On February 24, 2015, the media outlets delivered breaking news about the DOJ’s decision not to go forward with any civil rights violations against George Zimmerman. A lot of us are becoming so accustomed to being horribly disappointed with the effectiveness of our judicial system. The question keeps echoing as to why there is no accountability in these types of cases.
For those who have not followed this case, here is a refresher. Three years ago, an Hispanic neighborhood volunteer security captain, George Zimmerman shot an unarmed, Black older teenager who was wearing a hoodie while it was raining outside as he was returning home from having just purchased some snacks from a close by local store. This occurred in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. The neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman was successful in claiming that he shot the unarmed young man because he was in fear for his life based in part on the Florida “stand your ground” law. In 2013, a jury of George Zimmerman’s peers rendered a “not guilty” verdict following a highly publicized trial.
Unfortunately, this case seemed to reflect the partisan divide in our country. According to a 2013 Pew poll, the vast majority of White, older registered republican voters and those of the conservative right were in favor of George Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict. Today the right has abandoned this bully but at the time of the 2013 trial, he was strongly supported by this group. This caused me to start blogging on the injustice of too many law enforcement officials fatally shooting an unarmed Black man when this option was not necessary. In my mind this is not a right or left issue but a basic need to value the lives of all our young peoples of all colors and backgrounds.
Again those of us who have been hoping for justice had no choice but to place our faith in the DOJ only to be let down one more time.
ABC News in a 2/24/15 article, “Trayvon Martin: DOJ Set to Announce No Charges Against George Zimmerman ,” by Pierre Thomas, Mike Levine, Seni Tienabeso and Jack Date, is informing us of what we were all expecting but were still holding on to that fleeting sense that we would be proven wrong. The following are excerpts from the article:
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and FBI opened an investigation into the case, noting “experienced federal prosecutors” would determine “whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation” of federal law. In a statement, the department noted there are “limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”
Privately and publicly, Justice Department officials have been telegraphing all along that they were unlikely to file charges against Zimmerman. And in November 2013, Holder said the case against Zimmerman “in substantial part was resolved” with his acquittal months earlier.
Nevertheless, federal officials have insisted their civil-rights probe would be thorough and complete. Several months ago –- nearly two years into the Justice Department’s investigation –- Holder said federal investigators were still seeking to interview certain witnesses “as a result of some recent developments.”
More recently, Holder has said he hoped to announce the findings of the Zimmerman and Ferguson-related probes before he leaves office, which could happen in a matter of weeks, depending on when the U.S. Senate confirms his successor.
Holder has said then when a decision is announced in the Zimmerman case, it will be accompanied by “as much information” as possible detailing the Justice Department’s findings.
MY THEORY AS TO WHY THE DOJ RARELY BRINGS “CIVIL RIGHTS” CHARGES IN THESE TYPE OF CASES
“These cases are investigated for the most part by FBI agents who are by definition law enforcement officials. By nature, they are bound to be biased in favor of police personnel along with the rest of society. According to the 11/24/14 Nation publication by Chase Madar, he reports the following as per some of his excerpts:
First, the big picture. Last year, the FBI tallied 461 “justifiable homicides” committed by law enforcement—justifiable because the Bureau assumes so, and the nation’s courts have not found otherwise. This is the highest number in two decades, even as the nation’s overall homicide rate continues to drop. Homicides committed by on-duty law enforcement make up 3 percent of the 14,196 homicides committed in the United States in 2013. A USA Today analysis of the FBI database found an average of about ninety-six police homicides a year in which a white officer kills a black person.
The FBI’s police homicide stats are fuzzy, and they are surely an undercount, given that they come from voluntary reports to the FBI from police departments all over the country. That the federal government does not keep a strict national tally shows just how seriously it takes this problem. A crowd sourced database has sprung up to fill the gap, as has a wiki-tabulation.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about these police killings, many of them of unarmed victims, is that our courts find them perfectly legal.”
In short, it is my contention that it is virtually impossible to bring charges against a police officer for almost anything that they do in today’s society.
WE THE PEOPLE HAVE TO CHANGE THIS ATTITUDE
When we look back to the 1992 Los Angeles case involving the successful Federal prosecution of the police officers who harmed Rodney King, after they had been acquitted by local jury, we forget that this was 23 years ago in a more liberal county and that the issue of race was not part of securing indictments in Federal court against 3 police men.
According to a 11/30/14 Huffington Post blog by Earl Ofari Hutchinson, the Federal authorities deliberately avoided the subject of race in their prosecution of the police officers who resorted to excessive force and abuse in their treatment of Rodney King and the following are some excerpts from his report:
“The Justice Department’s decision to prosecute rested squarely on two compelling legal and public interest points, neither of which significantly involved any need to proof racial animus. The legal charges were that the officers who beat King acted under the color of the law. This violated a near century old federal statute that makes it a crime to deprive any person of a Constitutional right under the color of law. The statute specifically targeted police officers and public officials who abuse their authority and violate public trust by physically victimizing citizens.”
“The Justice Department assigned more than a dozen agents to the case, and a team of civil rights attorneys and investigators. It repeatedly fended off loud criticisms that the prosecution was a racial witch hunt to satisfy the clamor from civil rights organizations and a sop to African-Americans who blasted their acquittal in state court. This charge was continually leveled at then President George H.W. Bush who green-lighted the federal prosecution. He was accused of caving in to the threat of more bloody riots if he didn’t act.”
I concur with this writer’s premise that these same legal arguments could be filed against the White Police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of a Black, unarmed, older teenager, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. on 8/9/14. This is why I am so distressed about the recent leaked news reports that the DOJ will probably not file any charges against Officer Wilson. The DOJ has to first have the WILL to file charges to withstand the inevitable attacks. If the DOJ wants any credibility in standing up for justice, then it is time for them to take a stance.
NOTE: The Mom. Phyllis Giles through Change.org is asking for support regarding her petition to our Florida Governor, Rick Scott to free her son from prison. In the past, I have blogged about this young man, U.S. Airman Michael Giles who has been unfairly treated by the Florida judicial system because of their gun laws. Please consider giving her your support and here is her story:
This petition will be delivered to:
Commute the 25 Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Michael Giles
Three years ago my son Michael was attacked outside of a club in Tallahassee, FL. His attacker admitted in open court that he attacked Michael with no provocation.
Michael’s attacker admitted he was angry that someone had interrupted his dance, and wanted to hurt the next person he saw. That next person standing to the side, not partaking in the violence, was Michael. His attacker was not fighting alone, state witnesses testified that there were between 30-40 people involved in the brawl. The state’s own witnesses also testified that the aggressor instigated several other fights that night, and was acting erratically and violently. His attacker’s own friend testified she was worried the aggressor would kill or seriously injure someone. In comparison, state witnesses testified that Michael, was calmly standing to the side, and did nothing to provoke the attack.
My husband and I are proud military veterans, with a combined 40 years of service, and we were proud when our son also chose to serve his country. Michael completed a tour in Iraq and Kuwait and was looking forward to furthering his career in the military, but now all of that has changed. We believe that we have raised a good man. He had no prior criminal offenses, no history of violence, and was a outstanding father and Airman. So we do not understand how the state of Florida could sentence him to a mandatory 25 years for defending himself.
Michael has been trained to analyze threats and believed at that moment he needed to defend himself. He realized that his attacker and his attacker’s friends had the upper-hand in numbers and he could have been seriously injured or killed. In his desperate attempt to gain the opportunity to get to his feet and flee, he fired his legally registered weapon and accidentally struck, but did not seriously injure, his attacker in the leg. His only intention to returning to the vehicle was in hopes of finding his friends and leaving, all the while trying to avoid the aggressors in the crowd. While waiting for his friends at the car he became uncomfortable waiting alone, and was worried he would be singled out because he had no one with him. The parking lot where they parked was extremely small and various groups were walking between the cars arguing and yelling. He decided at that point it might be best to try to find his friends and convince them to leave as soon as possible. He did not return to the club and did not interact directly with anyone; he was simply defending himself in an extremely hostile environment.
Despite overwhelming evidence from state witnesses that Michael was attacked first and without provocation, the fact that he did not continue firing, and removed himself from the immediate area as soon as he could. Michael was not offered a plea from the state. He was thus charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon causing bodily harm & sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. His Judge stated “Frankly, I think the 25-year mandatory is overly harsh based on the facts of this case, but that’s what the law requires I do and I intend to follow the law.” The officer who prepared Michael’s sentencing recommendation, recommended Michael be given probation due to her investigation. She felt that Michael would be an ideal candidate for probation, thus saving tax payers money. The state rejected her professional recommendation and pushed for the 25 years.
Michael is a good man, he is honest, he is hard working and through all of this he is our rock and confidence we need to keep fighting. He is afraid that he will miss his children grow up.
Our family just does not understand how a man who proudly fought for his country, and spent 6 years proudly serving as a U.S Airman, could lose the right to live his life for defending himself. The fact is, Michael was attacked, and he was afraid the group fighting would kill him. He fired his legally registered weapon to gain the opportunity to run, from somewhere he had the legal right to be. His attacker not only attacked him but he admitted to attacking others that night.
This sentence has destroyed our family and we hope you will sign this petition to ask Governor Rick Scott and the Clemency Board to commute the sentence of Michael Giles.
Feds Need Look No Further Than Rodney King for the Case … http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/feds-need-look-no-further…Nov 30, 2014 – Associate Attorney General Wayne Budd, who directed the federal investigation into the King beating case.
Petition · Commute the 25 Year Mandatory Minimum … https://www.change.org/…/commute-the-25-year-mandatory-…Commute the 25 Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Michael Giles … Michael’s attacker admitted he was angry that someone had interrupted his dance, and …
VOTE NOVEMBER 2014 IN MEMORY OF TRAYVON MARTIN grondamorin.com/2014/…/vote–november–2014-in-memory-of-trayvon-…Oct 2, 2014 – Reality is upon us and we are called to action!!! It is important that everyone who wishes to support the memory of Trayvon Martin and his family .