Tomorrow's news today (This is becoming a trend):
For nearly a month, tens of thousands have marched and rallied, from hard concrete of Philly’s Love Park to a police station in Sanford, Fla. — wearing hoodies, carrying Skittles and posters, and asking for two things.
They wanted justice for the slain 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin.
And they wanted answers for why he was gunned down by a self-styled neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman.
The journey toward justice took a giant first step on Wednesday when Florida’s special prosecutor, Angela Corey, announced that 28-year-old Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and taken into police custody.
But a nation’s answers will have to wait.
Prosecutors wouldn’t even say where Zimmerman is being held, let alone divulge any new details about what happened on the damp night of Feb. 26, when Zimmerman encountered and shot Trayvon as he walked through a gated community after returning from a convenience store.
“So much information got released in this case that shouldn’t have been released,” said Corey, who announced the charges but revealed little else in a news conference last night.
Trayvon’s parents and supporters expressed relief and gratitude to Corey — who was appointed after local cops and prosecutors initally accepted Zimmerman’s alibi of self-defense and declined to bring charges. But they agreed that the case — which has exposed ongoing faultlines and anxieties over race in America — still has quite a long way to go before any sense of closure.
“We’re are just now getting to first base,” said Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys for Trayvon’s family and part of the aggressive campaign that led the case to be re-examined, with the appointment of Corey as well as a separate civil rights probe by the U.S. Justice Department.
Despite the lack of any new details, legal analysts were quick to speculate that the severity of the charge — the maximum penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole — means that Corey developed evidence that undercuts Zimmerman’s reported claim that the 17-year-old high school football player was the aggressor.
“This is a very, very major charge,” Jeffrey Toobin, the CNN legal analyst, said after last night’s news conference. “He \[Zimmerman\] can only be convicted if he showed ‘a depraved attitude.’”
Some answers may come after Zimmerman — who apparently was taken to jail in Sanford several hours after the announcement — seeks a bail hearing, which could come as early as Thursday. Zimmerman’s brand-new lawyer, Mark O’Mara, said the accused murderer will seek to be released from custody.
O’Mara told CNN he was concerned that his client could not receive a fair trial after weeks of national publicity over the case. "There's obviously been a lot of information flowing,” he said. “I think a lot of it has been premature and inappropriate."
But without that widespread publicity, it’s clear that Zimmerman would still be walking the sidewalks of Sanford as a free man. Police in the central Florida town initially said last month that their hands were tied by the state’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law. Momentum only shifted with news coverage, the release of Zimmerman’s 911 calls, and then the public rallies.
“Had there not been pressure, there would not have neem a second look,” said the civil right activist Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sharpton and others suggested that the arrest of Zimmerman was nearly the end of the beginning, that there will be more pressure to roll back gun-lobby-supported self-defense laws on the books in Florida and other states.
But last night among the legion of Trayvon’s supporters. there was also a palpable sigh of relief that Zimmerman is behind bars.
“We simply wanted an arrest," Tyayon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said. "We wanted nothing more and nothing less, and we got it. And I say thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus."