Overheard on CNN.com: Zimmerman charges spark emotional discussion about law and race
George Zimmerman, left, says he shot Trayvon Martin, right, in self-defense.
April 11th, 2012
07:14 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Zimmerman charges spark emotional discussion about law and race

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the February 26 shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, a Florida state attorney announced Wednesday. State attorney Angela Corey said Zimmerman had surrendered to authorities and had been arrested. As the news developed, readers engaged in powerful discussions on the live blog.

Please share your reaction in the comments area below and on CNN iReport.

Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder

Some of the conversation was about Corey's motives.

TP: "For claiming that George Zimmerman wouldn't be tried in the court of public opinion, Angela Corey seems to be running for office with that speech of hers more than prosecuting a case."

This person said an investigation is necessary.

Jeannie: "Now maybe justice can be served. Let the facts and evidence be presented in a court of law. I'm so sick of hearing people whine about race and some stupid pictures and how old they are in them. My question is, why wasn't the case properly investigated in the first place? Why did it take Al Sharpton and (Jesse Jackson) to come on to the scene to get the national attention? So he was charged and the evidence will be presented. Why anyone would be angry about this is beyond me. I'm white and I hear more white people angry as can be that he was charged ... I don't get it."

Some said they thought Corey was playing to public sentiment rather than the facts of the case.

Joyce: "I will be interested in hearing how the Corey team arrived at this charge. I. Honestly. Would. Because up until now, the facts pointed to self-defense. If he is found innocent, I hope that the mob will be satisfied. If he is found guilty, I hope I will be satisfied. The outcome should not be in any way influenced by the fact that there were so many protests and marches and statements by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It should be based on facts, and evidence, and proof. I know what I believe, but it is based on what has been released so far. I do hope that Zimmerman is not made a sacrificial lamb, in an effort to appease the mob, and that it is based on facts."

This person wants to see justice served.

John: "I'm not saying Zimmerman is automatically guilty, although personally it does look bad, but by this finally going to criminal court, justice is being served. Now let him have his day in court and let's see the truth come out, whatever it may be."

Some said they think Martin's family situation contributed to the problem.

Candace: "I knew an arrest would be coming but I think it's for all the wrong reasons. I do believe this was self-defense. But because she and all others have been afraid of riots ... they will follow through. I have heard more than one time people say, if not for Zimmerman getting out of his car that night, Martin would still be alive. But I think if he had had parents who knew how to parent, he'd still be alive. This young man had been suspended from school. He should not have been allowed out of the house and should have been doing hard labor in the house for such behavior. As a parent, if my child had ever been suspended ... you can bet your butt he would not have been walking to any store at any time whether it was 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 8 p.m. etc. He would not have been allowed to do anything!"

Some called for readers to make a truce with others.

PookieBear: "Let's have 'hug a person of another race' day. We'll spread peace and love throughout the land."

This reader was feeling skeptical about a positive outcome.

Todd:  "I don't really see too many options for a win.
The best case Zimmerman is tried fairly and found guilty. That is the best case.
Zimmerman is tried fairly and found innocent: Public Outrage
Zimmerman is tried unfairly and found guilty: Public Outrage
Zimmerman is tried unfairly and found innocent: Public Outrage and possible violence."

This commenter was outraged.

Pro Zimmerman: "Point blank this was self-defense!"

Some were outraged by the attitudes of their fellow men.

DisGusTed: "There appears to be enough evidence to bring George to trial. What I can't see is why is Trayvon, who was pursued by a total stranger, not given the benefit of the doubt that somehow he was not acting to protect himself due to fear for his life, but the actual aggressor is somehow deemed justified. In my mind this is a clear case of prejudice that many in this country still hold."

Others had some fairly nuanced views on the case.

Diane R.: "This is not going to be an easy legal case at all. I do believe that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense but I don't think using a gun to kill him was the right action to take. He should be charged for killing him without justification for the use of a lethal weapon. Zimmerman must have been ANGRY to kill him, and his ANGER was not a motive to shoot him down."

Some said they see racism.

LoriRN: "The racism displayed in the comments here is shocking to me. A man guns down and kills an unarmed teenager, who is doing nothing wrong, and not only do people think he shouldn't be charged but many think he shouldn't have even been investigated! And what if this had been your child?? I am a white woman living in the deep South, in a state with the worst history for racial atrocities and I can tell you that racism is alive and well and the comments on this site are just more proof! This case has been investigated by the Justice Department and now the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence to support a conviction of this man ... please people look deep within yourself ... just shocking."

bbegerl1: "For those of you commenting about race, it is an issue, the HUMAN RACE! Forget for a few minutes that Trayvon was black, he was an unarmed teenager who could have easily been your son, daughter, sister, brother, niece, or nephew, etc. Did Zimmerman purposely aim to kill an unarmed teen? This is only one question of probably a thousand going through not only Trayvon's parents' minds but anyone with an ounce of compassion. This incident has been center stage because of the lack of unanswered questions about the inadequate justice for this family. There is no doubt in my mind, had Trayvon been the survivor, Zimmerman's family would not have had to wait so long (40+ days) for his arrest. An arrest cannot bring back a gone too soon son, brother, friend, etc.; but it is one step in the direction toward closure for what has been a tumultuous time for a grieving family. May God continue to bless the family with strength and endurance."

The main story generated thousands of comments.

George Zimmerman charged, is in custody

Much of the discussion in the comments had to do with race relations in the United States, as evidenced by this conversation that was among the most popular on the story.

axialrespons: "Why hasn't the black community used this tragedy to address deeper rooted social problems within their race? Violence, glorified criminality and gangs are synonymous with black culture. How come no one like Al Sharpton or (the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.) or the NAACP using this as an opportunity to express concern with the state of African-Americans ... why is it always someone's fault ... why don't they address their own issues and start to change their own culture and move away from connotation of criminals?"

One person responded with a question about whether such a comment is fair.

USATheFree: "Is walking down the street while minding your own business a problem now? Or does that only apply to blacks? How in the world can THIS particular case be used as opportunity to address the 'deeper rooted social problems within their race'? Do you mean we need to tell blacks that walking down the street can be hazardous to their health now? Is that what you mean? If there is a 'deeper-rooted social problem' here, it's bigotry on the part of Zimmerman. If this particular case can be used as an opportunity to teach anyone anything, it's to stop generalizing and labeling people simply based on their race and whether or not they make you feel like they're 'up to no good.' THAT feeling on Zimmerman's part is what started it all."

This reader talked about black leadership.

Guest: "The problem I have with Al and Jesse is they do more to separate the black population from the American population. In essence they are really fostering segregation and have become the same type of people they claim to despise."

But this person mentioned issues faced by whites.

GodisGod35: "How come the white community doesn't use criminals within their own culture to address their issues such as being the most profound serial killers, embezzlers, more profound child molesters, children shooting up schools and killing innocent victims, committing murder for hire or taking out life insurance polices to kill their loved ones, even the children? Serial killers are synonymous with whites!! Why do you focus on the issues within black communities instead of focusing on our own? Because it makes you feel like you're perfect. Before you speak on a subject you barely have knowledge of you should do more research, because it's plenty of leaders who have tried to reach the young black males who are lost and killing each other."

What's your take? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Florida • Justice • Overheard on CNN.com • Race • Trayvon Martin • Trayvon Martin • U.S.
soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. WB

    Again the state bends to the black community because of fear. He will NOT get a fair shot at a trial. No one wins in this case, however we all lose when decisions are second guessed and then made to "keep the peace". This is why racism will never end because Jesse and Al do not want it to end,

    April 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen King

      We're talking Neo Nazi Florida..racism will never end down there.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tad

      I agree with what you said totally. I would hate to have my son shot or lose a close family member, but to have a large contingent of the black community up in arms taints anychance of a fair trail in my opinion. As a side note, I respect everyone, and try not to see color, but when I see large protests based on what people want to hear and not necessarily what the facts indicate..it taints MY feelings toward people of color. Is it an excuse to riot and protest?

      April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      VERY sad day for Justice in America!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Give me a break. An unarmed teenager was shot to death by someone illegally pursuing him and you are angry at Al and Jesse? Who cares about Al and Jesse? A young man is dead because of a moron with a gun! He needed to be arrested. Now let him have his day in court. The color of the victims skin is not the issue; his right to justice is.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ann

    In response to USATheFree's comment in the "story" above, I'm calling it "walking while black (WWB)." I'm wondering what's left, as driving was already an issue (DWB). Is cycling OK? Skateboarding? (Oh, probably not–punk teenagers use skateboards. ;-)) Segwaying (yes, I just verbed it)? Unicycling? Honestly...

    April 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jodi

      Ann– Unfortunately, a killer in Brooklyn Park, MN ruined bicycling. He was in a hoodie, pulled a gun and shot three people dead in front of a toddler.

      April 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jodi

    First off I do think that Zimmerman should be charged, if the evidence shows him guilty, then he should be found guilty, and if the evidence states that he is innocent, then he should be found innocent. The problem I foresee is that there is no way for him to get a fair trial, or an impartial jury. Every body from Al Sharpton to the Barak Obama has weighed in on his guilt in this tragedy.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brown

      But the truth of the matter is, even though it may not be a fair trial (whatever that is), there may have been no trial if these people (even Al and the president) did not speak up. I think THAT, would be the most unfair scenario.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sane

      World is full of judges..

      April 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jen King

    Zimmerman's defense is that Trayvon punched him and banged his head on the concrete. First of all, if someone were approaching you with a gun, would you not respond physically in some way? Did anyone give thought to the idea that maybe Trayvon was acting in self-defense and paid the ultimate price? I would like to know height and weight on both George and Trayvon. Was Trayvon even able to knock Zimmerman down and bang his head on the concrete?

    April 11, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • suebon

      I read several places that Martin was 6'2" or 6'3" and Zimmerman was under 5'9". Martin outweighed Zimmerman but being taller he should have.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sane

      Hmmm.. you want to know height and weight? So you have some fancy logic or are you an expert to judge? I am tired of this news.. Pls let the judicial system take its course.. I am tired of Nancy "dis"Grace being shown in our cafetaria..Let the judges and jury decide and lets move on pls..

      April 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jay

    This incident and recent other ones shows where our country is moving towards. It seems like when other developing countries are advancing, we as a nation are regressing. Racisim, social inequality, social apathy are at it's worst. Religious extremists want to take away womens rights. So called conservatives (who knows what they really mean by that) want to create an atmosphere of fear. Declining educational standards. Scientist/scholars are called nerds/geeks while we pray our football players. I hope people realize this is like the decline of the mighty roman empire. Get away from hatred, narrow minded thinking and crazy extremist ideas. Let America be the beacon of freedom and properity and equality that we all want

    April 11, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen King

      Well said..

      April 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brown

      sounds dreamy...lol

      April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jen King

    And hopefully they have the evidence for 2nd Degree murder. If not, then the Prosecutor is just setting him up to be acquitted, yet looking like the good guy for TRYING to prosecute. *read* Re-election.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jean Sartre

      There will be a backup charge of MANSLAUGHTER. Hence, if he gets by the 2nd Degree Murder charge, the jury will still have the option of finding him guilty on the charge of Manslaughter...

      April 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. james98332@hotmail.com

    I used to give a crap about this case...but not anymore...not after seeing the video of the black thugs (men and women) in Baltimore and what they did to that innocent white dude on St. Paddys' Day. Of course, what did Jessie or Al have to say about that little hate crime. Yep, you guessed it, we didn't hear a thing from those two ambulance chasers. In fact, after watching that video, I decided to make a nice donation to Mr. Zimmerman's defense fund. Too bad the guy in Baltimore wasn't armed with an AK47, he might have been able to take down all of that human filth!!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jean Sartre

      You gave me inspiration to give $1,000 to the American's Against Ignorance Fund...

      April 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lila

    I'm glad he was charged. I honestly thought she was going to go for manslaughter and other charges because Martin was a minor. I can imagine all the evidence she has if she's going for 2nd degree.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jean Sartre

    Let the facts and the evidence speak out clearly against or in favor of all the opinions of the "know nothings." Florida, not only being the "Sunshine State" also has a "Sunshine Law" which basically means that the entire trial will be televised, so we all can see for ourselves...

    Until that time, everything you hear and see about this case is just someone's truly uninformed OPINION.

    That said, I know that there will still be many people who will not be happy with the final verdict...

    April 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. DarkSkiesRBest

    I guess it will be another couple of months before we hear the evidence. I was surprised at the murder charge rather than manslaughter. They must have some strong evidence that refutes George's claims.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sane

    Okay, this is done.. Now NBC and CNN can you be neutral and start covering the shooting of the innocent hispanic man by a black man ? Why is Nancy Grace not talking about the guy who is mentally at a 12 year level due to a brain condition getting shot by a black man who was inside the car at the time?

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Just ... wow

      Because, if you believe in Nancy Grace, you'll only hear what she wants you to hear, see what she wants you to see. She presents the utmost in biased "journalism", and is pugnacious and unrelenting as a rabid pitbull.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Donna Bayly Shumaker

    Trayvon is gone but definitely not forgotten. He has become the face and his parents have become the voice of all the children who have been taken way too early by violence. Every parent needs an answer for their loss. Most don't get it. In this case, Mr. Zimmerman will have a chance to tell his story. I hope there is enough evidence to tell Trayvon's. I pray that Trayvon's family and friends find peace no matter the outcome!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sane

    I dont think any neutral person questions that this guy needs to be charged. The only question is that the out of town mobsters like Sharpton and unReverend should be allowed to inflate racial tension.. I think Zimmerman would have been charged even without all the drama..
    But the guy who shot in Arizona few days ago, will get away with it..I am pretty certain about it.. becoz the mobsters wont go there since the shooter is black.. That is sad..

    April 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ceomom

      Yup...You're real neutral.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. suebon

    And the circus continues.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. SpenderH

    I was glad to hear Ms. Corey say that she wants justice for George Zimmerman as well as Trayvon Martin. I hope she has the evidence to back up the charge she has bought against Mr. Zimmerman, because I have not seen evidence yet, just speculation. And most of that speculation is short-lived, like the police station video which at first was said to implicate Zimmerman but then changed to proving he had wounds on the back of his head. Or that the cries for "help" were from a young Trayvon before it was apparent that the eye-witness, "John", saw Zimmerman calling for help. There has been too much speculation in the media based on misinformation trying to convict Zimmerman.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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