July 13, 2013, an all women jury consisting of 6 individuals found George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17 year-old Trayvon Martin in February of 2012, not guilty of second-degree murder, and not guilty of manslaughter.
The Zimmerman trial was unlike any murder/manslaughter trial that the 21st century had witnessed. While the familiar “who attacked who” aspect was the focus of the jury, the media’s attention was on issues of race and gun control.
While many believe that the media’s portrayal of the accused Zimmerman was biased and over-inflated, there are still a lot of people who agree that the shooting (or at least the events leading up to it) was racially driven.
The interesting phenomenon, however, is the fact that the United States was split on the issue according to their political stances. Below is a video of the Liberal news source, The Young Turks , criticizing the Conservative Fox News Network for supporting Zimmerman during the trial.
According to Washingtonpost.com, “Nearly six in ten (59 percent) Democrats say the shooting was unjustified while just one in five (22 percent) Republicans say the same.” But how could a murder trial with so many complications become so political?
The Zimmerman trial added fuel to the already burning issue of gun control in the united states. Typically, Republicans wish to keep guns available and legal, and Democrats want to put stricter laws on guns or have them banned altogether.
The death of unarmed Martin had the potential of being a catalyst for stricter gun control laws. The tragedy also brought Florida’s “stand your ground” law (the law that led to Zimmerman’s acquittal ) into public view, which caused an outcry among many anti-gun activists.
Conservative news sources began negatively portraying Trayvon Martin, and showed support for Zimmerman, brandishing him a victim:
Liberal news sources showed support for Martin, and depicted Zimmerman as a liar, and a murderer:
The most traumatizing thing learned from the trial was that the political system had the ability to twist the media, even in the case of a young man’s death. The fact that the citizens of the United States are more likely to support their political parties than mourn a tragedy is also devastating.