Guest Post by Kristinn Taylor
Attorneys for Trayvon Martin’s family – left to right, Daryl Parks, Natalie Jackson and Benjamin Crump – listened to court proceedings in June in Sanford. (GEORGE SKENE/ORLANDO SENTINEL/MCT)
Natalie Jackson, co-counsel for the family of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin accused the nearly all white jury that acquitted George Zimmerman in the February 26, 2012 shooting death of Martin in Sanford, Florida of viewing Martin as “the black boogeyman everybody is afraid of.”
The jury was comprised of five white women and one mixed race woman believed to be black-Hispanic.
Jackson made the racially inflammatory charge in an interview with Bright House Networks’ CFNEws 13, a cable TV news channel serving central Florida, broadcast on Wednesday.
Jackson criticized juror B-37, who spoke out this week on CNN, for not identifying with Trayvon Martin as her own child. Jackson compared the juror’s lack of identifying with the 5’11” 158 pound athletic 17 year old black male to the universal sentiment for two year old Caylee Anthony, a central Florida white female found murdered in 2008 whose case similarly garnered obsessive national attention.
While Jackson said “everyone has to accept” the jury’s verdict, she accused the jury of racism and basing their decision on “emotional elements.” Jackson accused juror B-37 specifically of deciding the case on “other things besides the law” for stating her opinion of Zimmerman as a good person.
Asked what she thought changed the jury to vote not guilty after the initial vote of three for acquittal, two for manslaughter and one for second degree murder, and what was missing in the prosecution’s case, Jackson said, “I think there was not a real dialogue on race. I think that the fact that race played a part in this and how even when it came down to the defense putting on a witness who talked about crime at her house, being burglarized in 2011 (note: by two black males while the white woman resident hid in the house with her young child), and that was associated with Trayvon, a person George Zimmerman didn’t even know, that you know to me that, that brought it in. You have a picture of Trayvon shirtless that was shown to the jury–an upshot of a 17 year old body shirtless. You have silhouettes of a hoodie person and silhouettes of George Zimmerman. And that silhouette looked hulking over George Zimmerman. And it was, it was the black boogeyman that everybody’s afraid of.”
Jackson was asked about her expressed confidence before the trial that an all-white jury would convict Zimmerman and what she thinks about that now.
“I’ve always thought it was, I’ve always thought that (the racial make-up of the jury would matter.) The reason I wanted a white jury was because I wanted to see how far we’ve come in America. If people would base their evidence on the information that was presented in trial and base it on the common sense of this case, because I thought if they did that then surely George Zimmerman would be convicted.”
Asked what that meant about America, Jackson said, “I think we’re seeing it with the demonstrations. I think we’re seeing that people are not happy with the justice system, they’re not happy with the way that young black males are thought of in this case. And that’s why it was important to have a white jury. It was important for America to see that people who said, “Surely you can’t do this!” you know, they need to see where we are. This is not a po–we’re not in a post-racial society. Race certainly plays a part in everything that we do in life. And so now, that was to me the reason I wanted the white jury. It was the tough discussion. It was either the confirmation or the disappointment. And many people got the disappointment. And now, let’s talk about it.”
While expressing support for the prosecution in the interview, Jackson went on to reiterate her criticism of the prosecution for taking race out of the case. Jackson also made more direct her accusation that the defense engaged in race-baiting.
“The one thing that I’ve said was missing and I’ve already told you that of this case was that the element of race was taken out. And the only person that presented an element of race was the defense and they presented the ‘scary boogeyman black boy’ to the jury. So I think that if there was any tactical mistake it was that mistake.”
Jackson then went on to accuse the jurors of being liars and racists, “I will submit to you all of them will say that race played no part in this case when we all know that it did.”
Jackson’s blasting of the jury as racist follows softer attacks on the jury made by two of her co-counsels in interviews with Greta Van Susteren, host of the Fox News Channel show On the Record. As an experienced trial attorney, Van Susteren was quite upset with her guests’ attacks on the jury.
Jasmine Rand told Van Susteren she considers herself a “social engineer” more than a lawyer as her reason for seeking to overturn the verdict by rabblerousing for federal prosecution of Zimmerman.
In a subsequent interview with Van Susteren, Daryl Parks attacked juror B-37 over her statements to CNN.
Parks is co-founder of Parks & Crump, the firm representing the Martin family. Rand works for Parks & Crump. Jackson is an independent attorney based in Orlando.
(Transcription of CFNews 13 interview by Kristinn Taylor.)