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4/5/2012 3:37:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Justice in a post racial America

Bill Forhan

Trayvon Martin's tragic death demonstrates that we are more divided than we have ever been over race and the way our American justice system is supposed to work. What happened in Sandford, Fla. that fateful night is not at all clear and I have no intention of adding to the hysteria, speculation and condemnation. Suffice it to say we all just need to take a deep breath and try to let the justice system do its job.

The problem here is that despite all of our efforts to address issues of racial tolerance in this country, it now appears that our greatest achievement is we have given the black community permission to emulate the best practices of the Ku Klux Klan. The new Black Panthers have announced they are offering a bounty for the capture of George Zimmerman. And nobody is condemning this lynch mob's approach to American justice. Their mantra - no justice, no peace. Really? Sounds like sedition to me.

I don't know if George Zimmerman acted in self-defense or out of racial hatred. It would appear that no one but George and Trayvon know exactly what happened. That is always the problem in these situations. It doesn't matter if the event is between people of different races or the same race. And no matter who steps forward to tell what they observed, those who have pre-judged this event will be crying for street justice. That's not the American way.

The fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all citizens the right to "due process of law" and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. George has a lot of explaining to do but just like O.J. Simpson, he is innocent until proven guilty. Opinions about what happened should be left to the courtroom.

It has been nearly 50 years since the civil rights act of 1964 was passed. But to listen to the race baiters one would conclude that white people are still committed to abusing the rights of black people.

This country was built on a foundation of equality as best expressed in the words of our Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Living up to those noble words has not been easy or perfect. From the very beginning of our Republic we have struggled with the issue of equality and fairness under the law. Before the civil rights act of 1964, there were five amendments to the U.S. Constitution addressing equal rights and a civil war over the evils of slavery.

Despite all of the laws we have passed, there are still too many racists among us today. Which only goes to prove that laws do not change what's in our hearts. That is much more difficult, but abandoning our system of justice for mob rule will not strengthen our union or honor our proud traditions.

Those who are calling for violating the civil rights of George Zimmerman should be roundly condemned. And the Black Panther leaders who have placed a bounty on his head should be charged with obstruction of justice. Failure to do so is hypocritical and a wholesale abandonment of our hard won principles of American justice. Despite what our attorney general has said, racism is not limited to white people. There are also many racists among the minority community, and it is far past the time when we should call on them to honor our American traditions of equality and fairness.

Many people voted for Obama to prove we were no longer a racist nation. Seems like he owes it to them to call for calm and for giving the system a chance to work.

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