Trial of George Zimmerman Could Trigger Another Rodney King

Mansfield Frazier, The Daily Beast, April 18, 2012

As George Zimmerman faces murder charges for shooting Trayvon Martin, it’s worth asking if America is in danger of facing Rodney King, Part II?

That’s what I see down the tracks: If this case goes all the way to trial, it’s a train wreck waiting to happen. The time is now for strong hands to take the helm and steady the ship of state—not to mention our national racial, political and legal discourse. The paramount concern has to be to avert a large-scale racial calamity.

As Touré recently wrote, if sane adults are not careful, deliberate and measured in the handling of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman affair, a dark time could descend upon America.

{snip} One false or ill-conceived move in this case could allow the loony inmates—not Zimmerman’s current neighbors, but those who are imprisoned by their long-simmering racial hatreds—to fan the incendiary flames of bigotry into full-blown conflagrations of violence across the land.

{snip}

{snip} Fortunately Zimmerman’s new attorney, Mark O’Mara, appears to comprehend the broader implications and potential danger of the situation, and seems well qualified to negotiate a fair outcome for his client, and indeed for the rest of us. {snip}

So what would a fair outcome look like? To my mind, the government offers Zimmerman a plea deal that has him back on the street within this decade, and he accepts it quietly. That seems like a conclusion most reasonable Americans could live with. {snip}

If O’Mara were successful in brokering such a resolution, he should be viewed as nothing less than a savior. A protracted murder trial of George Zimmerman is the last thing this country needs right now. America can only dodge so many racial bullets, and a not-guilty verdict in this case could very easily turn the racial cold war into a very hot one.

Of course, for such a plea scenario to work, Zimmerman will need to listen more to O’Mara than to any of the other voices clamoring for a piece of him. He’s in isolation right now, presumably for his own safety, but a side benefit is that it keeps the more rabid right-wingers from getting inside his head and convincing him to take the case to trial, based on the belief that no matter what the evidence shows, in Florida at least one juror will never vote to convict. Unfortunately, this reasoning is not crazy. The South, after all, is still the South.

{snip} Even if he went to trial and managed to get a hung jury, the state would surely retry him (multiple times, if necessary), until they get a conviction or he’s spent more time in the county lockup than he would have spent in prison if he’d just pleaded guilty in the first place. And even if he were acquitted, let’s not forget the specter of a federal indictment being handed down.

{snip}

We all need to pray that Mark O’Mara is successful in bringing about a fair outcome for his client, for justice, and, more important, for America.

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