While many criminal trials — from Jackie Robinson to O.J. Simpson — have been marked by racially-charged witness and cross-examination, the upcoming trial of alleged gang leader and son of H. Rap Brown, Elijah “Cuffie” Dukes, has been notable by its absence of such topics from cross-examination.
However, the lack of prominent discussions on race can be traced back to both the criminal and general tenor of the trial itself. The national conversation surrounding the Trayvon Martin case heated up as a result of racialized anger surrounding the jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of the black teenager, who was shot to death during a confrontation with Zimmerman during a confrontation in a Florida gated community. In the months that followed, rallies, demonstrations, and rallies have taken place on both sides of the racial divide, in support of and against Trayvon Martin. These demonstrations include an infamous “march on Washington” staged in Washington, D.C.
While these gatherings have included individuals and organizations that take up politically-charged causes in different ways, many of these demonstrations have also included racially-charged demands: a $500 million “Justice for Trayvon Martin” campaign spearheaded by the pro-gun group Project Veritas, for example, which ultimately resulted in the group’s seizure of more than $200,000 from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s bank account. In addition, a U.S. District Judge ruled in May of 2016 that a Georgia municipal post office can now participate in that state’s legislative election system with the rights to have ballots in their hands in time for voting. The ruling, a post-election favorite among Fox News pundits, came after a huge rally was organized by Tea Party-affiliated group, “Astrid Silva for Congressman” with the sit-in as one of the basic elements. “I have spent the past few weeks walking the streets in Savannah and preparing to take to our polls with a solution for millions of people,” U.S. Rep. Silva is heard saying on the group’s Facebook page.
As a result of Trayvon Martin’s murder, a national conversation about race began, and is sure to continue. As the Criminal Court Judge says when she holds her upcoming October trial in Fulton County, “let’s have the jury process where people will openly and honestly talk about race.”
Myron Gray is a Michigan-based political analyst, commentator, & journalist.