“Justice for Trayvon” Pictures from a demonstration

Last Saturday, I attended a “Justice for Trayvon” rally in Chicago. You can read about it here. Below are some pictures from the demonstration.

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Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

43 thoughts on ““Justice for Trayvon” Pictures from a demonstration”

  1. Is there an argument here anywhere? I think the evidence suggests Trayvon got justice. Missing from your link was any genuine basis for thinking otherwise.

    1. Brett, it is one thing to say that there was a reasonable legal basis for the acquittal of George Zimmerman. It is quite another to assert that this unjustifiably dead teenager “got justice”. Please go think on the distinction.

    2. What if your teenaged daughter were followed as she came home from the store one evening, and after a couple of blocks she pepper sprayed or kneed her follower, and then he shot her dead? I hope you don’t have to see a jury acquit the attacker because he “stood his ground” when she turned to confront him.

  2. The notion that the victim of a non-judicial killing “got justice” reflects the ideology of a vigalante group or a lynch mob.

    As to the argument, it’s not in the photographs, it’s in the essay that Harold wrote and links to.

    1. Yeah, read it. “Missing from your link”, Mark? What link did you think I was referring to?

      He got his justice, in the form of a fair, or even somewhat unfairly biased against the defendant, trial. Which resulted in an acquittal because that was the outcome the evidence supported, no matter how much the people who wanted Zimmerman convicted dislike that fact.

      I would rather Martin had survived that night. The evidence suggests that the surest way for him to have done that was to have not assaulted Zimmerman. Not a happy conclusion for those who want that to be about race relations in America, or Stand Your Ground, or gun control, or anything but the specific facts concerning this specific incident. It is merely the conclusion supported, though not absolutely demanded, by the available evidence.

      IMO, those demanding “justice” are simply refusing to admit that they already got it. They wanted an innocent man railroaded, instead.

      1. Oh, and at your request, I’ll go away for a little while. Even if you were wrong about my remarks. Perhaps tempers will cool, and you’ll stop baying for Zimmerman’s blood.

        1. mr. kleiman, are there comments in this thread or the previous one that have been removed? i am confused by mr. bellmore’s comments above–

          ““Missing from your link”, Mark? What link did you think I was referring to?” and “Oh, and at your request, I’ll go away for a little while. Even if you were wrong about my remarks. Perhaps tempers will cool, and you’ll stop baying for Zimmerman’s blood.”

          i feel like i’m either reading a redacted document or i’m being somehow obtuse and i’ll be willing to admit to obtuseness if i’ve simply missed the comments that are being referenced.

          1. Navarro – Brett’s “missing from your link” response refers to comments upthread where Mark said to Brett: “As to the argument, it’s not in the photographs, it’s in the essay that Harold wrote and links to.” after Brett had previously stated “Is there an argument here anywhere? I think the evidence suggests Trayvon got justice. Missing from your link was any genuine basis for thinking otherwise.” His “Oh, and at your request, I’ll go away for a little while.” response refers to a comment Mark left on another thread: “Brett, either you’re a liar, or you haven’t read anything I’ve written on drug policy. Please go away.” after Brett tried his hand at some standard-fare RBC hyperbole, a rhetorical device apparently reserved to front-pagers.

      2. The evidence suggests that the surest way for him to have done that was to have not assaulted Zimmerman.

        Despite repeated requests you have done nothing to support the claim that the fight began with Martin assaulting Zimmerman. The only evidence you cite is that Zimmerman got beat up. You seem to believe that it is inconceivable that someone can start a fight that they lose badly. At every level, from individuals to countries, of human organization this happens all the time.

        1. I have indeed supported it, you simply reject the reasoning involved. Now, ta for a while.

    2. Once Martin was back on his father’s girlfriend’s property after not having not even been in proximity to Zimmerman or exchanged words with him, but then decided — after talking to his friend Rachel Jeantel about homosexual predators — to go back and assault an armed Zimmerman, the conclusion was nearly foregone.

      The jury heard all of this and decided that Zimmerman’s “non-judicial” killing of Martin was not unlawful and, by definition, not unjust. They certainly wouldn’t have voted to acquit Zimmerman, thereby releasing him back into their own community if they bought the prosecution’s case.

      What would you have preferred occurred at Zimmerman’s trial, and by what reasoning?

      1. I have followed this case fairly closely and I have never seen reliable evidence that Martin had safely reached his home and then left it again to confront Zimmerman. Can you provide some evidence for this claim?

    3. The notion that the victim of a non-judicial killing “got justice” reflects the ideology of a vigalante group or a lynch mob.

      Another trait of vigilantes and lynch mobs is refusal to accept the verdict rendered by a jury which actually heard the entire case in a court of law.

      1. The defining trait of vigilantes and lynch mobs is that they commit acts of violence, even kill people. Given the absence of such here – except for Mr. Zimmerman and perhaps Mr. Martin – you might consider whether you’re slandering people, or (possibly) failing to communicate your meaning.

        1. Brett didn’t commit any acts of violence or kill anyone either, he merely stated that the Zimmerman trial represents Martin’s justice. Are you saying he was slandered by Marks’s statement: “The notion that the victim of a non-judicial killing “got justice” reflects the ideology of a vigalante group or a lynch mob.“? I’ll pay attention to your scolding when you learn to apply it evenly.

      2. The jury found that there wasn’t proof beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was guilty of the specific crimes alleged. If you think that’s the same thing as a guilty verdict with the death penalty attached against the man he killed – which is the only reasonable meaning of the proposition that “Trayvon got justice” – you need a basic refresher course in criminal law.

        1. Hello Mark,

          We agree it would be in error to suggest ‘that’s the same thing as a guilty verdict with the death penalty attached against the man he killed…’

          But is that the only reasonable interpretation, when we overhear fellow citizens say “Trayvon got justice”?

          When a person is killed by another known person, all we can do–publicly, as an upright, reasonable democratic community–is to hold a fair trial in which we assess the competing reasonable interpretations of the life-ending act. In the case of Trayvon Martin, was the known evidence fairly considered by an upright, juried judicial process? Yes. To that extent, a reasonable, public-spirited individual might concluded ‘Trayvon Martin got justice’…while simultaneously deploring the tragedy–and fervently wishing it hadn’t come to pass.

        2. Sorry, Mark, but I don’t accept your implied assertion that you are the arbiter of what is and is not “the only reasonable meaning” of justice in this case. My understanding of criminal law in this country is that we hold trials to determine guilt and that a jury’s acquittal verdict is final. I’m happy to receive “a basic refresher course in criminal law”, but you’re going to have to do better than “because I say so” if you want to convince me.

          The event as described in court could easily have gone either way. If Martin had succeeded in knocking Zimmerman unconscious, he could have easily taken Zimmerman’s gun and carried out his alleged threat to kill him. Given his skin color and our society’s prejudices, I wouldn’t speculate on the likelihood, but he might even have been able to successfully claim self-defense and win acquittal in the absence of Zimmerman’s ability to testify to the contrary, and in that scenario, however unlikely, we’d have to accept that verdict just the same. That’s my understanding of our justice system. By all means, convince me with facts if you feel correction is indicated.

          Either way, a needless tragedy took place that could have been avoided by either party. All either one needed to do was back off. I think that’s the most important lesson we can take from this, and insisting that the blame lies entirely on one party avoids that important lesson. And for what? A sustained hunger for vengeance after the final verdict is rendered only indicates gluttony for further violence.

          1. My understanding of criminal law in this country is that we hold trials to determine guilt and that a jury’s acquittal verdict is final.

            Yes, but this is very different from the question of whether Trayvon Martin received justice. If we are to judge that he did based upon a verdict passed against another man, then his guilt is being established at a much lower threshold: that there was reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman was guilty.

            That’s not justice.

          2. J. Michael Neal: That’s not justice.

            OK. As long as we’re expressing opinions, what further action, in your opinion, would constitute “justice” at this point?

          3. I don’t think there are any further actions to take, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for actual justice.

          4. All either one needed to do was back off.

            Indeed. No doubt this would have been the best course. And Stand Your Ground laws invite/enable/embolden people in heated moments not to do that.

          5. JMN: I don’t think there are any further actions to take, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for actual justice.

            OK. Then what would have constituted justice? A different “verdict passed against another man” — the verdict the armchair jury that didn’t attend the trial would have preferred? How is that any more just?

            Or is there no justice? And then why are we having this discussion about a “Justice for Trayvon” rally?

    4. Harold Pollack–in the Washington Post and on Bloggingheads–has issued highly personalistic attacks on George Zimmerman’s character: Zimmerman is ‘a pathetic man’ and ‘a schmuck with a gun,’ etc. To the best of my knowledge, Pollack has nowhere provided the public with his basis for concluding Zimmerman is a bad person.

      It is a serious breach of gentlepersonly comportment–to assail an individual’s character without evidence.

      In the WaPo, Pollack refers to ‘Zimmerman’s apparent racial profiling’ of Martin–linking to a Richard Cohen piece where Cohen states ‘But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize.’

      So we now know how Pollack knows that George Zimmerman is a reprobate, guilty of racial profiling: Because Richard Cohen has a vague hunch.

      An upright judicial process considered the state’s claim that Zimmerman acted improperly. That claim was found unpersuasive. No extrajudicial execution was found to have occurred–as Zimmerman’s self-defense claim appears plausible and indeed corroborated by evidence. (A ‘non-judicial killing’–let us expose weasel words–is what ended Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s life.) A court has issued a defensible, sensible verdict.

      A just judicial process looked into the claims Kleiman, Pollack and Obama appear to continue to believe. To suggest–as Kleiman does–that support for vigilantism and the lynch mob is required for one to believe that justice was served by the Florida verdict is unhinged.

      1. I also said that I would not have wanted to see Zimmerman sentenced to 20 years for what he did, that the jury reached a proper verdict given its instructions, and that I don’t believe he woke up that morning intending to see anyone die that day. I find him to be a pathetic character, not an evil one–like so many people who cause tragedies.

        1. Thanks for the clarification, Prof. Pollack–I now understand that while you consider George Zimmerman a pathetic schmuck who ’caused’ the Trayvon Martin tragedy, you don’t deem him evil. I stand corrected.

      2. An upright judicial process considered the state’s claim that Zimmerman acted improperly. That claim was found unpersuasive.

        No. What the process determined was that there was not evidence to show, beyond reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman acted illegally. That’s a far cry from your statement. I personally think the jury likely reached the correct verdict, but I in no sense think Zimmerman acted “properly.”

  3. Whatever legal judgement has been made the fact remains that George Zimmerman is a dim witted paranoid who is still roaming the streets with a deadly weapon. Let us pray he has at least been disabused of his cop wannabe fantasies.

    1. Lord, no. In his most recent interviews he has disavowed any sense of regret or pity. He has learned nothing. Wy should he? The victim was put on trial.

  4. In my reading of the case, the key injustice was in Zimmerman’s racial profiling of Martin, which started it all. It is this injustice, representative of a vastly larger pathos in American society – that young black men are unfairly viewed with suspicion – that seems to have been codified by the way the legal system managed to exclude this core problem from the question of Zimmerman’s guilt. The fallout from the trial in which large portions of the white public also seek to exclude questions of racism (explicit or implicit) seems to only further demonstrate the injustice.

    1. Also, guns. If Zimmerman hadn’t been out walking his gun, he never would have gotten out of the car, he would never have tried to confront Martin. If he’d had pepper spray, or an air horn, and had felt empowered to confront Martin, both would still be alive. The gun gave him the bravado, the feeling of ultimate power, that let him cultivate his fantasies and caused him to get in a situation where (according to him, and deemed plausible by the courts), he might defend himself using deadly force – using a device manufactured solely for the purpose of providing deadly force.

      Note this isn’t just about guns as such – it’s about our society’s attitude towards guns, the way we encourage insecure fantasists like Zimmerman to find their manhood in a gun. Zimmerman is one step from Travis Bickel, in no small part because we have a culture-wide disease of encouraging people like him to be one step from Travis Bickel.

      1. There is no evidence that Zimmerman “confronted” Martin — Martin and Zimmerman were not in proximity to one another and had not spoken when Zimmerman and Martin saw each each when Zimmerman caught Martin “casing” a house. Zimmerman lost Martin when Martin then ran back to his father’s girlfriend’s yard.

        Martin, in other words, was home. But Martin then called Rachel Jenteal and decided to leave and to go confront Zimmerman, as both the physical evidence (Zimmerman’s injuries), witness testimony (one witness saw Martin on top of Zimmerman “MMA-style”), and circumstantial evidence (another witness saw Martin run and disappear into a yard — that yard was his father’s girlfriend’s house) all indicate.

        That Martin decided to assault someone whom he did not know was armed was most unfortunate for Martin, but it certainly does not indicate that Zimmerman “confronted” Martin.

        On what evidence-based reasoning do you claim that Zimmerman confronted Martin?

        1. He stalked Martin like he would wild game, or a dangerous beast – and, perhaps, his quarry turned on him. He got the confrontation he wanted, though possibly not in the manner he wanted, and once begun it definitely did not follow the script he undoubtedly dreamed of a thousand times before that night. And all of it because of the gun empowering his fantasies.

        2. = = = Martin, in other words, was home. But Martin then called Rachel Jenteal and decided to leave and to go confront Zimmerman, = = =

          So you acknowledge that Trevor Martin was acting in defense of his family, girlfriend, and neighborhood when he tried to chase a dangerous armed stalker (Zimmerman) away? Not the wisest course of action I agree but fully justified under neighborhood watch and stand-your-ground principles as they have been explained to me by the hard Radical Right.

          Cranky

  5. I did not understand it to be the case that Treyvon Martin had reached home and then sallied out of his refugee to attack Zimmerman (whom he thought was a sexual predator). Could you please substantiate that allegation?

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