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I, like many Americans, am torn at the verdict of the Zimmerman trial.  The real tragedy of it for me, besides the grief over the death of an innocent child, is how the laws of this land have been changed to allow for such a crime to be committed, and to go unpunished.

Sure, you can say Mr. Zimmerman committed no crime, because he was put on trial and  by a jury of his peers, he was found not guilty.  The law permits him to do exactly what he did.  He is innocent.

I say, this man saw a hooded figure walking in his neighborhood, ignored police advice, decided this hooded figure was guilty, and decided to punish him.  And he did.  To me, he shot an innocent, unarmed child, and got away with it.  That, my friends, is a crime against humanity.

Zimmerman was legally within the laws of his state.  He felt threatened, he went to where he believed he had a right to be, he brought a gun, he Stood His Ground, he shot in what he believed to be Self Defense.  End of story.  Police don’t even have grounds to arrest him.  

I wonder if it had been Trayvon, sitting in his house, and saw George walking by in a hoodie, had been afraid of some mysterious guy, had called the police, who told him to stand down, yet decided to pick up his gun and go after George on his own.  Imagine him walking up to George, demanding what he was doing.  I imagine George, simply walking home after grabbing a soda at the store, would be a bit unnerved by some guy following him.  Imagine, George trying to defend himself from some guy he didn’t know.  Imagine, George crying, screaming for help, and Trayvon shooting him dead.  Imagine the police show up, Trayvon telling them his story, that he was defending himself, and the police pat him on the back, and say, hey, buddy, no worries, go on home, we’ll take it from here.  Cause that’s okay too, right?  It would have been acceptable for a 17 year old child of color to follow a man through the neighborhood, confront him, feel threatened, and shoot him down in cold blood?  No need to arrest him, officer, he was simply following the law.  

Zimmerman was a man who lived in fear, and his actions were a reflection of that fear.  Where did he get that fear?

From the system that pushes it, like a junky, through the collective veins and arteries that make up  this country.  It is an IV with direct access to our darkest doubts.  It is shoveled down our throats in a daily buffet on our news channels.  Keep a watch out.  Fear your neighbors.  Fear is the daily bread of our collective unconscious.

It is not only the laws that were created in order to socially accept the shooting of another human being, simply because you felt threatened by this other person, it is the fear that lives behind it that justifies murder.

There are thousands of good people out there who are responsible gun owners, who might have saw a hooded guy walk by in their neighborhood, and simply thought, hey, that dude’s just walking home.  No big deal.  But if someone tries to break in here and mess with me, I’m ready.  They would never just shoot someone.  Not without a real cause.  I don’t blame responsible gun owners.

If I saw a guy walking by my street who was wearing a hood on a rainy night, would I refuse to listen to police advisement and grab my Walther and hunt this guy down?  

If you are so afraid, why would you go after someone who should be innocent until proven guilty?

This hooded figure had committed no crime.  There was no one calling saying, hey, someone was just robbed.  Someone was just assaulted.  Look out for the Hooded Guy.  Hooded Guy is bad news.  Call the police if you see Hooded Guy.

No, it was simply an everyday occurrence, a kid walking down the street.  Yet, Mr. Z decided upon himself that he was that much in fear, that he had to go chase it. Maybe he was looking for a fight.  He had already decided, this punk is up to something, he’s guilty of something, and I’m going to take care of him myself.  

Mr. Z had already tried and convicted Hooded Guy in his mind.  He looks suspicious.  He’s guilty.  I don’t know of what.  But he’s guilty. He knew if he got into an altercation, that he could simply say, I felt in danger.  I stood my ground.

Once he spoke these words, there was nothing the police could do.  The law states, he doesn’t even have to be arrested, brought in for questioning, explain what happened, explain to a family how their child was shot dead when he had simply taken a walk to get some tea and candy, and the next thing they know, he’s dead, gone, because he went for a walk.  Because someone felt threatened by that.  Someone was afraid of a kid walking by in a hoodie.

Of course, we understand that there is a racist component to these laws, these fears.  A study done using FBI data reveals that whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground laws are 354% more likely to be cleared of murder.  

So, for those of you who say there’s no racist component in these shootings, put that in your racist pipe and smoke it.

Despite our hope for justice in our country, our laws have not been created to ensure a moral standard in our judicial system.  Those who claim we should all follow the “rule of law” should realize who’s been making the rules lately, (ahem... ALEC, and GOP extremists) and what these laws in fact mean to all of us.  

Stand Your Ground laws are the result of a very cozy relationship between ALEC and the NRA.  This legislation has not been brought state by state from a grassroots movement of worried, fearful citizens looking to protect themselves.  This has been a top down, big corporations conspiring with the gun lobby to allow gun owners to get away with murder.  Big money for those who make weapons.  Feed the fear, and arm up, boys.  Someone walks through your neighborhood and you think he’s up to no good?  Shoot ‘em down, tell the police you felt afraid, and it’s no questions asked.

This kind of collective consciousness of death comes straight from our leaders.

What does the Terror Tuesday meeting do?  A gathering of government officials with information on cards about people a world away, and stories discussed on who’s making them feel threatened today.  Who should we kill today, gentlemen, so they don’t come and kill us first?  Second hand news used to decide who is going to die this week, because maybe, just maybe, they might want to harm us.

It says, I think you are guilty, I feel threatened, so I am going to kill you before you have a chance to kill me.  It’s the ultimate Stand Your Ground on an international level.  The Stand Your Ground Dirty War Trickle Down.

This isn’t just about Zimmerman, or Trayvon, this is a look inside the belly of the beast.  This is what our country has become.  It represents who we are, what we represent.  Where we place our value on humanity and human lives.  If they can do it out there on an international level, then we might as well do it in our own neighborhoods too.

They don’t call it The Bully Pulpit for nothing.

So how do we fix this problem when by it’s very nature is systemic in our government policies, whether they be foreign or domestic?  

This is more than just a story about Trayvon and George.  Yes, I want to save that black child from gun violence.  I want to save that white child’s life too.  And that brown child’s life from drone strikes a half a world away.  This doesn’t just happen in our neighborhoods, it’s happening across our country and around the world.  It is the unregulated, immoral laws that keep on giving, except it’s gift is the endless stream of dead bodies that pile up in the name of “freedom” and “security.”  

Gun laws that don’t value human life.  Bombing campaigns a world away that don’t respect international treaties.

Where do we go from here?  As with most serious issues, I wonder if we will have a serious debate about the substance of the issue, instead of just the players who were caught in the ugly circumstances.

Yes, we should all be angry at what happened with this Zimmerman verdict.  For those who cheer and wallop and celebrate Zimmerman’s newfound freedom, I weep for your lack of humanity at the collective grief the rest of us feel about the sad fact that a child went out for a walk to the store, and was shot dead because someone feared him.  It makes us hold our children closer, maybe drive our kids to the store, instead of letting them walk the streets of our neighborhoods, not because we fear a predator in a van might be ready to assault him or her, but because our neighbor down the street might think he’s guilty of a crime he never committed, and shoot him down because he was afraid.  The words Zimmerman uses, that he has no remorse, that he believed it was “God’s plan,” is a slap on the face to all of us who grieve the loss of a child.  If for one moment, he had apologized, had shown regret, had said, what an awful tragedy, maybe the agony of it all would have less of a sting to it.  Maybe there would not be such anger.

It all adds fuel to the fire, the collective unconscious of the rest of us who worry about the spread of violence against innocent citizens, and the culprits continuing to go unpunished.

I understand the anger at the injustice perpetrated upon our communities.  We live in a gun culture, a shoot ‘em up and no questions asked Wild Wild West of legally carrying a gun into a legislative house of democracy, yet having a tampon confiscated from a woman’s purse while laws are being passed against a woman’s right to govern her own body.  

When we look at the laws being forced through state houses right now, we see the realities of what is important to the law creators.  We see those who claim the desire to protect an unborn fetus, who claim to value life, yet speak nothing on the endless children suffering from starvation, from homelessness, from child abuse, and dying from gun violence.  They claim moral outrage at “baby killers” yet their voices are silent at those lawmakers who cut food stamps, literally taking food out of hungry children’s mouths.  There is no moral outrage at a starving child, or a murdered one either.

There are those of us who are outraged, though, at what we see happening across our country.  It is the de-valuing of human life through a system of governmental policies brought to us by corporate leaders who care nothing about human dignity.  Those of us who’ve suffered along the fringes, who’ve been victims of these “laws” that we are supposed to follow like sheep, who’ve watched hunger and homelessness and injustice happen again and again, have grown weary, and tired, and angry.  

We are ready to direct that anger towards thoughtful, powerful, useful, transformative action that will bring about the kind of change that will only come when we unite together to bring about the change we all wish to see in this country, not only in our domestic laws and policies, but in our international policies as well.

We must fight not only to prevent more Trayvons from happening.  We must also fight to prevent more drone strikes, bombings of innocent lives on the other side of the world.  We must fight for the value of the life of the child that is already here, the one who lives on the street,the one who goes hungry every night, the ones who will starve because their food stamps have been cut by some dirty politician who thinks they are balancing the budget.

It is when we value all human life and fight for the dignity and freedom of everyone that will bring about the change we wish to see in our country, and in the world.

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