White Brooklyn residents generally reacted with nuanced views to George Zimmerman getting off scot-free free in court despite gunning down 17-year-old Treyvon Martin, who was unarmed. All those spoken with refused to give last names.
“My heart goes out to the family that lost a child,” said Gina, a senior citizen dental assistant that lives in Midwood. “But the same way I saw the expression of people coming out to show their sympathy for the family, I wish they could show same the same sympathy to every police officer and firefighter injured or killed by severe violence in our society. And that same sympathy should be shown to senior citizens like myself whose his necklaces are ripped off and who are violated in their hallways and their apartment buildings.”
Gina evaded the issue of whether she though Zimmerman would have been convicted if Treyvon Martin was white, saying instead that the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida should be further investigated.
“I think because this young man was black e boy we have had this outpour and loud demonstrations. Already there was violence and in some cities stores were broken into because he was of color. The law is the law, and the evidence was the evidence, and that was a fact. The jurists had a hard job to do and everybody should put themselves in their shoes.”
Djemail, a recent Muslim immigrant from Macedonia now living in Kensington, said he watched the trial daily on TV with his wife, who works at a law firm.
“I don’t understand how someone cannot be guilty when that person had a gun and the other person didn’t have one. If you have a gun and I don’t have one and you kill me that isn’t fair,” said Djemail, adding if Treyvon Martin was white he thinks Zimmerman would be in jail for life.
“All over the world if you are not a member of the elite you don’t have rights. I don’t see human rights in this country.”
Virginia, a homemaker with children originally from Texas but now living in Kensington, said the verdict is a clear indication that racism is alive and well in America.
“I found it very unsurprising that he (Zimmerman) got off. The case was in Florida and knowing how the jury was made up I was certain he was going to get off. There is a divide in this country and there are racists in this country, and white people in this country are so racist and not even aware of it,” she said, adding white people are frightened by black people and think they are different then everyone and so they think this man (Zimmerman) deserved to shoot him (Martin).
“It’s shameful and it makes me sick. I think the United States and especially Florida are profoundly racist places where they don’t think a black life is as important as a white life,” she said.
Virginia said the main problem besides racism in Florida is the “Stand Your Ground” law
“If a half-Hispanic man kills a white man I would think he would be in jail – maybe not for a higher degree but on some grounds,” she said.
Paul, a retired senior citizen originally from East Flatbush, said he belonged to a neighborhood block association for the past 34 years, and as a part of that was a member of a watch team trained by the police.
“We were trained and told not to get out of the car and if we see anything to call the police,” said Paul. “Zimmerman is guilty of at the very least criminally negligent homicide because he caused the incident by doing what he wasn’t supposed to do which was getting out of the car and follow him on foot.”
Paul said Zimmerman may have been actually guilty of murder but we don’t know because the only person living that was witness to the incident was him.
“If Martin was white I think he (Zimmerman) would have been guilty, because as I said we were told not to get out of the car or do anything but call the police,” he said.