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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    @108. Just ... wow
    April 11th, 2012 10:54 pm ET
    Do me a favor. Do not rattle your sabre about bias journalism, and leave Nancy Grace's name clear out of the equation. Casey Anthony is old news. Grace has enough pressure for 10 people. You don't have a clue how that would be, so cram it.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. An honest opinion

    Well, another political carrer launched on the back of an innocent (it appears) man from Florida. good luck with your senate race corey. You were too cowardly to bring it to a grand jury, meaning you have no evidence, but i'll bet a dollar to a dime, she has promises from high up...get a conviction, put Zimmerman away any way you can, and get elected. And jessie and al can crawl back under their for-profit race rock. Al Sharpton is one of the ten most racist people on the planet, and has done more than any person alive, to destroy race releations. How come this for-profit racist NEVER say's a word about black gangs. Oh, al, remember Twana Brawley, or whatever that liars name was? Remember that?Yeah, Al Sharpton cares all right...about himself.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Deborah

      Well stated and true! I am sure that MOST people have forgotten the "false" charges brought by "Twana Brawley" and the racist, (yes very much so!) Al and Jesse have done their job, to bring hate, anger and death threats from the likes of the NBPP, nothing done about that, put a bounty on someone's head, is A-OK, or Spike Lee, giving out an address that he believed to be Zimmermans and was wrong to do so...he put yet more people in danger. The death is tragic, but IMHO I think there is much more to this story. Why wait over a MONTH to bring this to light? Why hasn't ANYONE said a word about the white boy set on fire? Shortly after that, 2 young college men. one white, one black murdered? Cop car shot 6 times near the location of the Trayvon shooting.. Something is ROTTEN in FL! This has been, and again IMHO turned into a political showcase.......and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out WHO is behind that!

      April 12, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Godis#1

      Ok so we want to get the Black Panthers and a bounty on Zimmerman we cant do that without getting on the KKK who actively on a regular basis look for anyone who is not white to beat and kill so what is the real difference. Black Panthers are seeing out one individual as oppose to the KKK who seek a every race that is not White.Think about it.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I think CNN should seriously consider erecting a hot dog stand for wery bloggers. I'm hungry.
    Forget the shooting for a moment. Whats another way Martin could of been handled?
    I would of sicked my peekapoo on him. Doesn't matter how fast he'd run. Little bi tch knows how to "stand her ground". Worst case scenario...fang marks.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. bigwilliestyles

    The U.S. Const.I.tution says that the people have the right to prayer,so the people prayed; it says they have the right to peti.tion for redress, and the people pet.I.tioned; it says the people have a right to assemble, so the people gathered; it says we have the right to free speech, so the people spoke. And when the people were finished praying, pet.I.tioning, assembling and giving voice that was heard and amplified through a free press, a criminal was put where he belongs, in jail. Power to the people!

    April 12, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Godis#1

      AMEN to the Power of Prayer.Gods justice is the only truce justice. Even if Zimmerman doesn't get convicted his reputation is destroyed this will follow him for the rest of his life. Just like Amy Fischer.Casey Anthony,OJ Simpson etc.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    So why didn't Zimmerman invest in a tazer? $300 cheaper than a little toy 9mm. Think about it.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • JerseyJeff

      Could have saved himself a lot of trouble carrying the Tazer instead of the handgun.

      April 12, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. nowhiteinvolved

    I'm a white man, and I'm married to a black woman. I don't have a racist bone in my body, and I love all people. I just don't understand why the media and even some comments here still make this a black and white issue. So many people are hell bent on turning this into a white man murdering a black teenager, but that isn't the case at all. The media is very much at fault for making this white vs black to make the story as volatile as possible. It is a sad tragedy that the young man lost is life, and any real human being should be able to see that. This case should be tried in a court of law, not in the media. The media should be ashamed of trying to stir up racial tension between white and black people just to create more news.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • JerseyJeff

      This case from it's start had racial question swirling around it and of course that makes for better news sound bites.
      I tend to think George did not act out of racism, at least enough to be proven in a court, but he did confront an innocent kid who is dead now.
      Sounds like a clear case of Manslaughter in my opinion.

      April 12, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. An honest opinion

    All of this is nothing but sad. where were the "proscuters" when Spike Lee put out the wrong address by "mistake", and an elderly couple had to run for their lives? And how 'bout the bounties put out by The New Black Panther Party. That is a felony in Florida, as in every state. Is madam proscuter going to bring charges here? Well? She "claims" to be after justice. If she is, she is in the minority(no pun intended), because MOST ALL proscuters care less about justice than the courts in China do. No, their only agenda is moving up the ladder to slurp at the public trough,and avoid working a real job. I honestly wonder what our so called President promised her. If she takes a high position in the DOJ later, lets impeach Obama and Holder. A proscuter's job is not to appease for-profir racists, it's to protect the innocent. And Martin, sadly, doesn't look real innocent. Had a thug background, has anyone at all looked into his gang affiliations? Haven't heard a thing about that from jessie and al.It does appear he looked for and enjoyed trouble. And the person who used Google Earth to find out EXACTLY if poor little(6'2") trayon could have made it to the townhome where he was staying while on suppension from school...hit the nail right on the head. All trayvon had to do, was go home. Instead, HE turned around, looking for trouble. He found it. He died.Stuff like that happens. Moral to story, don't go LOOKING for trouble, and there is a great chance it won't find you. I am sick and tired of these race baiting "people" stirring up trouble where none exists. Madam proscuter...when can we expect charges on the people who PUBLICLY placed a BOUNTY on Zimmermans head??? Or, is that not a crime worthy of such an august pressence as your's. You should be ashamed, but that is impossible for politicians, isn't it?

    April 12, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • scorpio6114

      Very well said "An Honest Opinion". What if that elderly couple had been killed? Spike Lee would have made a movie of it, to profit from it. And, What charges would he have gotten?

      April 12, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. dh

    It's not self defense if you follow someone around to provoke a fight and then shoot them when they turn on you. Zimmerman was looking for a fight and way to ready to use his gun. The only reason it's not 1st degree murder is because he didn't know his victim . . . which of course suggests it's a hate crime. Keep your gun home.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Resolute Voice

      Zimmerman didn't follow Martin. He was waiting for the police to show up and said he wasn't going to follow. It's on the transcript. He had lost sight of him after Martin ran away toward the back entrance to the complex and was so nervous about the kid he wouldn't give his full address to the 911 dispatcher.. And of course Zimmerman broke his own nose and hit the back of his head on the cement himself all as an alibi for muder. I'm wondering whether Martin was worried about being caught doing something. There should be a video from the convenience store to review too. This case is going to be a BIG issue in the November election. People are mad that Obama stuck his nose in it and Zimmerman is getting railroaded. IF better forensic evidence that is believable comes out, that will be different. Right now, Zimmerman should not have been arrested and the judge may dismiss the charges because of the Stand Your Ground Law. Then Holder can stick his nose in it all and prosecute for a hate crime and raise the public heat still further. Ridiculous. .

      April 12, 2012 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      If the witness closest to the crime, "John", who was interviewed by Fox 13 in Orlando on the day after the shooting as seen here http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/seminole_news/022712-man-shot-and-killed-in-neighborhood-altercation , is to be believed, Zimmerman was calling for "help" several times before resorting to using his firearm. Doesn't sound like he was too quick to use force to me.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      If the witness closest to the crime, "John", who was interviewed by Fox 13 in Orlando on the day after the shooting as seen here http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/seminole_news/022712-man-shot-and-killed-in-neighborhood-altercation , is to be believed, Zimmerman was calling for "help" several times before resorting to using his firearm. Doesn't sound like he was too quick to use force to me...

      April 12, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I don't understand. The wife and I had group self defense training by four judo/karate black belts 25 years ago. I really don't need a gun.
    And that's what pushes my buttons and upsets me to no end. The whole thing was "preventable". Get it? Avoidable. Alternate measures could of been used to subdue Martin if needed, without having to kill him.
    Good Night everyone. And say a little prayer for leeintulsa who passed away yesterday at the age of 44.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Resolute Voice

      The tragedy is that if Trayvon's parents had kept a better eye on their son when he kept getting suspended, he wouldn't have been in Sanford FL, and he'd still be alive today. Where was the father and the fiance that night? Why was Trayvon home without them? Who was keeping an eye on what this boy was doing while on suspension – his third suspension and a long one? And when the father and his fiance came home from an evening out, and Trayvon wasn't there, they didn't go looking for him. They presumed he was at his cousin's house some 10 miles away, just left a phone message and went to bed. How would he have gotten 10 miles away? A second car? A ride from someone? Why would you go to bed when your son is missing?

      April 12, 2012 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Eyes Open Citizen

    The black community wants JUSTICE? In a pig's eye! They want Zimmerman hung plain and simple. Notice the lack of condemnation from anyone in the black community for the $10K BOUNTY put forth by the New Black Panther party for Zimmerman dead or alive? The national news media was "predicting" an arrest would avert street riots????? Oh yeah, this has "justice" written all over it and the liberal media is doing their normal: pandering to blacks.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    You know? I did pull a judo move on a friend when I was about 15. Almost tore his arm out of it's socket, just outside screwin around. I brought him to tears. I felt pretty awesome. About a year later he was bicycling to another side of town to see his girlfriend, wearing black clothing, cut in front of an oncomming car doing about 50. It dragged him about 300 feet and killed him instantly. That changed my life forever.
    The moral of the story is that life is too short. Don't waste it on trying to be better than somebody else.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Donald in CA

    Angela Corey is doing what she was elected to do, prosecute criminals and killer george is a criminal of the worst kind. Blacks better go to the polls in November with more vigor then in 2008. The right wing of this country would like to eliminate people of color except those they need to work in the fields. This is what they mean when they say they are taking their country back.

    April 12, 2012 at 2:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. James

    Angela Corey seems to be little more than a big fat pig that is both obnoxious and rude.

    April 12, 2012 at 6:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. zodiac

    Step 8: one of 12 jurors think there is reasonable doubt. and Z is set free. What a waste of tax payers money.

    April 12, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Godis#1

      Well if it was your child shot face down in the street what would u do. I know let the justice system handle it right how long ago was Trayvon shot right.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. zodiac

    The special prosecutor is a typical ignorant government employee...... Talking out her fat ass.. With that smile like she thinks shes going to be invited to all the parties in the ghetto for doing this and gonna be betting some form all the homies.. lol

    April 12, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom

      Yes, you could see she loved her 15minutes of fame.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
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