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. tom

    By taking a gun, which in the community training he took last Fall was a no-no, plus not obeying the 911 respnder telling him not to pursue, Zimmerman put himself in great jeopardy (and deservedly so).

    April 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • southerner01

      Everything I have read seems to indicate that when told the police "didn't need him to do that (follow)" Zimmerman said ok and headed back to his truck, at which point Martin jumped him.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • JerseyJeff

      That is why law enforcement is a job for the police and not a watchman with a gun and no training. Vigilantism leads to mistakes.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      Zimmerman was not on "active duty" as a neighborhood watch captain at the time of the shooting, according to his version of events. He says he was on an errand, which gives him every right to carry a concealed handgun per his permit. Of course he has the right to carry all the time, even if he was on duty, it just would have been a no-no.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      When Martin started running from the "creepy" guy, Zimmerman (foolishly) started following on foot. It was obvious from the audio of the 911 call that Zimmerman tried to follow him on foot. There was wind noise on the mic of his phone, he was breathing hard, and he was whispering. Once the 911 operator said "We don't need you to do that", Zimmerman replied "ok", and within 20 seconds the wind noise stopped, his breathing returned to normal, and he stopped whispering. It was clear at this point that Zimmerman did not know where Martin had gone, and the sounds from the 911 call indicate he had stopped pursuing him. The media has been spreading a lie that he continued to pursue him after being told not to, but there is no indication that he did. Zimmerman says that Martin came back to him, and there is no evidence or testimony to the contrary. Anything you think you "know" is just a guess.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      No he continued to follow. The dispatcher told him to go to the mailboxes and wait for the cops to let them in and he said to have them call him instead. That's how the call ended. Martin had no idea who the crazy guy was who was following him according to his girlfriend who was on the phone with him. Zimmerman created the situation, that is why he is being charged.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Originalcurl

      Hey Tom please google the name Jimma Reat and see what happened when he listened to 911.Every situation is different and in Jimma's case it cost him his life.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      lila, you say that like it is an established fact and from what I have seen it isn't. Maybe the prosecutor has witnesses who saw Zimmerman continue to follow Martin, but they haven't announced that to the public yet. I think you are assuming Zimmerman continued to follow him, and that is a reasonable assumption, but I don't know of any proof that he did.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      According to the 911 call from Zimmerman he followed. According to Zimmerman he wanted to be called instead of meeting the cops by the mailboxes. According to Martin's girlfriend Zimmerman approached Martin. Martin's body was found off the path in someone's backyard. These are known facts so far.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • JerseyJeff

      How can it be self-defense when his actions led to the situation?
      If he called from his car and waited for the police to show up, a 17 year old kid would be walking around and driving his parents nuts, like most 17 year old boys do.
      I don't think he went with the intention of shooting him or even wanted to, I think a charge of Manslaughter would have made a lot more sense and much higher chance of conviction. George took actions that caused a confrontation where an unarmed 17 year old was gunned down.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Peter

    So, let me get this straight...Trayvon was subject to bad parenting and because parents didn't ground him for being suspended, it was their fault he was shot. Really Candace? So, if you go outside when you shouldn't, you are fine with other people shooting you! Really?

    April 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stormy

    His lawyer says "Nobody wanted Treyvon Martin to be prejudged ... i ask not to prejudge George Zimmerman" – give me a break! There is a large difference between the two, the main being Treyvon is dead because George Zimmerman prejudged him by his hoodie and skin color! Anyone who looks at the facts of this case and says the shooting was in self-defense is delusional!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • southerner01

      George Zimmerman didn't even know what race Martin was until the dispatcher asked him. Then he had to look and said "he looks black". How can it be racial if he didn't even know what race he was when he called?

      April 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      I don't know if it was self-defense or not, but I have not seen evidence that it wasn't. All I have seen is a lot of speculation and a rush to judgement against Zimmerman, which is mostly fueled by the media's misrepresentation of the people and the events.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • 46323

      southerner01, in almost all the calls Zimmerman made to 911, when asked the race of the susp icious person, he always said black. Now if you do not consider this racial profiling, and put it down to just merely coincidence, you are not thinking in a cognitive manner.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kim

    I'm glad they arrested this man when advise by the police not to follow this youth this man still took it apon himself to stalk and attack that child even though he was advise not to several times there was no self defense he just stalked and killed that child. I glad they arrested that murder.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      He was not "advised not to several times". I wonder if you have even listened to the 911 tape or just the media hype. When Martin started running, Zimmerman started following on foot. It was obvious from the audio of the 911 call that Zimmerman tried to follow him on foot. There was wind noise on the mic of his phone, he was breathing hard, and he was whispering. Once the 911 operator said "We don't need you to do that", Zimmerman replied "ok", and within 20 seconds the wind noise stopped, his breathing returned to normal, and he stopped whispering. It was clear at this point that Zimmerman did not know where Martin had gone, and the sounds from the 911 call indicate he had stopped pursuing him. The media has been spreading a lie that he continued to pursue him after being told not to, but there is no indication that he did. Zimmerman says that Martin came back to him, and there is no evidence or testimony to the contrary. Anything you think you "know" is just a guess.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Stormy

    Excuse Candace, she's an idiot. Evidently SHE had some "bad parenting" judging by her words.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JerseyJeff

    I hate to see the possible racial aspect effect this case. I think the racial profiling angle to this case is tough to make for a couple of reasons there had been break-in's in the past matching the description, he didn't say or do anything that made it able to be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt"
    I do think we are overlooking the fact that a man on Neighborhood WATCH tried to be a police officer and handled the situation in a way where he shot a young man that was doing nothing wrong at all.
    It is not self-defense when you run into a situation where he admittedly perceived as a 'questionable character' and felt dangerous enough to call the police and was told to stand down.
    That is the definition of a vigilante and that is intolerable in modern society.
    I am not sure if 2nd Degree Murder was the right choice for the charge, I think manslaughter would have been more appropriate and make for an easier conviction.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KE'


    April 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      And what would say if he had stood down, and then their were break ins.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • southerner01

      You claim it is about justice, but you have already decided he's guilty. You want revenge, not justice.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I hope I'm wrong. But I still feel, they were the only two there. And after Martin was slain, Zimmerman took Martins deceased hand and manually transferred Martins prints to his 9mm, "to give the appearance of a struggle". That would be the same difference if you placed a knife in Martin's hand "just after he died". Dirty. Real Dirty!

    April 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • JerseyJeff

      Where did you hear all that about a cover up?

      April 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • southerner01

      Ooohhh,conspircay theory. Any proof, or even a shred of evidence? My theory is that Martin was a mass murdering baby eater who just happened to cross an armed person and got shot. I equally have absolutely no evidence, but hey, this is the internet so that doesn't matter.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nunya

    Appeasing the public outcry, an arrest was made. The day in court will come, and depending upon the facts of the case, may or may not be found guilty. Either way, there is a loss on both sides. If found innocent, he is still tried in the court of public opinion and there will be outcry's of favoritism, racism and protests with damages and injuries.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. good luck zimmerman

    The hard part will be getting a "fair trial". This will be tried in Florida, I seriously doubt they will find a jury who can be impartial. The racial make up of the jury will also be a great point of contention... Zimmerman will not receive a fair trail in Florida, he will be convicted. This will probably have to go a long way in the appealate courts before Zimmerman actually gets tried based on evidence and not on public opinion.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      Agreed, had the shooter been black the stand your ground would prevent any charges.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • JerseyJeff

      You want people in your neighborhood on watch with no training and packing a gun and confronting "suspects"?
      When I was 17 and some older guy came looking to have me stop and talk I would have said, "hell no! You're not a cop!"
      His taking it to the next level from Neighborhood WATCH to 'wannabe cop' vigilante is the crime and he made a mistake and killed an innocent kid because he isn't a professional.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |


    April 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jacksonville Schmo

    That poor boy started a fist fight with a man carrying a gun. That man may go to jail, but the fighter is dead. How sad is that?

    April 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Poor

    Poor George is just a sacrificial lamb to the kneegrow devils.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      I agree with you 10,000 percent. The blacks are out for blood. They have a black president and Eric Holder. They will get their way. It doesn't matter what the facts are. It doesn't matter what actually happened. The black community wants revenge so that is what the Obama family will give to their people.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      Racist much?

      April 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bobbb

    Believe me I do get the race thing. I would not want to ake up any morning much less every morning being black. the looks from everyone are telling. the reactions are seldom flattering. but I believe Zimmerman shot treyvon in self defense unrelated to his following a suspected neighborhood trowler, even though they were the same person.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rich

    Typical right wing racism.....plain and simple

    April 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
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