As thousands of protesters took to the streets this weekend to protest George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old high school student who Zimmerman claims he killed last year in act of self-defense, celebrities around the globe voiced their own reactions to the verdict. One of the most powerful responses came from David Simon, best known as the creator of HBO’s “The Wire” and, incidentally, a former crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, whose blog post about the case went viral on Saturday.
The details of Martin’s death on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, immediately galvanized the public. Among the most contentious aspects of the case was the fact that Martin was not carrying a weapon at the time of the incident, along with the racial undertones -- Martin was African-American, while Zimmerman is half White and half Hispanic.
When Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder charges on Saturday night, many Americans were outraged. Shortly after the verdict was pronounced protests began springing up around the country.
In a post titled "Trayvon," published on his blog The Audacity of Despair on Saturday, Simon called the verdict a grave injustice, writing that the Florida Stand Your Ground law used by Zimmerman is inherently biased in favor of White gun owners. Simon writes :
“You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re dead.
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"In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man -- and one man only -- had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.
"If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence -- these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.
"Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies: Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible. I can’t look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country. Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.”
By Monday morning, Simon’s post had amassed more than 300 comments and received over 1,700 Facebook Likes. “As an Europian (Dutch) I can not understand how a man can be aquitted when a) he followed the victim b) he shoots and kills the UNARMED victim. What did this 17 yr old kid do to deserve this? [sic]” one user wrote.
“Imagine if Martin had bested Zimmerman in the scuffle, maybe even killing him. Would he have been allowed to use the Stand Your Ground defense? Doubtful,” wrote another.