Thursday, June 27, 2013
But I will post an article from The Atlantic which I found quite interesting:
"Rachel Jeantel was on the phone with Trayvon Martin minutes before George Zimmerman shot and killed him, and she could make or break a murder case that was supposed to be microcosm for race and violence in this country. Rachel Jeantel was also on every cable news network in America for upwards of six hours today in her second straight day on the witness stand, and she really didn't want to be. But that didn't stop Zimmerman's defense attorney, Don West, from repeatedly saying Jeantel was "lying" about Martin's description of his client as a "crazy-ass cracker." And that certainly didn't stop a lot of people on the Internet from watching and laughing at a "dumb and stupid" 19-year-old black girl from the Florida "hood" as she, apparently, handed the case over to Zimmerman.
Kato Kaelin she most certainly is not, but the grilling of Rachel Jeantel today reveals the sad new reality of the Trayvon Martin case as it turns from national conversation into courthouse spectacle: With every televised eye roll, sigh, and deep breath Jeantel takes in the trial this week, we are continuing to bridge the divides so many people saw after those three gun shots outside a gated community two years ago. Can we not just let her be the last friend who spoke to Trayvon? Or must the Trayvon Martin case have its Charles Ramsey/Sugar Brown/Antoine Dodson sideshow character before it can have real justice?
It is a complex puzzle of race, class, and the law, perhaps best put together by Jeantel herself today on the stand at Seminole County Circuit Court in Sanford, Florida:
A predominantly white jury is not going to like Rachel Jeantel. Let's just be real here," Global Grind's Rachel Samara wrote in a powerful essay ahead of today's questioning by the defense. "They won't understand her, especially not her defensive nature, and this will unfortunately work against her. Even though it shouldn't." They didn't, and it did, as the young woman of Haitian descent struggled to make eye contact and grew increasingly bothered by West's increasingly piercing questions about why she had changed her story to remove slang and muddled earlier answers about personal details — indeed, as a nation watching did little else but pile on.
West wasn't wrong about the facts, exactly. Prior to the trial, Jeantel did lie. She lied about going to Martin's memorial service, and she lied about her name, all because she says she didn't want to get dragged into a very public case. She also lied about how old she was: "Jeantel, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, admitted that she lied about her age, claiming to be a minor because she did not want to get involved," writes The Huffington Post's Danielle Cadet, who explains that Jeantel thought minors would get more privacy.
But after the prosecution got the basics out of their key witness on Wednesday, the defense's strategy in the all-day show trial today was clear through hours upon hours of questioning: West wants to connect Jeantel's confusion about herself with an apparent confusion about her story of that fateful night, which paints Zimmerman as the aggressor. West repeatedly asked Jeantel today why she failed to tell Martin's mother, during an interview with the family's lawyer in March, that Martin had described Zimmerman on the phone call as a "creepy-ass cracker" who was following him. West asked her if she had "cleaned up" the language of the call so as not to hurt his mother's feelings. "Yes, sir," Jeantel testified, barely making eye-contact with West, and she barely did all day. Her testimony was also littered with interruptions from the court reporter, who was making absolutely sure she understood Jeantel's mumbled words.
Rachel Jeantel did not fit in with this courtroom where she very much matters.And the defense really likes that "creepy-ass cracker" line that Martin delivered to his friend. West and his team have accused Jeantel in front of the cameras not so much of toning things down for the mother of dead 16-year-old as that Martin's slang somehow had some deeper meaning. The implication, in this transforming trial, has become that Trayvon Martin was the racist for calling George Zimmerman a "cracker," rather than that Zimmerman was a "creepy-ass" neighborhood watchmen who shot and killed a black kid after he bought some Skittles and an iced tea.
And the defense team has further implied that if Jeantel were really the prosecution's star witness, she'd be able to explain this key line — and the whole call — a little better. But Rachel Jeantel isn't your average TV-ready star witness. Apparently, the defense has made her look, for all the world to see, like a dumb girl who can't keep her story straight: