It is hard to believe that the word “lynching” is being used in 2013 to describe an action taken by not one individual, but a group of people chosen to perform a duty bestowed upon those who live in a Democratic society. Chosen as peers, a group of six women sat and heard testimony in Sanford, Fla., in the Trayvon Martin case, holding the fate of George Zimmerman in their hands. Accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of this defenseless, unarmed child, the jury found Zimmerman’s actions without criminal liability or culpability.
The word “lynching,” although it draws forth images unwanted in modern times, has once again reared its head, baring its teeth and opening wounds not yet healed. Reincarnated in print, protest and water-cooler conversation, the lynching of the defenseless Trayvon Martin, slain as he tried to return home, shot and killed for his choice of clothing and perhaps the color of his skin, has people again questioning the foundational security guaranteed to every citizen as civil rights. Americans, at least those who believe in a Democratic society, prefer that terms such as racism, discrimination and yes, lynching, would best be lain to rest, relegated to the pages of history books as lessons learned.
The Civil Rights Movement may no longer be a closed chapter in history. Discrimination was recently put down by the highest court of the land. DOMA was struck down and many people reaching across wide swathes of society celebrated the rights of all citizens to choose their own partners. DOMA was a step forward.
The Zimmerman verdict was not. Protestors took to the streets immediately after the verdict, spawning gatherings across the country. Demanding justice, civil rights activists called for federal charges. Rumblings of unrest reached were heard.
On Sunday, the Justice Department announced it will review the facts of the Trayvon Martin case to determine if civil rights charges should be brought against the man who exacted the child’s death.