As the world watched the seconds and minutes accumulate to agonizing hours during the deliberation period in the George Zimmerman trial, many rested on the morals of six female jurors (5 white, 1 minority). Five mothers who we thought knew the value of a child’s life, sans color or association. We valued motherly intuition over what was their instinctive thinking. The disbelief of the final verdict was feeble in comparison to what took place during the deliberation and after the stunning verdict.
Lynching in the South was the most effective method of enforcing Jim Crow in the years following Reconstruction. Word of a lynching spread like the sickness it was. Hillbilly hamlets prepared days in advance for what was their ultimate social/sporting event. Between 1882 and 1968 at least 5,000 Blacks were tortured, lynched and burned. The circumstances behind these atrocities stemmed from something as frivolous as failing to step out of the way of a white driver. In some cases, mere suspicion of an act could mean facing unspeakable horrors. The accusations and the degree of those offenses lied literally on tongues of blood-thirsty racists, driven to keep Blacks in everlasting fear.
As photography popularized in the early 20th century, lynching became one of the most photographed events in the United States. Postcards were sold with the images of hanging Black men women and in some cases children. Purchases had grown so in quantity and repulsion to the point where the U.S. Postmaster General banned their sales in 1908.
White women and children attended lynchings at the encouragement of the mobs. In fact, some of the most aroused and entertained of these patrons were white women.
If you can stand it, check out a photograph of a Black lynching. Somewhere close to a burned or hanging corpse is a white women — her eyes in a trance-like gaze — her countenance demonic.
I feared a long deliberation would ultimately favor the defense. For some reason, I was confident in the prosecution’s final pleas to the majority white jury. After all there were five mothers on the jury. It should have been more than enough to convict George Zimmerman.
While the defense hung Trayvon Martin in effigy, three of the six jurors were already on board to acquit Zimmerman. Three others were convinced in over 15 hours of deliberation that Zimmerman’s only offense was community policing. Meanwhile, Martin was at fault because he dared to question being profiled and stalked in a place where Zimmerman felt he didn’t belong.
As the trial drew to a close, the nation received its postcard. The photograph of Trayvon’s lifeless body was shown on stations which televised the trial. Martin’s body lay on the grass, his eyes and mouth open as if to let out one last cry for help. Martin’s final pleas were heard by the world, but fell deaf to the only twelve ears that mattered.
In the aftermath of the trial, juror #b37 cowered in the shadows as she spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Her blood money deal to write a book has since been rescinded, but her time on the airwaves was no less infuriating.
- She claimed “all but probably one” of the jurors believed the screams were those of George Zimmerman and not Trayvon Martin.
- Felt Zimmerman “learned a good lesson” and she “would feel comfortable having George” on her neighborhood watch.
- Referred to Trayvon Martin as a person of color.
- Claimed Zimmerman’s heart was in the right place when he profiled, stalked and killed Trayvon Martin.
- Authorities returned the murder weapon to George Zimmerman.
A trophy awarded in a contest where there were no winners.