Prosecutor's Decision in Martin Case Not Surprising

Barrington M. Salmon | 4/11/2012, 1:42 p.m.

Trayvon was not armed, and carried with him a pack of Skittles and an iced tea he had purchased from a 7-11 convenience store. His murder has generated outrage nationally and abroad and has brought to the forefront issues of race, vigilantism and gun laws in Florida that would allow someone to follow a person, confront him, kill him and then claim self-defense.

April 10 was designated "National Hoodie Day" by local radio personality Joe Madison at a Trayvon for Justice Rally in downtown Washington in late March. In the meantime, protestors held rallies in Tallahassee and Miami demanding that the authorities file murder charges against Zimmerman.

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks echoed the sentiments of black parents everywhere.

"But for the grace of God, Trayvon could have been my son," he said. "We're not here to try [Zimmerman] in the streets or through the press. We just want the justice system to work as it should."

Last week, Zimmerman hired a new legal team, and members asked the public to withhold judgment until the investigation into the shooting is concluded. However, one of Zimmerman's lawyers, Hal Uhrig, contends in a recent interview that Trayvon was responsible for his own death.

"It's because that 6-foot-3 young man made a terrible decision and a bad judgment when he decided to smack somebody in the face and break their nose, jump on them and smack their head into the ground, and in doing that, put him in reasonable fear for his safety," he said. "He was absolutely entitled to defend himself and that's why Trayvon Martin is dead, not because of racial profiling."

Zimmerman has also set up a website where he is soliciting donations to pay his legal expenses. Also on April 10, Zimmerman ended weeks of silence when he released a public statement on the website where he described Trayvon's death as a "life altering event." He added, "as a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family, and ultimately my entire life."

Right-wing media has attempted to portray Trayvon as a thug and a criminal.

His father Tracy Martin responded in an interview with The Nation of Islam's Final Call.

"I love my son and he was a wonderful gift just like any child is a gift to any other father," Martin said. "I as a father will not stand by and allow them to smear his character. I will stand tall on his name ... What many in the press choose to deal with in terms of the smear campaign is irrelevant to the crime committed by Zimmerman. My question to them is out of all the accusations they're making against Trayvon's character, was he doing any of that the night he was killed? Was he doing anything wrong the night Zimmerman murdered him? And the answer is no."

"We will not be detoured from the fight for justice regardless of what some in the media may say. We're standing up for Trayvon."

Hampton said Zimmerman clearly over-reacted.

"This is a sad commentary on the whole process," he said.

Hampton said he is vigorously opposed to Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which Zimmerman used to claim self-defense, calling it "vigilante legislation that authorizes people to use guns."

"The only reasonable part is using force according to the force applied. That means that you can't use a gun if the person does not have one," he asserted.

To those who argue that race was not an issue in Trayvon's death, Hampton is clear: "Race is always involved in our country. Zimmerman may not be a racist but he is influenced by stereotypes."

"This is another opportunity for us to have a conversation around race ... [but] we run away from [these] conversations ... we may have lost the opportunity."