July 19, 2013

What if Zimmerman had been found guilty?

By La Prensa San Diego


George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trevyon Martin, a young black man.

What followed was public outcry from the Black community calling for justice and civil rights charges to be brought forth. We are concerned that the justice system failed the community. We are concerned about racial profiling, stereotyping, race relations, and social justice. And we agree that there needs to be more dialogue about repealing Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.

These are all valid issues. Yet, these are not new issues.

We wonder what the dialogue would have been had Zimmerman been found guilty. Would the existing undercurrent or cause and effect of policies and attitudes change? Of course the answer would be no, but at least with a guilty verdict, the Black community would have had some sense of justice being served.

Racial profiling and social justice issues have been around long before the Zimmerman trial and they will be there long after the public protesting has gone away. But many Hispanics find ourselves a bit frustrated with the media attention the Treyvon Martin case has generated because there was little public outcry when Anastacio Hernandez Rojas was tasered to death by the border patrol. Outside of one or two Hispanic groups, there was no public outrage.

What about the racial profiling going on in Escondido? There has been some outcry from citizens and Hispanics in Escondido, but what about the rest of county and other ethnic groups, where has their support been to stop the attacks on Hispanic civil rights?

In Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty this year of profiling Hispanics. This was after decades of flaunting the law and receiving praise and recognition for his cracking down hard on immigrants. For many Arpaio was seen as a modern day hero!

We recall Christian Morales who was beaten by Chula Vista police in his driveway, in front of his mother, when he was miss-identified as a thief.

Where was the public outcry then?

Then there are the thousands of smaller, but no less important, attacks on civil rights. A good example is in the story today, in La Prensa San Diego, about José Guadalupe Martinez who has had his right to drive taken away. José feels discriminated against by the police. His story is one that would have been just one of many that happens every day, except he took his cause to Herman Baca of the Committee on Chicano Rights.

An investigation has been called for in the case of Mr. Martinez but as of yet Baca and Martinez have been stonewalled by the authorities. Not a high profile case but one that needs to be addressed because it affects his rights and ability to provide for his family.

Civil rights and social injustice continues.

We find it frustrating that some are calling the Zimmerman acquittal a ‘wake up call’. If this case is indeed a wakeup call then those folks who are just now waking up have been in deep denial for some time now.

The question is, after all the public protesting, what happens next?

We can’t say for sure what the answer is but we believe a good place to start would be to come together as communities and work together to address the issues, not as individual ethnic groups, but as a whole. A good place to start would be at the local level and build upon that.

To wait for a high profile case, respond with outrage, and then fall back to a state of denial until the next high profile case does very little.

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