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home : opinion : letters to the editor May 25, 2016

7/17/2013 11:06:00 AM
Martin Case

Editor, Times-Union:
In 1961 Dr. Martin Luther King pointed out that while blacks made up 10 percent of the population they committed 58 percent of the crimes in St. Louis.
He went on to say that the black community needed to engage in a moral inventory and take responsibility for these inescapable facts. The same facts hold true today: a large number of crimes, especially in urban areas, are committed by young black men.
I am not implying that black people are inherently prone to criminality. I believe that much crime is linked to a lack of social ownership. Blacks are still substantially excluded from an investment in society and when one has no ownership, why would he care?
There is still a deep sense of exclusion among young black men. The fact that unemployment, like crime, is extremely high among young black men cannot be ignored. Crime, poverty, and disenfranchisement are all intertwined. While things are better than they used to be, we still have a long way to go.
 With this in mind, it is obvious that the trial of George Zimmerman and the death of Trayvon Martin were all about race. Of course George Zimmerman was racially profiling the young Martin the night of his death, a death that was avoidable.
Zimmerman’s neighborhood had been subject to crime and when he saw a young black man in a hoodie he doubtless he assumed possible criminal conduct. If we were really honest, wouldn’t most of us fear this? Zimmerman called the police from his car and could easily have stayed there.
Instead, showing bad judgment, he got out and followed the teen. It appears clear from the evidence that Martin panicked as Zimmerman pursued him. Violence broke out and it looks like Martin was getting the best of Zimmerman. Zimmerman, fearful for his life, shot the teen through the heart and he died within minutes.
 I watched this trial with some interest because I had been a prosecutor and have defended many people too. It seemed obvious to me that the prosecutors had a weak case and looked defeated. It seemed that they were in the position that they felt compelled to bring the case but knew it was unwinnable.
I was in a case like that once or twice as a prosecutor and it was miserable. And yet it is equally miserable to choose against bringing a case and face the public wrath and scolding of the family members of the deceased who insist upon a trial. It is a horrible no win. The prosecutors did the only thing they could — they gave it to a jury who made the right decision — a horrible tragedy filled with bad judgments and overreactions is not necessarily a crime.
 It is right to admit that this case was about race. But in my view it is terribly wrong for the black and liberal community to simply focus on the racial profiling. Blacks still need to embrace the moral inventory that Dr. King pointed out and fight to rise above their circumstances. And the rest of us need to remember that we owe, not a hand out, but a hand up to the socially oppressed and hopeless.
 David C. Kolbe
Warsaw, via email





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