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. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    @ Deborah, 4:55 AM:
    Some of us, especially New Yorkers, remember very well the Tawana Brawley hoax and the Rev. Al Sharpton's stirring involvement in it.
    The lies of this deluded young woman were exposed in court, where they should have been, resulting in a large financial settlement.
    That is why it is good that the Trayvon Affair is going to court, regardless of the Special Prosecutor's single or multiple motivations.
    This case has become almost completely about racial prejudice. It is almost impossible to have an objective discussion with many observers.
    Had I been in that gated community that night and observed the fight and shooting, I would know much more than I do. From the edited reporting and opposing cheering sections, I know very little.
    Maybe a court can sort it all out.
    In hindsight, it would have been much better to convene a grand jury immediately, even if the ultimate decision is that Zimmerman acted completely in self defence.
    We do not know: it could actually be revealed later that Zimmerman planned to kill someone like Trayvon for months, set up the situation, and should have been tried for first-degree murder as and hate crime.
    All of this MAY come out in court, but we're still not really sure about Bruno Haupymann's guilt, in spite of his certainly being dead.
    Yes, Deborag: I remember Tawana Brawley.
    By the way, she's changed her name.

    April 12, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    "...as a hate crime," not, "...as and hate crime."

    April 12, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. basam32

    Its strange how white ppl think they are Americans...every other ethnic group has a hyphenated label such as african-american,hispanic-american etc....but white apply just say they're American instead of European-American...even the Indians are called native-americans..my problem still is black on black murder that the national news and al sharpton and jessie Jackson are afraid to touch on because racial tension gets more publicity..I think black on black murder has become norm in the black community and on some level its some how excepted

    April 12, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • raceisamyth

      No! They are called AMERICAN INDIAN or their tribe name NOT native americans! Get off your butt and go ask an AMERICAN INDIAN while you still can!

      April 26, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |

    I beleive if this had been a black man as I had heard some people say, he would have been hand cuff and arrested on the spot where he stood and took downtown and would be awaiting to go to trial some months ,zimmerman have to know what is acceptable by society, and what is not, and that is proven nationwide,and I thank the martin family for not giving up the fight for justist ,because it opens the door for so many parents who been up that path and about to go up that path,Zimmerman says it was self defense when is he going to learn? and what he now has to learn from, but one thing I know he can't escape the judgment of God it is better that that man have not been born

    April 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pete

    A SAD day for everyone involved, my heartfelt sympathy for Trayvon's family and friends. The problem – GUNS – We need better laws and regulations on them. These laws and regulations need to be similar to our motor vehicle laws, whereas people need to register them. insure them and pay taxes on them. Each and every GUN needs to be computerized and have ballistic coding inside of them that would identify the gun when shot.
    GUN LAWS are to lenient and people do not want to take responsibility for their actions. We must secure the safety of all our citizens, not just for the ones that carry guns. BETTER GUN CONTROL-SAFER COMMUNITIES!

    April 13, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bruce

    Why does the "legal correspondent" for CNN always remark that Zimmerman was "race
    profiling" when the 911 tape has the dispatcher ASKING HIM the race of the subject and he replies? PLEASE! You incite when you leave that part out!

    April 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jorge Cruz

    The more and more I hear this case on every News station and comments from people thru out the nation the more I am sickened at the racistism. As always in any case all evdience is not disclosed to the genral public till the case is finsh but this nation have so many people saying "He did this, he did that he......." If I first heard that Zimmeramn is mixed Hispanic but other people are making this whole trial white versus black crime. Ia mhispanic but I go as Hispanic not adding another other label in front of my ethnic. Even top leaders, Obama, has no right to already say guitlly since all their doing is clouding the minds of people the whole truth. I was sickened hearing a News caster crying about her son being a black man growing up. Try being a Hispanic who does not fit in with the balck or white mindsets. Way things sound if a Asian commited the crime he would be considered white since he/she is pale skinned not what ethnic they are. Grow up America and wait for the truth from the Courts to be relased and stop this Fiction thinking.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Foster Rya

    I'm having a real hard time understanding why there is even an issue of whether Zimmerman was defending himself. Why does it matter if Trayvon was fighting him and he was protecting himself? He profiled this young boy who was doing nothing wrong then hunted him down. If Trayvon was afraid and then attacked him out of fear and to protect himself, then that was Zimmerman's fault- Trayvon was standing his ground from the man that was hunting him down. Then Zimmerman killed him for protecting himself. There's nothing defensible about any of Zimmerman's behavior.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Sheila

    Where is the cousin who claimed that George Zimmerman molested her until she was 16 years old. Where is she? Please find her.

    July 17, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
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