Worse than a hate crime
Mr. Smith is correct in putting Florida’s “self defense” laws, as well as its concealed carry laws, on trial as co-conspirators in the horrible death of young Mr. Martin. If the focus is on the shooter’s perpetrating a hate crime, the real culprit will continue to haunt innocent citizens, particulary young black men.
If the murder is treated as a hate crime, the focus will be on Zimmerman, his motives and personality. It is very possible that Zimmerman acted through prejudice, i.e., assuming a black youth was a potential criminal suspect, and not hatred. It is likely he was a “make-believe cop” armed with a very real deadly weapon and utter ignorance of law enforcement. For justice to be done, Zimmerman must be charged with homicide, and be forced to prove his self defense. It would be a miscarriage of justice to accuse Zimmerman of a hate crime, have that fail and with that verdict the failure of a prosecution for what is likely an unjustified homicide.
The cause of Mr. Martin and his family must also be tried in the sphere of public opinion, where the NRA, right-wing legislators and other Second Amendment nuts are to be displayed as the shameful reckless fools they are. Florida’s (and many other state’s) lax gun laws put lethal weapons in the hands of would-be fantasy cops, unstable people, rascists and reckless do-gooders; young Martin’s death is the result. “Hold your ground” self-defense laws allow these reckless killers to justify their senseless acts. Furthermore, “stop and frisk” policies, such as implemented in NYC, brand all young black men lawfully and peacefully on the streets as suspects. These policies delegitimize the human and constitutional rights of innocent citizens. Law enforcement has declared that the rights of young black men are conditional and unequal.
A courageous prosecutor must indict and try Mr. Zimmerman; courageous politicians must take on the gun lobby and its minions, and the unlawful police policies and restore dignity to all our citizens.