Statement of the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, July 14, 2013
Democratic Socialists of America joins the broad civil rights and progressive community in expressing its outrage at the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Only an insane, ALEC-inspired “stand your ground law” combined with the racist assumption that African Americans automatically pose a threat to anyone’s person and property enabled George Zimmerman to be acquitted. In the law of most other societies, the armed party would have been responsible for “standing down” and avoiding an altercation with an unarmed party. But in the United States, an unarmed black teenager, walking in his father’s neighborhood, is viewed by all too many as a threat to an armed vigilante who not only initiated the deadly encounter, but stalked the victim.
If the “stand your ground” law and a lax prosecution enabled George Zimmerman to get off, this is clearly one in a long series of cases in the United States where racist laws and true justice fail to coincide. George Zimmerman’s words to the police dispatcher –who urged him to stand down—ironically summarized what many of us see to be the outcome of the trial: “Fucking punks; these assholes always get away.” Indeed, George Zimmerman got away.
DSA urges its members to join protests against the verdict and “stand your ground laws” and to redouble our efforts to fight against racism, including the outrageous “New Jim Crow” prison-pipeline laws that subject hundreds of thousands of prisoners of color to absurdly long sentences for minor, non-violent drug law violations. We also join the NAACP in urging the United States Justice Department to indict George Zimmerman for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin. “Walking while Black” should not be a cause for armed citizens to harass and confront – and then murder – unarmed persons of color.