David French is a staff writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, an attorney (concentrating his practice in constitutional law and the law of armed conflict), and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom
(Commentary Magazine) ―Police officers arriving on the scene of an early-evening shooting on February 26, 2012, in the Florida town of Sanford had no way of knowing they were beginning an investigation that would lead to the most racially charged criminal case since O.J. Simpson’s in 1995. At the time, the shooting likely seemed tragic, a bit unusual, but not all that difficult to investigate. An armed neighborhood-watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, shot and killed an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claimed Martin had attacked him without any justifiable provocation.
After a few days of investigation, the state of Florida declined to file charges. Martin’s family began drumming up publicity to correct what they believed to be a terrible injustice. The Republican governor appointed a special prosecutor who filed second-degree murder charges against Zimmerman two months after the incident—pleasing those in the media and on the left who had quickly taken up the cause of the slain teen. He was killed, they claimed heatedly, for the crime of “walking while black.”
In response, conservatives seem to have developed a rooting interest in Zimmerman’s innocence. Listen to conservative talk radio, read conservative comment boards, read many conservative pundits, and you will see a relentless critique of the state’s evidence against Zimmerman, angry denunciations of the left’s abuse of the case for political gain, and even outright scorn for the idea that Zimmerman might be guilty of any crime at all.
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