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. clifton

    well to me george saw a black youth,the complex had break-in,and he want to be a hero,and play cop ,so he killed travon and thought he would get away with it like the cops do and save the day,one problem your not a cop george

    April 11, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rich

    Florida must have all or most of the racists...........self defense? yea right...Florida needs better schools so maybe some can get more than a 5th grade edjamacathun...

    April 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D

    I'm going to let the facts play out in a court of law. Hun, I don't KNOW what the facts are, but the eyes are on them, so I still have just enough trust in our judicial system to believe with this many eyes, they will end up doing what they should.

    (IF you don't have that, just what do you have? Hearsay and your own shotgun? Ummm..)

    April 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nemuel Major

    As a black 19 year old male in America, I think its ridiculous how much we have to watch our backs. My entire life I've been warned not to do this or act that way because I might get shot or beaten by some white person or police officer even if I wasn't doing anything wrong. I cannot comment on this case because I wasn't there but I live in Florida and i'm always being watched when i enter stores and walk around my own neighborhood. I do know that black males do get profiled a lot, and its really not enjoyable. it may not be the 1950's anymore but its still not completely safe to walk around in the south at night because people do misjudge you and interpret certain actions as aggressive or malevolent.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • basam32

      As a blackman I'd like to ask where is the national outcry for black on black murders..thirteen shot in 6 hours in Chicago,where was Al Sharpton or jessie Jackson.Two killed at a funeral in Miami still no outcry,no marches,no Cnn.seems like the only time its important is when its somehow racial

      April 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • WestVA

      I'd worry less about white people and police officers and more about your own race. It is a fact you are more likely to be killed by your own race than any other. And that is exactly what others are saying on these posts; why aren't black leaders just as concerned about black on black killings? I can answer that easily; there is no glory or money in that. If you don't like being profiled why don't you start to speak out about what is going on in your own race; demand leaders of the African American community to start standing up in public to condem the actions committed by members of their own race.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SpenderH

    Has Martin's girlfriend's statement been released to the public yet? I see a lot of mention of it, but I have not been able to find it. Was it only given to the police? I would like to read her account in its entirety. If anyone knows where to find it please post it here. Thanks!

    April 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      yes, it's been in the media for weeks. watch a recap tonight on CNN when they do the timeline they play the audio.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      All I can find is "He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man. I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run.”

      “Trayvon said, ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.”"

      There must be something more to her account.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      What is confusing about that?

      April 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      I didn't say it was confusing. I'm just saying she must have more to say than that. Zimmerman's 911 call lasted over 4 minutes, and then it was another 1-3 minutes until the gunshot, and all we have heard from the girlfriend was a few sentences.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      No actually it was only less than 2 minutes before the first 911 call from a neighbor.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      It was 7:11pm when George called 911. At 49 seconds into the call Zimmerman says Martin was looking at him. The call lasted until 7:15pm. Martin's girlfriend says the call was dropped at 7:16pm. So there should be 4 minutes of the incident that the girlfriend can provide information about, from the time Martin saw Zimmerman watching him until her call ended.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      You wrote it, she said he was being followed and she told him to run. He said no and that's when he walked down the path to get away from him. At that point Zimmerman was int he car. From Martin pov he was being stalked by some crazy guy that's why he was looking at Zimmerman. So he went down a path to get away. Zimmerman got out of the car to follow that's when he got off the phone. You wrote that the call dropped at 7:16, that's about the same time the first 911 call came from a neighbor. It all happened within a minute or so. Keep in mind Zimmerman said "they always get away" so it would seem he was trying to stop Martin from leaving until the cops came, why else would he follow? Martin was trying to get away from him thinking he was some crazy guy. It seems you are grasping on to nothing spender those are the events mostly given by Zimmerman in his own words.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      How would Zimmerman catch up to a 6'2" athletic 17 year old who is (perhaps) running for his life, has a head start, and only has 400 feet to go to get to the town house where he is staying? From the time Zimmerman saw Martin take off running (2:07 into his 911 call), and tells the 911 operator that he ran off (2:39 into the call), Zimmerman stayed on the phone for another 84 seconds (He finished with a "Thanks" at 4:03 into the call). Martin only had to walk 3.4 miles per hour, a comfortable walking pace, to make it to his town house before Zimmerman even got off the 911 call. Does that sound like Zimmerman had time to chase him down and confront him? Really? Check my facts. You can measure the distance as I did on Google Earth, and listen to the actual 911 call on youtube. Seriously. Look at the facts.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Before this thread reaches 57 pages long like the other thread (people tripping over people), I'm not a legal authority by any means.
    There is a time honored symbol of the legal system in this country. It features a woman in a flowing gown holding a balance scale. If you look a little further you will also see she is wearing a blindfold. There's a reason she has that blindfold, and as a good assignment tonight, let's find out in the next few days, why exactly she has this, and what we as blogger aquaintences can share in a positive note to each other, regarding this case.
    Were doing nothing except hurting each other (not good). Thanks.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fort Hoodie

      She's wearing a blindfold because justice is blind? 🙂

      April 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just ... wow

      Seems like nowadays Justice should have her scales and blindfold removed and replaced with a cheap newspaper or a direct internet link to comment sections especially. It's the court of biased sensationalistic media and public opinion, don't you know it. Sad.

      I am neutral, as I seem to be among minority that realizes we cannot possibly know even a fraction of the facts, no matter what the media is trying to ram down our throats. I truly hope the truth comes to light when Mr. Zimmerman faces your judicial system and he pays for any wrongs he is found guilty of.

      April 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    This whole thing is racisit, if it had been a black killing a white, he'd have been arrested that night, but now him being arrested is only because of the public and political pressure. There is NO way Zimmerman can or will receive a fair trial. No matter who you are or where you live in this country you have already made up your mind on this case. The "special" proscuter is playing for the public. Either way it ends, justice WILL NOT be served.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tad

      Totally agree Jack! He cannot get a fair trial. If any of you have every served on a jury, there are lots of personal feelings brought to the table that have nothing to do with the trial and the evidence. Was on one in January where we were told sympathy could not be the determining factor. The man on trial was totally NOT at fault, but one person wanted to give the other person money for her pain and suffering, even though he was NOT at fault. This trial is to satisfy racial anger and if he is found not guilty by Florida law, it will be "racially" motivated per the public....it's a no win situation.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Juggalo 6

    This is nothing more than a case of a prosecutor that was going to find a way to charge him with something to uphold her public image. She does not care if he is convicted or not. She brought the charges so she feels she did her job. This is just the beginning or the erosion of our rights. Now any thug wanna be will attack people at will and there will be nothing you can do about it but let them attack you. This case says that you can no longer defend yourself or your family in America. It is sad that they charged this man only because of the public outrage caused by the media and not the facts in the case. The case does not even fit the guidelines of second degree murder in Florida. Obama probably promised her a spot in his administration if she brought the charges. The American political system is a wreck. Today, because of this prosecutor, I am embarrassed and ashamed to be an American.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Juggalo 6

    The media circus of a press conference at 6 pm prime time is more proof that this was nothing but a sham. This prosecutor is doing nothing but campaigning for office. Because of all the bias media attention this case has received, there is no possible way this man will get a fair trial. Shame on you Obama. it's a shame that you said to use restraint and not rush to judgement in the Ft. Hood case but you personally rushed to judgement for political gain in this case. Shame on you!!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • 46323

      What the hell? Obama was asked about this at a press conference he was giving that was TOTALLY UNRELATED and he answered it...ans expressed condolences to the family. What did you expect him to? Cut your stuupid Obama bashing and get back to the topic, you dolt!

      April 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ♚Mmmmm♛

    ….Book’em Danno…dah! na-na-na-non-nah!
    dah! na-na-na-non-nah! non-naaaaaaah???

    April 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Fort Hoodie

    I'm curious about this: How come the shooter in the Fort Hood (Nidal Hasan) who opened fire on people in broad daylight hasn't been brought to trial after 2 1/2 years?? I'm sure the families of those people would like some justice too?

    April 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • 46323

      The difference is, he was arrested and in custody...duh.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Madtowner

    I think this issue is NOT about race, black or white....I think the issue is about our ridiculous gun-laws in this country. An individual who is assigned as a captain of a neighborhood watch should not have/carry a gun..period. He/she is not a cop!!!! Why did the neighborhood residents allow him to carry a gun in the first place? If that person shoots somebody, he/she should be held responsible and face justice.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rmack

    I live in a gated community in Florida & we have neighborhood watch volunteers. They are not supposed to be armed in any way, not even pepper spray. Why? So things like this don't happen. They are supposed to patrol, watch, & report suspect activity to the cops. Zimmerman didn't adhere to the role of a watch volunteer, he purposely took a gun with him on patrol. He refused to follow the directives of the 911 operator. He had no business confronting anyone, he's not a cop! Police officers are trained in the use of appropriate force, not just handed a gun. In the end, he is responsible for the death of this boy.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpenderH

      Zimmerman doesn't claim to have been "on patrol" that night. He said he was running an errand, so he didn't purposely take his gun on patrol (according to his account). There were no "directives" from the 911 operator, just a statement that the police "didn't need him to do that [follow Martin]" and Zimmerman replied "OK" and there is no evidence that he continued to follow Martin after that. I have also seen no evidence that Zimmerman "confronted" Martin. Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. I'm just trying to point out that your post has several un-proven statements in it.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      Spender you sound confused. The 911 call from Zimmerman, he said he was following in his own words, he wouldn't go meet the cops at the mailboxes-again in his own words. Martin's girlfriend heard Zimmerman approach(you just wrote that) You are the one without proven statements.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • 46323

      Spender, the evidence that Z continued to follow Trayvon is that TRAYVON IS DEAD!!! Miss that little sticking point, did you? Jesus God, use your bean, man!

      April 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • WestVA

      @lila/46323 – What evidence PROVES (beyone a reasonable doubt remember) he was the one that confronted Martin? It is not unreasonable to believe that Martin ended up confronting Zimmerman as Zimmerman has claimed. So far there has been no direct evidence to prove otherwise. Anything Martin's girlfriend says has to be taken with a grain of salt, she is a biased witness and a poor one at that. How does one determine who approached who over the phone? How does one determine who pushed who over the phone? I'm willing to bet Zimmerman's attorney will tear her apart on cross examination and will make any testimony she gives worthless. 46323, it seems you are the one not using your "bean".

      April 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • lila

      You mean anything Zimmerman says should be taken with a grain of salt. Why would her testimony be doubted? he said they always get away, he followed, he didn't go meet the cops to let them in like the dispatcher suggested. the girlfriend's testimony only fills in the gaps of an obvious sequence on events. He did not want Martin to get away, that's Zimmerman's own words! Martin was trying to get away from him, again, those were Zimmerman's own words.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ♚Mmmmm♛

    neighborhood watch and its civic association just can start preppin' the liability wallets....

    April 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • 46323

      If their members keep playing Dirty Harry, they're gonna need to.....

      April 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. N Tyler

    The state didnt bend to nothing if he was a white i would had said the same thing.What this about is a innocent child being kill.This race bs needs to stop.White have been dogging use for a longtime you get it there are still meeting in small towns louisiana kkk meeting when its going to stop.

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

      what's the difference between the KKK and the Black Panthers, if there was a united white people fund it'd be considered racisit, yet there's one set up for blacks, the races between white and black are almost balanced out. all murders are hate crimes no matter what color the people are. our government and people keep saying we need to come together yet our own government keeps putting barriers in the way such as hate crime laws, that in its self segerates races, religions, everything. it's hate no matter how it's looked. the fact is, Zimmerman should not have been charged, the facts as they stand now it appears self defense, the call to the GF should be taken with a grain of salt, she wants to see zimmer in jail cause he killed her boyfriend, her druggie, vandalizing boyfriend. BTW if it where me I'd have called the police seeing someone walking thru my neighborhood when it's 85deg, with 100% humidity wearing a long sleve hoodie. There is no way if zimmer could have known that all Tra had was snapple and skittles. I'd like to know how far from his vehicle this happened, that will tell if he was infact headed back to his SUV, and Tra came to him.Either way it's all BS from start to end. Justice WILL NOT be served

      April 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • WestVA

      If I were you I'd be more concerned about my lack of grammer skills than what white people are doing. It sounds more like you are holding yourself back......

      April 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
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