Time Columnist Blasts Preparations for Zimmerman Verdict Riots as ‘Racial Fear-Mongering’

As the trial to determine if George Zimmerman committed a crime when he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, draws to a close, hundreds of people have threatened to riot over the verdict, and law-enforcement organizations in and around Broward County, Fla., have been coordinating efforts to have “a proper response plan” in case their worst fears are realized.

However, Time magazine columnist Marc Polite claims that the police have everything backwards since the pre-emptive call for calm “may be akin to racial fear-mongering" and “runs counter to recent history.”


Yes, that's right. According to Time magazine, law enforcement officers trying to do their job of preserving and promoting public safety are racists.

“In some ways, the calls for order recapitulate what this case is all about -- the assumption of violence on the part of the black community, and of black men,” Polite stated. “No one seems to be concerned about the possible violence of Zimmerman supporters if Zimmerman is convicted.”

That could be because people angry over Martin's death have threatened to start nationwide riots while one of the worst reported actions a supporter of the Hispanic defendant has done was to spray “Long Live Zimmerman” on the wall of a building at Ohio State University.

Nevertheless, Polite continued by painting a rosy picture of the future:

If Zimmerman is acquitted, people will be upset, but they will find other avenues to show their dissatisfaction. The black community has become more sophisticated in protesting injustice, and there is talk already of using economic boycotts and other means that are more effective than upheavals that would only result in heavier police repression.

After presenting a very optimistic view of what will happen if Zimmerman is acquitted, Polite found some irony in the situation:

To try to preemptively deter the black community from taking matters into their own hands should they feel justice has not been done is ironic considering that Zimmerman’s actions themselves were a kind of vigilanteeism -- a violence above and beyond what many, including the prosecution and Martin’s family, feel was necessary.

Turning to recent history, the writer stated: “The last major racial riot occurred in Los Angeles after four police officers were acquitted in the brutal beating of Rodney King,” Polite stated. “That was 21 years ago. Since then, there have been several other racially charged cases that might have provoked an outpouring of protest but did not.”

One of those incidents was the acquittal in 2008 of the undercover police officers who killed Sean Bell, a 23-year-old New York City man due to be married later that day who walked out of a Queens strip club with two friends. When one of the officers saw what he believed was one of the men reaching for a gun, he and his fellow policemen unleashed a hail of 50 bullets that resulted in Bell's death.

“No riots ensued,” the columnist wrote.

Also, the indictment of the officer who shot and killed Bronx teenager Ramarley Graham was thrown out by a judge earlier this year, even though there was footage of the police following him into his Bronx home.

“His mother didn’t call for riots,” Polite stated. Instead, “she made T-shirts to protest.”

However, none of the incidents the columnist discussed received the same extensive media coverage as the Zimmerman case.

Speaking of media coverage, it would seem that Marc Polite has missed a few pertinent comments from his fellow Democrats on the idea that angry Trayvon Martin supporters might riot if Zimmerman is acquitted.

On Wednesday evening, Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC's weekday program PoliticsNation, said that "there should be no violence" regardless of the outcome of the high-profile trial. Although he was not predicting that there would be violence, it is clear that Sharpton thought it was a very real possibility. Using Polite's definition of the "assumption of violence" regarding blacks, does that make Sharpton predjudiced against black Americans?

In the end, no one knows what will happen with the jury's verdict or people's reactions to it. As a result, it's responsible for police to anticipate violence and do their best to lessen it. As the saying goes, it's better to be safe than sorry, especially in an emotionally charged situation like the Zimmerman trial, even if it means that ideological bigots like Marc Polite think you (and Al Sharpton!) are racist.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall