little national attention. This case gained notoriety not only because it involved a black teen and a Hispanic man, but because it attracted the attention of groups and individuals who sought to use it to make a broader point about racism in America. That attention was further heightened by national media outlets, including several television networks that chose to offer gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Zimmerman trial.
Martin’s death was a tragedy, perhaps a tragedy that signals a broader problem of racial bias in the nation’s law enforcement system. Unfortunately, conflicting testimony and evidence in this trial makes it difficult to draw broad conclusions.
Supporters of Zimmerman and the Martin family will continue to hold differing views about the verdict, but the jury that weighed the conflicting evidence has reached a decision. It may not be the final word on this tragic case, but the nation should accept the verdict and move forward.