Back in the early 90s, Rodney King plaintively asked “ can’t we all just get along?” Rodney King who recently passed away, you’ll recall, was the black man beaten by white cops in Los Angeles whose acquittals in the court system touched off devastating race riots in that city. Once again, it seems, our country is polarized along sides of racial divide in the Trayvon Martin murder case. The shooter in the case, George Zimmerman (portrayed variously as White, Hispanic, or White/Hispanic), used the court hearing for his bail on April 20, to apologize to the family of his victim, which has set off even more controversy.
Bail was set in Orange County court at $150,000 after Mr. Zimmerman was formally charged with second degree murder for the shooting death of Martin nearly two months ago. On opposing sides of the controversy are racial profiling (Martin was Black) and the “Stand Your Ground” law that permits lethal force if there is a threat of injury or death. The family of Trayvon Martin claim that Zimmerman staged his apology to them as an attempt to influence his bail being set, as it was almost two months after the shooting.
Supporters of Zimmerman claim that he was merely responding to the questions posed publicly by Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, ( “are you sorry? did you know he was unarmed? did you know how young he was?”). Publicly is where the case is already being tried, with opposing views being expressed and aired on countless blogs, talk shows, and panels around the country. The judge in the case is not making a statement regarding Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence; rather, by granting a bail bond, he’s expressing his confidence that the defendant will show up for court, that he doesn’t pose a threat to the community at large.
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, filed a motion for this Friday’s bail hearing , when O’Mara will again try to secure his client’s release pending trial. A trial date has not yet been set. In a Motion to Set Reasonable Bond, O’Mara argues Florida’s state Constitution practically requires Zimmerman’s pretrial release.
Twenty years later, as another racially divisive incident has galvanized our country, the late Rodney King summed up his feeling at a recent panel in Los Angeles: “and remember one thing- yes we all can get along” .