Those of us living in multiracial communities such as Hampton Roads paused after the Zimmerman verdict to wonder how people would react. That alone is a sad commentary, that we have come to expect violence in these instances, but as it happens nothing of consequence occurred.
The obvious question is this. Who would be the target of anyone ire? The defendant was Hispanic. The prosecutors were white. I think by the end, many observers were predicting acquittal, so it was not as though it was a close call. True, anything can happen in a jury trial, but most folks foresaw this particular verdict.
The real show was the aftermath – not riots, but spin-meisters at press conferences, trying to frame the narrative as we go forward. And although there were different versions of what had just happened, nobody publicly called for retribution on the shooter (unless by that you mean a civil trial). Everyone spoke calmly and asked for peace in the streets.
I wasn’t worried that marauding gangs were going to rampage down my street because the jury decided that Zimmerman was not guilty. Nope. This wasn’t like the Rodney King trial so many years ago. There were just too many facts, too many legal provisions favoring the defendant. I suspect plenty of people saw the photos of Zimmerman’s injuries, heard the details during the trial, imagined the 17 year old kids in their own neighborhood who are hardly children or boys, and concluded to themselves – albeit quietly – yeah, I could see that sort of thing happening.
Lawyers are often ambivalent about these celebrity trials. They regret the politicization of their profession and the amateur commentary, but by the same token they appreciate an opportunity for the public to see up close what lawyers do for a living. They are rightly proud of our judicial system, with all of its flaws, and anything that educates the general public can be a boon.