NEWS: The Verdict? Justice Denied … Again

PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS

PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS

SELF-DEFENSE OR SENSELESS: WHEN DOES THE VIOLENCE STOP

History tends to repeat itself, so once again the world looks on as thousands across the United States marched in mass protest after the “not guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department says it will review the case for possible violations of the unarmed teen’s civil rights.

Attorney General Eric Holder initially launched an investigation into whether the 2012 confrontation between Zimmerman, 29, and Trayvon, 17, was motivated by racial profiling, but he stepped aside to let the Florida trial proceed, according to reports. On Saturday, a little more than 16 hours of deliberations led to a six-member jury acquitting Zimmerman on all charges, including second-degree murder.

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The decision has set off heated debate, outrage and disbelief as many learned Monday that the gun used to kill an unarmed teen will be returned to the former neighborhood watchman who pulled the trigger that fateful February night in Sanford, Fla. Sad but true, Trayvon’s story has been played out many times over. Racial profiling and injustice seem to go hand in hand. And, you don’t need to look far to figure out the obvious, particularly when you’re a young, black man in America. Have you seen The Central Park Five documentary yet?

How timely Fruitvale Station opened the same weekend as the Florida case closed. But, this is more than art imitating life, writer/director Ryan Coogler tells Gawker. “I hope that the film will inspire thought process in the people who watch it that can lead to discourse,” he says. Fruitvale Station is based on the 2009 fatal shooting of an unarmed 22-year-old black man by a BART police officer in Oakland, Calif. The victim, Oscar Grant, had committed no crime and video footage captured the tragedy as it unfolded on New Year’s Day.

“For me, it isn’t just about racism,” Coogler continues. “For me, it’s more about the fact that so many people like Oscar are dying unnecessary violent deaths, regardless of who was holding the trigger. These young people are losing their lives and they’re leaving people behind.”  The officer who shot Grant was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served less than a year.

Coogler leaves us with something else to ponder upon visiting the film’s website: “At the end of the day, when I first made this project, it was about humanity, and how we treat the people we love most and the people we don’t know.”

Recommended:

USA Today photo gallery: http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/Thousands+rally+for+Trayvon+Martin/G3624

Fruitvale Station: http://www.fruitvalefilm.com/

The Central Park Five: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/centralparkfive/

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