Wall of Shame: George Zimmerman’s Defense Team et al.

June 28, 2013
By

Let us be clear at the outset: here at The Feminist Wire, we’re fans of the Sixth Amendment and believe that everybody deserves a fair trial, including the right to defense counsel. But honestly, does defense counsel (or the prosecution, for that matter?) have to be so relentlessly sleazy? We’re pretty sure the Bill of Rights does not call for smearing witnesses through gleeful invocation of racist and sexist tropes.

We ask: Should winning at all costs trump human decency and broader movements toward social justice and equality?

Rachel_Jeantel_rtr_imgConsider the behavior of George Zimmerman’s defense team, particularly Don West and Mark O’Mara. They seem to have forgotten that their client, George Zimmerman, is the one on trial for murder in the Trayvon Martin case. Instead, in recent days they have behaved as if witness Rachel Jeantel is on trial. The 19-year old high school student, a friend of Trayvon Martin since the second grade, testified for the prosecution, and has been vilified for it by the defense team and the public.

Why? Because she is “a young woman, dark-skinned and overweight” and, although she speaks three languages (English, Haitian Creole, and Spanish), has been treated by West as if she is both stupid and incompetent. Jeantel has become the target not only of zealous defense attorneys with a case to win, but also of the public–white and black alike–many of whom have castigated her for her presumed “illiteracy” and “ignorance.”

In Rachel Jeantel, we see the pernicious intersection of race, gender, class, appearance, syntax, and nation. And we are repeatedly told, by defense attorneys and the public, that she is a “bad” witness. At the heart of these statements and assumptions is the underlying belief that Black girls are not allowed to be truth-sayers. Black girls are not “legitimate” witnesses. Black girls should not speak, and if they do, there will be repercussions. Especially if said Black girls use the (perhaps accurate) term “creepy ass cracker.”

Rachel Jeantel is “on trial” because she is a Black girl speaking her truth–and because she is offering some devastating hits to the Zimmerman defense. The defense can’t counter the truth of her words as to Trayvon Martin’s last minutes alive, but they can counter the “truth” of her existence through the convenient manipulation of stereotypes.

Shame on the Zimmerman defense team, and shame on those who would vilify Rachel Jeantel–a grieving young woman who lost her best friend–for testifying in this case. In sharing her truth, and her profound loss at Trayvon’s death, she has become both spectacle and diversion. If any justice will be served in this case, it will not come through the persecution of Rachel Jeantel.rachel-jeantel

#LoveforRachel

 

 

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52 Responses to Wall of Shame: George Zimmerman’s Defense Team et al.

  1. Viva Hoffmann on June 28, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    ” ass cracker” refers to anal sex. check out Urban Dictionary. Rachel was just too shy and embarrassed to explain it, said instead, “pervert.” So Trayvon was afraid that ZImmerman was eyeing him and following him to sexually assault him.
    That’s my theory. Cant believe the Prosecution hasn’t looked it up. I emailed them and phoned them but doubt they even read or listen to the messages. In my mind that changed the whole dichotomy of the case.

    • no on June 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

      is this a joke? perhaps a better way of punctuating would be “creepy-ass cracker” where “creepy-ass” is an adjective modifying the noun “cracker”

  2. Viva Hoffmann on June 28, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    ” ass cracker” refers to anal sex. check out Urban Dictionary. Rachel was just too shy and embarrassed to explain it, said instead, “pervert.” So Trayvon was afraid that ZImmerman was eyeing him and following him to sexually assault him.
    That’s my theory. Cant believe the Prosecution hasn’t looked it up. I emailed them and phoned them but doubt they even read or listen to the messages. In my mind that changed the whole dichotomy of the case.

    • no on June 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

      is this a joke? perhaps a better way of punctuating would be “creepy-ass cracker” where “creepy-ass” is an adjective modifying the noun “cracker”

  3. Viva Hoffmann on June 28, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    ” ass cracker” refers to anal sex. check out Urban Dictionary. Rachel was just too shy and embarrassed to explain it, said instead, “pervert.” So Trayvon was afraid that ZImmerman was eyeing him and following him to sexually assault him.
    That’s my theory. Cant believe the Prosecution hasn’t looked it up. I emailed them and phoned them but doubt they even read or listen to the messages. In my mind that changed the whole dichotomy of the case.

    • no on June 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

      is this a joke? perhaps a better way of punctuating would be “creepy-ass cracker” where “creepy-ass” is an adjective modifying the noun “cracker”

  4. Viva Hoffmann on June 28, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    ” ass cracker” refers to anal sex. check out Urban Dictionary. Rachel was just too shy and embarrassed to explain it, said instead, “pervert.” So Trayvon was afraid that ZImmerman was eyeing him and following him to sexually assault him.
    That’s my theory. Cant believe the Prosecution hasn’t looked it up. I emailed them and phoned them but doubt they even read or listen to the messages. In my mind that changed the whole dichotomy of the case.

    • no on June 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

      is this a joke? perhaps a better way of punctuating would be “creepy-ass cracker” where “creepy-ass” is an adjective modifying the noun “cracker”

  5. Rchelle2000 on June 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Amen! [So very, very] well said!!

  6. Rchelle2000 on June 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Amen! [So very, very] well said!!

  7. Rchelle2000 on June 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Amen! [So very, very] well said!!

  8. Rchelle2000 on June 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Amen! [So very, very] well said!!

  9. Mattie on June 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    The fact that she can’t read cursive is really not that difficult to understand in this computer age where almost everything is in print. I homeschooled two of my children much of their curriculuum was computer generated and did not allow them to write much. I had to go the extra mile to make sure they could both read and write cursive letters.

    • Romaine on July 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I taught high school students who could not write cursive and could not read it because it was no longer part of the curriculum. So I am not surprised she couldn’t read cursive writing. Taking pot shots at her tells volumes about her attackers.

      • arielle on July 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        Yep! They no longer teach cursive as part of the curriculum in most if not, all schools! I was shocked finding this out as a TA in a private school a few years back!

  10. Mattie on June 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    The fact that she can’t read cursive is really not that difficult to understand in this computer age where almost everything is in print. I homeschooled two of my children much of their curriculuum was computer generated and did not allow them to write much. I had to go the extra mile to make sure they could both read and write cursive letters.

    • Romaine on July 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I taught high school students who could not write cursive and could not read it because it was no longer part of the curriculum. So I am not surprised she couldn’t read cursive writing. Taking pot shots at her tells volumes about her attackers.

      • arielle on July 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        Yep! They no longer teach cursive as part of the curriculum in most if not, all schools! I was shocked finding this out as a TA in a private school a few years back!

  11. Mattie on June 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    The fact that she can’t read cursive is really not that difficult to understand in this computer age where almost everything is in print. I homeschooled two of my children much of their curriculuum was computer generated and did not allow them to write much. I had to go the extra mile to make sure they could both read and write cursive letters.

    • Romaine on July 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I taught high school students who could not write cursive and could not read it because it was no longer part of the curriculum. So I am not surprised she couldn’t read cursive writing. Taking pot shots at her tells volumes about her attackers.

      • arielle on July 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        Yep! They no longer teach cursive as part of the curriculum in most if not, all schools! I was shocked finding this out as a TA in a private school a few years back!

  12. Mattie on June 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    The fact that she can’t read cursive is really not that difficult to understand in this computer age where almost everything is in print. I homeschooled two of my children much of their curriculuum was computer generated and did not allow them to write much. I had to go the extra mile to make sure they could both read and write cursive letters.

    • Romaine on July 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I taught high school students who could not write cursive and could not read it because it was no longer part of the curriculum. So I am not surprised she couldn’t read cursive writing. Taking pot shots at her tells volumes about her attackers.

      • arielle on July 16, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        Yep! They no longer teach cursive as part of the curriculum in most if not, all schools! I was shocked finding this out as a TA in a private school a few years back!

  13. Crystal on June 29, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Get a grip. The defense team is not going after Rachel “because she is a young woman, dark-skinned and over-weight,” but because they HAVE NO DEFENSE. Zimmerman is guilty, so they are changing the focus to put others on trial. Sheesh. That’s Trial Tactics 101.

  14. Crystal on June 29, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Get a grip. The defense team is not going after Rachel “because she is a young woman, dark-skinned and over-weight,” but because they HAVE NO DEFENSE. Zimmerman is guilty, so they are changing the focus to put others on trial. Sheesh. That’s Trial Tactics 101.

  15. Crystal on June 29, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Get a grip. The defense team is not going after Rachel “because she is a young woman, dark-skinned and over-weight,” but because they HAVE NO DEFENSE. Zimmerman is guilty, so they are changing the focus to put others on trial. Sheesh. That’s Trial Tactics 101.

  16. Crystal on June 29, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Get a grip. The defense team is not going after Rachel “because she is a young woman, dark-skinned and over-weight,” but because they HAVE NO DEFENSE. Zimmerman is guilty, so they are changing the focus to put others on trial. Sheesh. That’s Trial Tactics 101.

  17. unitron on June 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    A person who is on trial in a criminal case is not, by virtue thereof, suddenly “lesser” and obligated to not be too aggresive in defending themselves.

    In the adversarial system which we employ, where the defendant has the full weight of the state and all of its resources against them, they have to be allowed to fight tooth and nail in contesting any and every scrap of evidence presented against them for there to be any hope of justice for the innocent.

    It is actually the evidence being presented which is being “tried”, and that includes “trying” the sources of that evidence.

    It’s similar in ways to the latter parts of the scientific method where one publishes one’s results and one’s peers in one’s field try to demolish it and destroy one’s professional reputation, but do so with science and logic rather than emotion.

    (Whether Professor “X” has poor personal hygiene or an inability to carry a tune or an unnatural attraction to livestock are irrelevant to whether his supposed success at cold fusion can be replicated–all that matters is whether or not it can be replicated)

    If they can’t, one is closer to having “scientifically” proven some new thing.

    In similar fashion is presented evidence assailed to see if it holds up or not.

    You seem to be conflating what O’Mara and West have actually said with a bunch of stuff said online by a bunch of semi-anonymous posters, none of whom are part of the defense team (who, just like the prosecution, don’t have the time to spare for stuff like that), and for none of whom the defense team is responsible or accountable.

  18. unitron on June 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    A person who is on trial in a criminal case is not, by virtue thereof, suddenly “lesser” and obligated to not be too aggresive in defending themselves.

    In the adversarial system which we employ, where the defendant has the full weight of the state and all of its resources against them, they have to be allowed to fight tooth and nail in contesting any and every scrap of evidence presented against them for there to be any hope of justice for the innocent.

    It is actually the evidence being presented which is being “tried”, and that includes “trying” the sources of that evidence.

    It’s similar in ways to the latter parts of the scientific method where one publishes one’s results and one’s peers in one’s field try to demolish it and destroy one’s professional reputation, but do so with science and logic rather than emotion.

    (Whether Professor “X” has poor personal hygiene or an inability to carry a tune or an unnatural attraction to livestock are irrelevant to whether his supposed success at cold fusion can be replicated–all that matters is whether or not it can be replicated)

    If they can’t, one is closer to having “scientifically” proven some new thing.

    In similar fashion is presented evidence assailed to see if it holds up or not.

    You seem to be conflating what O’Mara and West have actually said with a bunch of stuff said online by a bunch of semi-anonymous posters, none of whom are part of the defense team (who, just like the prosecution, don’t have the time to spare for stuff like that), and for none of whom the defense team is responsible or accountable.

  19. unitron on June 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    A person who is on trial in a criminal case is not, by virtue thereof, suddenly “lesser” and obligated to not be too aggresive in defending themselves.

    In the adversarial system which we employ, where the defendant has the full weight of the state and all of its resources against them, they have to be allowed to fight tooth and nail in contesting any and every scrap of evidence presented against them for there to be any hope of justice for the innocent.

    It is actually the evidence being presented which is being “tried”, and that includes “trying” the sources of that evidence.

    It’s similar in ways to the latter parts of the scientific method where one publishes one’s results and one’s peers in one’s field try to demolish it and destroy one’s professional reputation, but do so with science and logic rather than emotion.

    (Whether Professor “X” has poor personal hygiene or an inability to carry a tune or an unnatural attraction to livestock are irrelevant to whether his supposed success at cold fusion can be replicated–all that matters is whether or not it can be replicated)

    If they can’t, one is closer to having “scientifically” proven some new thing.

    In similar fashion is presented evidence assailed to see if it holds up or not.

    You seem to be conflating what O’Mara and West have actually said with a bunch of stuff said online by a bunch of semi-anonymous posters, none of whom are part of the defense team (who, just like the prosecution, don’t have the time to spare for stuff like that), and for none of whom the defense team is responsible or accountable.

  20. unitron on June 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    A person who is on trial in a criminal case is not, by virtue thereof, suddenly “lesser” and obligated to not be too aggresive in defending themselves.

    In the adversarial system which we employ, where the defendant has the full weight of the state and all of its resources against them, they have to be allowed to fight tooth and nail in contesting any and every scrap of evidence presented against them for there to be any hope of justice for the innocent.

    It is actually the evidence being presented which is being “tried”, and that includes “trying” the sources of that evidence.

    It’s similar in ways to the latter parts of the scientific method where one publishes one’s results and one’s peers in one’s field try to demolish it and destroy one’s professional reputation, but do so with science and logic rather than emotion.

    (Whether Professor “X” has poor personal hygiene or an inability to carry a tune or an unnatural attraction to livestock are irrelevant to whether his supposed success at cold fusion can be replicated–all that matters is whether or not it can be replicated)

    If they can’t, one is closer to having “scientifically” proven some new thing.

    In similar fashion is presented evidence assailed to see if it holds up or not.

    You seem to be conflating what O’Mara and West have actually said with a bunch of stuff said online by a bunch of semi-anonymous posters, none of whom are part of the defense team (who, just like the prosecution, don’t have the time to spare for stuff like that), and for none of whom the defense team is responsible or accountable.

  21. Stephanie on July 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I have watched ALL of the trial so far, and am even watching it right now. Frankly, I thought the defense team was INCREDIBLY gentle with Ms. Jeantel. Forget gender and race. The mission of the defense team is to provide the best defense for Mr. Zimmerman. Leave it to the jury, comprised of six women, to decide if the defense played a race or gender card. If they did, the defense will pay for their gamble. If not, they will win the day for Mr. Zimmerman. In the meantime, the jury is OUT.

    • Lily on July 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Five white women and one Hispanic woman. Hardly a jury of Zimmerman’s peers.

  22. Stephanie on July 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I have watched ALL of the trial so far, and am even watching it right now. Frankly, I thought the defense team was INCREDIBLY gentle with Ms. Jeantel. Forget gender and race. The mission of the defense team is to provide the best defense for Mr. Zimmerman. Leave it to the jury, comprised of six women, to decide if the defense played a race or gender card. If they did, the defense will pay for their gamble. If not, they will win the day for Mr. Zimmerman. In the meantime, the jury is OUT.

    • Lily on July 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Five white women and one Hispanic woman. Hardly a jury of Zimmerman’s peers.

  23. Stephanie on July 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I have watched ALL of the trial so far, and am even watching it right now. Frankly, I thought the defense team was INCREDIBLY gentle with Ms. Jeantel. Forget gender and race. The mission of the defense team is to provide the best defense for Mr. Zimmerman. Leave it to the jury, comprised of six women, to decide if the defense played a race or gender card. If they did, the defense will pay for their gamble. If not, they will win the day for Mr. Zimmerman. In the meantime, the jury is OUT.

    • Lily on July 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Five white women and one Hispanic woman. Hardly a jury of Zimmerman’s peers.

  24. Stephanie on July 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I have watched ALL of the trial so far, and am even watching it right now. Frankly, I thought the defense team was INCREDIBLY gentle with Ms. Jeantel. Forget gender and race. The mission of the defense team is to provide the best defense for Mr. Zimmerman. Leave it to the jury, comprised of six women, to decide if the defense played a race or gender card. If they did, the defense will pay for their gamble. If not, they will win the day for Mr. Zimmerman. In the meantime, the jury is OUT.

    • Lily on July 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Five white women and one Hispanic woman. Hardly a jury of Zimmerman’s peers.

  25. Val on July 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I try so hard not to read the comments posted in response to news articles and the like. They seem to be written by uneducated persons who aren’t fully informed about the topic. I am an exception to my own rule.
    If Trayvon had been called a creepy-assed n***** by Zimmerman, the sky would have fallen, but because a black person calls a white person a cracker, it’s not called out as demeaning, derogatory, or racist??
    This article is biased as are the majority of the comments.

    • Aria on July 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Val, did black people enslave white people and call the latter “crackers” to describe their “sub-human” nature? I don’t think so. There is no parallel to be drawn because colonialism was a one-way street. And you dare to call yourself “an exception” to lack of education? Please. Don’t embarrass yourself.

  26. Val on July 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I try so hard not to read the comments posted in response to news articles and the like. They seem to be written by uneducated persons who aren’t fully informed about the topic. I am an exception to my own rule.
    If Trayvon had been called a creepy-assed n***** by Zimmerman, the sky would have fallen, but because a black person calls a white person a cracker, it’s not called out as demeaning, derogatory, or racist??
    This article is biased as are the majority of the comments.

    • Aria on July 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Val, did black people enslave white people and call the latter “crackers” to describe their “sub-human” nature? I don’t think so. There is no parallel to be drawn because colonialism was a one-way street. And you dare to call yourself “an exception” to lack of education? Please. Don’t embarrass yourself.

  27. Val on July 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I try so hard not to read the comments posted in response to news articles and the like. They seem to be written by uneducated persons who aren’t fully informed about the topic. I am an exception to my own rule.
    If Trayvon had been called a creepy-assed n***** by Zimmerman, the sky would have fallen, but because a black person calls a white person a cracker, it’s not called out as demeaning, derogatory, or racist??
    This article is biased as are the majority of the comments.

    • Aria on July 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Val, did black people enslave white people and call the latter “crackers” to describe their “sub-human” nature? I don’t think so. There is no parallel to be drawn because colonialism was a one-way street. And you dare to call yourself “an exception” to lack of education? Please. Don’t embarrass yourself.

  28. Val on July 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I try so hard not to read the comments posted in response to news articles and the like. They seem to be written by uneducated persons who aren’t fully informed about the topic. I am an exception to my own rule.
    If Trayvon had been called a creepy-assed n***** by Zimmerman, the sky would have fallen, but because a black person calls a white person a cracker, it’s not called out as demeaning, derogatory, or racist??
    This article is biased as are the majority of the comments.

    • Aria on July 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Val, did black people enslave white people and call the latter “crackers” to describe their “sub-human” nature? I don’t think so. There is no parallel to be drawn because colonialism was a one-way street. And you dare to call yourself “an exception” to lack of education? Please. Don’t embarrass yourself.

  29. Chas. on July 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    My mother was Irish American, and didn’t like, possible hated, the English. I can understand many Black Americans for not liking, perhaps hating, whites. Was this, perhaps confirmed by the racial slur Martin uttered, the reason Martin attacked Zimmerman?

  30. Chas. on July 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    My mother was Irish American, and didn’t like, possible hated, the English. I can understand many Black Americans for not liking, perhaps hating, whites. Was this, perhaps confirmed by the racial slur Martin uttered, the reason Martin attacked Zimmerman?

  31. Chas. on July 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    My mother was Irish American, and didn’t like, possible hated, the English. I can understand many Black Americans for not liking, perhaps hating, whites. Was this, perhaps confirmed by the racial slur Martin uttered, the reason Martin attacked Zimmerman?

  32. Chas. on July 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    My mother was Irish American, and didn’t like, possible hated, the English. I can understand many Black Americans for not liking, perhaps hating, whites. Was this, perhaps confirmed by the racial slur Martin uttered, the reason Martin attacked Zimmerman?

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