Transcript for 'This Week' Panel: Zimmerman Verdict
And here now for more on the verdict is dan abrams, pierre thomas, the editorial page editor, paul, and tavis smiley of pbs. No surprise to you, you said this all the way, the prosecution didn't make the case. That's right. You look at the legal question, the question was, was there reasonable doubt about the moment that george zimmerman shot trayvon martin? And the question was, did george zimmerman reasonably believe that great bodily injury was going to be inflicted? There was a lot of evidence that trayvon martin had beaten george zimmerman. What led up to that is a separate question. But the legal question was only what was going on in george zimmerman's mind at the moment he did that. And was there reasonable doubt as to what he believed. When you picture it that way, and talking about just that moment he shoots, and the amount of evidence there was that george zimmerman had been beaten by trayvon martin, it was difficult to see how the prosecution was going to win this case. So that gets to the question of did they overreach? Well, the justice department is looking at that very issue in terms of whether a civil rights case can be brought. In terms of the prosecutors, a lot of legal scholars are going to look at the case and say they should have gone for a lesser charge. But as you look at the case, you have what took place in the court which had to deal with the law, but the court of public opinion is where this thing is exploding. Many in fact african-american community wondering about one single issue, which was trayvon martin singled out, when at the time of day, between 7:00 and 8:00 at night, midnight, not 2:00 a.M. In the morning, a reasonable period to be walking down the street. No report of a crime. That is the issue that many african-americans -- and that's the broad question, but given the prospect of a justice department investigation, clearly it's open right now, but the bar is very high, they're going to have to show that the violence was motivated by racial prejudice, not an accident, not negligence, not self-defense. Bar is extremely high, but the justice department will be under intense pressure to do something. Can they resist it? I would hope they will. I think it would be seen by a lot of the country as a case of double jeopardy. This is not -- it's not as if this didn't get an extensive trial. The state threw everything they had at him for a year and a half. The judge in many of the rulings tended to be sympathetic. They gave the option of manslaughter, and couldn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. I think you cannot say that tray von martin didn't have representation in this case. Do you agree? I disagree. I think this is for many americans just another piece of evidence of the contempt that this nation often shows and displays forck men. In just a matter of weeks, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the march on washington, and the wonderful i have a dream speech. In that speech, the one line, not much else, but that line, i want my children to one day live in a nation where they will not be junked by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. George zimmerman knew nothing of his character, only his color. Something is wrong, 50 years after the march on washington, while the voting rights act is being gutted, speaking of the justice department, what they'll dobout that. Something is wrong when he was racially profiled -- that is a big debate to have. But that wasn't the question in the courtroom, was it? I think what happens is, if you go to a barer shop or beauty salon, prior to the trial, i don't have the scientific data, but I live and work in a black community, but you couldn't find a majority of african-americans who believed it was going to end differently. They were hoping for something difference. Could it have ended differently? Are there mistakes, yeah. Should they have shown minor inconsistencies as opposed to effectively forcing him to testif yeah, there was a mistake. Maybe they overcharged here, they probably did. Would it have made a difference? No. With regard to the federal investigation. Yes, there will be a federal investigation. They will publicly discuss it, and there will not be charges filed. The civil rights decision will not file. Because they can't win? They won't win, and they know that. Now there are two separate questions, and it's important to distinguish them. One is a broad societal right and wrong, and what is wrong with our society. And that is a fair qn to ask. But that is a different question than talking about what happened in that courtroom. Because if you watch the trial every day the way that I did, you lose the sort of big picture and get very focused on the little picture. But respectfully, the problem is every time we get to the nexus, and I agree there are two separate issues, but every time we get there, we never accept that race is real, color will get you killed. And every time we have these cases, and it's a case by case situation, but somebody can explain why this person got off, was not found guilty, and we have dead black men. What do they do beyond the justice department investigation? We saw the president step in at the beginning of the case. What now? We will have to have a broader conversation about race. It's often discussed, but never fully put on the table. Even though you have an african-american president, and an attorney general who said in an interview he had been profiled himself which is going to have to deal with the issue, this problem of how black men are viewed. Conversations we had interviewing educated black females, two-parent households who teach their children, young black males, when you go into a convenience store, do not put your hands in your pockets, never wear a hoodie. Be careful what you say and how you say it. It's 2013, it's fascinating we're having that conversation. And if george zimmerman hadn't gotten out of that car at night. True. But you can't try social policy in an image case. It's difficult to do that, and it causes injustice to the individuals in the courtroom. I think we have the debate, we're having a huge debate in new york city about stop and frisk. The policy of stopping people who are suspected of carrying weapons. That is going on in a court of law. There's a case against it. And it's going on in the larger debate. But when our children are forced to surrender their life choices before they ever know their life chances, our democracy is threatened. Any chance this will lead to review of stand your ground laws in the states? This wasn't a stand your ground case, waived that, it became a standard self-defense case. Are people going to talk about it? Yes. Are they going to point to the case and say this is the example of stand your ground? No. George, one interesting point, is the system capable of answering a question about what's in someone's mind? Did the actions of zimmerman, for example, his views on race, seep into how he responded once he encountered trayvon martin? That may be the question the system couldn't address. I want to hear from the jurors. We don't know whether these jurors believed george zimmerman or not. What we do know, at least as it appears to me, you can stand your ground unless you're a black man. We don't know that. It appears to me and many other persons in the country, you can stand your ground unless you are a black man. George zimmerman was allowed to stand his ground, trayvon martin wasn't allowed to stand his ground. There have been a lot of cases in floridah black on black crime where similar charges were filed. I want to focus on this case, and we need to have the discussion. But I don't know that when you connect the two, that it's necessarily fair in connection with this case. But I am going to be very curious to hear from the jurors say. Thank you for that. When we come back, gridlock in
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