Zimmerman verdict sparks emotions and debate

Madison Fantozzi/News Director

A Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in Trayvon Martin’s death Saturday night after the six women deliberated for 16 and a half hours. It only took moments, however, for students to take to social media in an uproar about the verdict.

Martin’s brother and FIU student, Jahvaris Fulton, tweeted “Et tu, America?” following the verdict on July 13, a reference to the Latin expression of betrayal.

University students are also expressing mixed feelings.

“I’m okay with the verdict,” said Joshua Montalvan, senior chemistry major. “We don’t know what happened and our justice system is not perfect, but it’s the best in the country so I trust that [Zimmerman] is not guilty.”

Assistant Director of the College of Law’s Trial Advocacy Program and Faculty Fellow H. Scott Fingerhut agrees.

“All told, based on the facts of the case, the jury reached an appropriate verdict,” said Fingerhut. “With that said, there is much more to this case than the law.”

Zicomanii Fremont, junior economics major, said the case turned into a source of entertainment.

“There is much more to the case and the verdict than what people see on television,” said Fremont. “It goes much deeper than that and the public doesn’t always get all the facts.”

Martin’s death in February 2012 unleashed debate about racial profiling, equal justice and self-defense.

The jury had the option to consider manslaughter, but declined to convict Zimmerman of the lesser charge.

“If Zimmerman killed Trayvon for racist reasons, then I think he would deserve the death penalty,” said Montalvan. “But I feel like people use the race card too much.”

Fingerhut said the public’s reaction was fueled by a polarizing media storm.

“Law as ‘entertainment’ or ‘info-tainment’ is never a good thing,” said Fingerhut. “It’s real people’s lives that are lost and on the line.”

The Department of Justice has announced that it will look into the case further, which could lead to criminal civil rights charges. Zimmerman may also face civil lawsuits from Martin’s family.

– madison.fantozzi@fiusm.com

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