The Common Good

The Zimmerman Verdict and the Resurrection of the Old Jim Crow

Date: July 22, 2013

The acquittal of a person who is not black for the killing or beating of a black person is nothing new: Remember Yusef Hawkins. Remember Rodney King. Remember Amadu Diallo. Remember Alex Moore. Remember Latasha Harlins. Remember Sean Bell. Remember... remember... remember.

Many of us can recall these names without much effort. So, why is the death of Trayvon Martin so different?

It's different because of the law -- and the timing.

First, the law. This may have been an unavoidable verdict, under a three-part set of unjust Florida laws.

Before 2005, Florida's self-defense laws mirrored those of the rest of the country. A person had no duty to retreat if being attacked inside their own home, but outside the home they had the duty to get the heck out of dodge, if possible, before using deadly force.