We’ve heard analysis and predictions from experts in federal and Florida laws about the George Zimmerman trial, but what do common folks think about the trial that has a whole nation on its feet?
Students in the College Now program at Lehman College in the Bronx were interviewed and gave their opinions on this controversial case. A majority of the interviewed agreed that Zimmerman is guilty and did not kill Trayvon Martin for self-defense.
Emilio Del Valle, a sixteen year-old who resides in Manhattan, said the murder of Trayvon Martin is “terrible”. He said the death of Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager shot by neighborhood guard George Zimmerman on February of last year, is a tragedy in the African American community.
He admitted he has not been following the news on the shooting and the trial,but gets the most recent information on the trial through the grapevine.
“Even though I’m only half black, it hurts me,” said Del Valle. He said that Zimmerman would not have shot Martin if he were white. He also said Zimmerman shot Martin for racist reasons, and that he only hears about black or Latino teens getting shot in the country.
According to a 2009 report on crime by the Pew Hispanic Center, 40% of all crime in the United States accounted Latinos as responsible in 2007. An investigation by the New Century Foundation found that African Americans are 39 times more likely to commit a crime against whites than vice versa. The report also found that only 10% of youth gang member are white.
“No matter what they say, this country still has a lot of racism,” Del Valle added. He said shootings like this could be stopped if the Florida government put more regulation on guns in the state and that changing the state’s self defense law would make it easier for the judge to decide on the case and convict Zimmerman.
Eni Kokici, a sixteen year-old Albanian immigrant, said she had not heard about neither the murder of Trayvon Martin nor the Zimmerman Trial before being asked in our interview. “I only watch Euro news,” she said.
When asked about how race has been inevitably involved in the case, Kokici said, “it goes both ways”. She said that, because she is white, she always gets weird looks when she walks around neighborhoods with predominantly Hispanic or black populations.
“They all go like ‘Oh, she’s white, what is she doing here?’ I guess being white makes you racist automatically,” she said.
Kokici said that it is true that some whites are racist, and that they have affected the way minorities see whites in general.
“People just assume its race related because of history” she concluded.
Joshua Colome, seventeen, heard about the murder of Martin from the news last year and said he has been following the trial. He said Zimmerman is “trying to be a victim but will not get away with it”. Colome said that a neighborhood watch is not the same as a policeman, and that Zimmerman shot Martin “just because he was black”.
Colome insisted Zimmerman found Martin threatening because he was wearing a hooded sweater that night and was African American, not because of suspicious behavior. He said the trial reflect how present racism is in American society today.
“If he (Zimmerman) is innocent, killing a person is legal”.