The jury, no doubt aware of the extraordinary interest of the American public in the case, is likely to have acquitted him on the strong right, based in law, of Americans who fear for their lives to use deadly force to defend themselves – and Americans, of course, are allowed to carry arms. Whether he over-reacted, whether Travyon Martin attacked and threatened him as is claimed, whether racism was involved, we do not know, but the reaction to the trial and its outcome reflects the racist divide that splits the US; I am reminded of the trial of Stephen Lawrence where racism both in his death and its investigation played a major part, but while it shocked many in the UK it did not result in mass civil protest such as is under way in America, perhaps because, in 1993, too few people really cared about the death of a black teenager. Now they do.
Much of the negative reaction to the Zimmerman acquittal is based on subjective perception and judgment rather than a rational understanding of the implications of the “Stand your ground” laws which permit armed self-defence, and prejudice on both sides has been apparent from the beginning. It is understandable that people will have opinions and strong feelings in a case such as this, but there is the danger that the decision of the court will be disbelieved in favour of a witch hunt: however much we may disagree with it, the law of a land must be respected, always, and if it is wrong then it needs to be changed.
I feel sad, today, for George Zimmerman for whom this ordeal will continue and whose life will never return to what it was, and for the many people who loved Travyon Martin. There are no winners here.