Those of us who were not there that night have no right to declare Zimmerman guilty of murder. That is what the legal system is for, to declare guilt or innocence. This does not mean that Martin’s family and friends or other concerned citizens should not call for further investigation into the matter. But to equate justice with imprisoning Zimmerman or firing officials is premature. These determinations should not be made until procedures consistent with the due process protections contained in the Bill of Rights, and extended to the states by the 14th Amendment, have run their course.
It is irresponsible for anyone to disregard due process of law and judge guilt or innocence from what they see on TV. Also, those in positions of authority, and those who are responsible for upholding and adhering to due process of law, should resist the temptation to further inflame passions.
At a time like this, leaders and politicians should be the calm heads of reason and demand that justice be served in the only way it can be served, by a strict adherence to the rule of law and the procedures mandated by the Constitution.
When passions dictate our actions, we can mistake vengeance for justice. If one of my children were shot I would not be willing to wait for a trial nor care a wit about the rule of law. I would want to see the perpetrator suffer. But that is also why I shouldn’t be allowed to decide the shooter’s fate.
Government and the American legal system are set up for this due process, because people cannot act as impartial judges in their own cases. When people are left to be judge and executioner, their emotions will likely guide their reason, and society’s bonds will break.
If the initial media accounts of that tragic night in Sanford are correct, Zimmerman did just this – let emotion guide reason – when he pursued and possibly when he shot Trayvon. But we cannot know the truth of that night, nor can we consider ourselves morally superior to Zimmerman, if we don’t aspire to a higher standard of justice.