Last week was the first anniversary of the publication of “Innocence Lost”, Book I of my Trilogy with a Sequel, “An Untenable Fragrance of Violets”. And by happenstance today is Bastille Day, the French day of Independence from tyranny. It is the day after the grave and obscene travesty that passes for justice in this country, the acquittal of George Zimmerman who was charged with murder for the shooting of Trayvon Martin. It amazes me that the crowds of supporters outside did not storm the castle, so to speak, when the verdict was published. After a sleepless night following weeks of watching every moment of the trial that was shown on cable news, the two things came together in my mind, hence this blog.
The thing is, that the whole idea of injustice was the inspiration for my story, although it embraces much more than that. It is one of the reasons that the story is so long, four books, nearly two thousand pages; it is about my life as an artist, a mother, mother, wife, feminist, activist, survivor and so much more and it is set in the midst of ongoing history. As it happens, “Book II, Unintended Circumstances” concerns the years in which I endured a continuing custody battle for six of my seven children initiated by their father. This was my introduction into the court system, and to the vast and all-encompassing world of injustice, legal and personal, my personal introduction to conspiracy.
Justice in this country, more often than not, is not about facts and truth, but about power and control and connections. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In later years when I had experienced first-hand the vagaries and fickleness of the justice system in personal legal matters in which I inadvertently got involved while doing business, I was driven to study law and became a paralegal, got involved in it all first hand, a very illuminating time. [The rest of the books to a large degree deal with the fallout and ramifications of those unintended circumstances.]
So with some legal training and experience in matters jurisprudential I watched the facts and testimony in this case of the State of Florida versus George Zimmerman unfold, and listened carefully to the presentations of the counsel for both sides, and I saw a very clear picture of guilt, clearly saw that he was guilty as charged of Second Degree Murder. I thought that perhaps, given the machinations of the defense, the location of the trial, Florida, the jury might agree to the lesser of the charges, Manslaughter, as a compromise. Never, never, did I expect that they would vote to acquit. Talk about shock and awe. But then I began to think about it, bring my own experience to it.
I recall that saying, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and how my former husband, father of six of my children, used his connections with judges, made while he was Bar Association and Kiwanis vice or president to take my children away from me. Have you ever heard the maxim, “They never take children away from the mother?” My book tells this story. But…in this case, I think about the circumstances of this present trial and the by now very well-known incident that led to it.
Trayvon Martin was profiled, stalked, arrested, convicted (without benefit of trial by a jury of one who was also his judge), sentenced to death, and shot by an unofficial, unauthorized law enforcement wannabe for the crime of walking in the rain at night while black; George Zimmerman was acquitted of Second Degree Murder and of the lesser charge of Manslaughter although the evidence clearly showed that he profiled, stalked, and shot Trayvon; that he lied, changed his story, concocted the story to fit parameters of the law which he had studied, had studied martial arts and had himself only minor injuries. That he knew the street name very well that he claimed not to recall, had even mentioned it to one police officer directly after the incident, that the gun was hidden behind him under his pants, that Trayvon could not have seen or reached it, that he was indeed not even near the concrete where he claims to have been battered, that there were no marks on Trayvon that would indicate his part in this alleged attack on George, etc, etc,etc. Trayvon was then convicted during George’s trial by the defense attorneys of being a typical black criminal who had viciously attacked George and therefore deserved to be killed. How could this have happened? How could the jury have been so blind, so misdirected?
Think about it…
George Zimmerman’s father is or was a judge. In the very town that the trial was held. These jurors live in that town, their families live, work, play in that town. Do you not think that there might have been a consciousness and perhaps fear of repercussions if they had decided other than to acquit? A judge has far reaching tentacles of power and control in things such as these; explicit threats do not need to be made, the danger is implicit. And what about the NRA? It is common knowledge that Florida is an “NRA state”, owned and operated by… the gun culture and industry; all of those same ramifications flourish in that setting. Right to carry, right to carry concealed, guns for all, stand your ground, all of these seemingly just laws that are so pervasive in this Florida society, as well as so many other places, are impenetrable as doctrines and a way of life. The six women on the jury…what were their beliefs regarding all of this, and given that they are part and parcel of this culture, what chance did Trayvon Martin have for justice in this venue? About as much as I had of keeping custody of my own children in my former husband’s venue, not the one where I resided and where we were known but where he had all of his connections. I was convicted of needing surgery while mother and requesting temporary help from the children’s father who had little interest in them except vengeance against me and being exempt from child support. Did I mention that he is a lawyer? [Note: I did get custody of the children back years later after a long battle after exposure of the thing by the media. This is not to say that all of our lives were not ruined, destroyed by the conflict, that ramifications are not yet unfolding these many years later.] Again, the jurists…what were the ideas held in their individual families? Could they have made another decision and gone home to peace and acquiescence? Would their continuing lives have become a kind of Hell? What choices did they really have in this climate? What were the odds of Justice happening at all?
Sic transit Gloria mundi. That means, that’s the way the world goes….
But is this the way it should be?