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. Dan

    Can anyone tell me how Martin's girlfriend knew his ear piece fell out? And how did she conclude he was shoved? If his ear piece did fall out could it have been because he swung at Zimmerman? Her interpretation of the events are a prejudiced guess but the jury could (and so far has) accepted it as fact. I had an experience where some one struck my horse with a sharp instrument causing a 12 " wide and 9 " deep hole in her chest. I found her standing in a pool of blood unable to walk. A policeman arrived at least 10 minuets before the vet. He asked the vet how she was injured and she said she did it to herself. Case closed, he did not even file a report. She was standing at least six feet away from the fence and there was no blood on it nor was there even a splinter on it.The wound was so bad she had to be put down. Who knows what the intelligence of Zimmerman,s jury will be. Zimmerman's doctor will testify that his nose was broken but from some of the comments I have seen; the jury could decide he did it to himself.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kathleen

    I think it is obvious that Trayvon was defending himself and he had every right to do so. Whatever Trayvon had to do to try and save himself from this armed stalker, was in self defense. Why is it acceptable for Zimmerman to charge self defense, but not even considered a possibilityfor Trayvon? If an armed stranger was pursuing me late at night I would do everything in my power to save myself, even if it involved confronting the stalker and trying to get the weapon away from him. I believe Trayvon died because he was fighting for his life, not the other way around. It's just too convenient for Zimmerman to make that charge against a dead teenager, who also happens to be black and living in the racist south. Zimmerman is counting on that racism to influence the media and in turn, public opinion ,to get himself acquitted. As an example, Zimmerman has tried to convince the media, that it was HE, Zimmerman, screaming for help, when experts have now proven, that it is not his voice at all. ( Strangely, they don't know whose voice it is? ( gee I wonder who it could possibly be??) By calling for an arrest the prosecutor is appeasing the family and the black community, but Zimmerman will not be found guilty and will go free. If however, the victim was white and the stalker black, there would have been an immediate arrest and eventual conviction. Unfortunately, being black in America means being treated like a second class citizen; Obama is a prime example of this! Incidently, I am white and I see the inequality very clearly, thanks to the propaganda espoused daily in the media. Please allow the truth to be posted.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • WestVA

      Geee, where do I start. Ok, let's start with the scream for help. The unsolicited expert testimony will probably not be admissable and even if it is the defense will bring in its own experts that testify there simply isn't enough sample to come to a conclusion. Now lets talk about self defense. No direct evidence has been released that indicates George actually was the one that confronted Trayvon. None. And there is no direct evidence that Trayvon confronted George as well although we know one of them had to be the aggressor. The only person that knows for sure is George and I'm pretty sure he's going to stick with his account of that night. The two pieces of evidence that have not been made public are going to be critical to this case; 1. The testimony of the first few police officers that arrived on the scene and the medics that treated George and 2. The gunshot wound on Trayvon; it will speak volumes to what happened that night.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • suebon

      It is not obvious that Trayvon was defending himself. I wasn't there, neither were you. The one eye witness places Trayvon on top of and punching Zimmerman. There is no evidence that Zimmerman showed his gun, yet you claim that Trayvon knew he was being pursued by an armed stalker. The first evidence of any direct contact was provided by the girlfriend, who said Trayvon asked the guy why he was following him, then the guy asked Trayvon what he was doing in the neighborhood. Then his phone went dead, which she determined was because he was being attacked, but since she wasn't there she doesn't know. Zimmerman says he was being attacked, but since neither you or I were there we don't know, but it could certainly be the cause of Trayvon's phone going dead. The "experts" who said it wasn't Zimmerman yelling help based their opinion off of the TV replays of the 911 audio. There would have had to be multiple instances of Zimmerman saying help in those 911 tapes for the "experts" to have been able to voice match. Trayvon's family hasn't provided any audio of his voice which is smart on their part in that no one can do the same "expert" analysis on an improper sample and come to the conclusion the person yelling help wasn't Trayvon. Since there's no audio from Trayvon for them to compare the yelling help against, it's easier for people to assume it was him. The "experts" won't come out and say the voice was Trayvon's because they didn't analyze his even if improperly analyzed. Again, the one eye witness who placed Zimmerman on the ground also said Zimmerman was yelling help. There's a lot of false and overblown info floating around out there. There are only snippets of facts. Those snippets point to Zimmerman being innocent, but snippets don't show the whole picture.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ouchtime

    did you hear that in the past 48 hours 8 black people died at the hands of other black people? I WANT A FULL ARTICLE CNN A FULL DAMN ARTICLE...

    April 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rex

      Why would CNN report blacks killing other blacks (or anyone, for that matter)? That wouldn't be anything new... By the way, Corey couldn't afford to have a Grand Jury hear the case, since she knows that there would have been a great risk of the case being no-billed, and no charges brought forth. The DOJ desperately wants this case to go forward, and they will see that everything possible is done to find this guy guilty, evidence be damned. I thought Obama was supposed to end the race divide, but it has only gotten worse on is watch.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    @madtowner
    So you think this is all about guns? You contend a blockwatch volunteer shouldn't have one?
    This is why we have federal gun laws. Registration...you have to wait. If you have any felonies, in most or all states, you cannot have a gun..period.
    I've got a gun. You mean to say, if I want to be a block watch volunteer, I should relinquish my right to have a gun and simply hand it over? Your a bigger fool than Zimmerman. And I hope they fry his ass.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    No. If a person does not have the psychological makeup to own a gun responsibly, they don't need one. Where I live, we all have guns all up and down the road. We don't go around blowing the crap out of each other. Or picking fights with passerbys. You pick the wrong night for this. Trust me.

    April 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Final Judgement

      shoot responsibly

      April 11, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scottish Mama

    I willl wait for the trial and follow the facts. We will hear the 911 calls and all the facts. The police that were there will be called to the stand and will testify. If they did not believe they had the evidence they would not bring it to trial.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MAURICE

    All the comments about race is really mind blowing- Would Zimmerman have gotten out of the car to follow a WHITE kid? Probably not because he figured he belong. Trayvon in his mind didn't belong there. It's funny whenever minorities get a little bit of justice, how the majority began to talk about how unfair it is. There are many Trayvon Martins that have been gunned down and there killers never saw a courtroom. Or they were let off by a jury of there peers(majority white), when will a minority get a jury of his peers( I guess O.J. messed that up)! What if the shoe was on the other foot and Trayvon shot Zimmerman? Would it have taken 44 days to make an arrest? Racism will always live as long as people continue to skirt around it and get uncomfortable whenever it is mentioned! Dialogue and honest conversation is the key, People. Take off the BLINDERS.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. toocy

    Juggalo: I'm embarassed and ashamed that you are an American, too.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. candyrabbitt

    This entire thing is rotten. Angela Corey can put on a dog and pony show all day but she like all elected officials will take the path of least resistance when push comes to shove. With the brewing threats of violence she could do nothing else. It is a shame that any young person should end up dead but things happen. The law should apply to EVERYONE regardless of race. I do not however see any action against those who placed a bounty on Zimmerman's head which by the way is ALSO A FELONY in the state of Florida. Everyone should have equal protection under the law, so Iwant to know when Ms. Corey will be addressing this issue. I for the record am by no measure of the word racist and I am sick and tired of listening to people who consistently blame something that happened 150 years ago for their bad behavior.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • HenryB

      I believe that you are no racist since you do not appear to have any power over another race. You are, however, completely biased which is different from racism. Read your own post and see what it sounds like.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie S

      "I am sick and tired of listening to people who consistently blame something that happened 150 years ago for their bad behavior" – this is preceded by "I am not a racist" ... OK ... think that if you'd like.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • An honest opinion

      For candyrabbit: Well said. there is not one single person alive today who knew a slave. Actually, there is not one person alive today who knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone...who knew a slave. yet the modern black retoric is they have been mistreated. Does it ever cross their minds, that they themselves are to blame fot almost all of this racial profiling. It's not racial profiling, it's looking hard at the type of people (young, black hoodlems,) who commit by far the majority of violent crimes. Stop the gangs, (oh yeah, lots of money to be made there), stop the black slavery( pimps buying and selling underage girls on backpage.com, and alot of your "problems" will vanish, like most of your self rightous pity parties. Where is al tonight. Blacks killing each other over the colour on their backs, and al is nowhere to be seen. This is an attempt at railroading somebody to appease a group, that long ago gave up ,bt itself, any right it had to appesement.

      April 12, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. fingercuffs

    only get mad if a Hispanic democrat kills a black man... scream for justice in the streets....
    George Zimmerman, a democrat and a Hispanic.

    its perfectly acceptable for black people to kill black people and white people every day.
    thanks Al and Jesse for lowering the bar and raising it at other times to your own benefit and fit the racist narrative.

    carry on ...zombies..... stop thinking ... keep believing the noise and spin.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JIm

    America is now a mob rule nation.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rex

    Can a white kid walk down the streets of Harlem, south Chicago, or LA at night and feel safe? I would like to know how an upper middle class black or Hispanic family living in a gated, upper middle class neighborhood would react to a black kid in a hoodie walking alone near their house late at night, particularly if there had been a rash of burglaries in the area? Any guesses?

    April 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bubba

    Black people don't belong walking in white neighborhoods.

    April 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Patricia

    This is a travesty of justice. Anything to appease the black man is what this amounts to. What a shame – Sanford FL was afraid of the black panthers. The black panthers are thugs that won this battle. They will not win the war.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Nick

    Let us wait for the trial and get to hear all the testimony and see the evidence and case put together by the prosecutor and the defense, and see how the jury of his peers decide the outcome. People have started talking as though they wer at the scene of the crime. Enough of that. Let the legal system work.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • fingercuffs

      Nick,
      I disagree. Lets hold rallies from NY to Florida protesting a case that we do not know the complete evidence of.. this would make more sense, right? (no sarcasm)

      April 12, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
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