9 Decisions That Obliterated Our Confidence in the American Legal System
Rodney King Verdict
Before there was Eric Garner, there was Rodney Glen King. King, a construction worker, became famous when he took Los Angeles police officers on a high-speed chase on March 3, 1991, which ended with officers surrounding King and viciously beating him. A witness videotaped the beating from his balcony and sent it to a local television station, leading to it being aired around the world. But on April 29, 1992, a jury of 10 whites, one Hispanic and one Filipina in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley acquitted the four police officers who had been charged with using excessive force. The announcement of the verdict caused the Black community to explode in outrage, leading to a three-day riot that resulted in 53 people being killed and over 2,000 injured.
George Zimmerman Acquittal
On Saturday, July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman walked free from a Florida courtroom after being acquitted of murdering 17-year-old unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin, in a case that was closely monitored by a nation that was forced to have an intense debate about race, the lives of Black boys and the irrational fears of whites. African-Americans were devastated that a boy who went to the store for a pack of Skittles could be killed by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain and he get away with it. After the three-week trial, the jury accepted Zimmerman’s contention that he shot Martin in self-defense, believing his life to be in immediate danger.