Zimmerman Verdict Sparks Controversy in Valley

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

The verdict in the controversial trial of George Zimmerman sparks strong opinions across the country and in the valley.

The shooting and the trial are often framed in black and white, focused on race. But some in the valley say, with that focus, it is easy to lose sight of its verdict on our society.

For Chanda McGuffin, former president of the Staunton branch of the NAACP, the verdict is not about race.

"I believe Dr. Martin Luther King said, 'Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,'" she said. "This case is about children being killed in the streets of America."

McGuffin said it bothers her that no one is held accountable for Trayvon Martin's death.

But Tyler Caponigro believes the jury made the right decision. There is definitely reasonable doubt, he said, because we will never know exactly what happened.

"The emotional part of it is not important," he said. "That's not part of the law. It should be based strictly on what happened, and not that they think there was a travesty and a 17-year-old was killed. It shouldn't be about that."

McGuffin said she worries about the precedent the verdict sets, the message it sends and what it means for her son, Shaquille.

"I have cried so much," she said, "because he could have been Trayvon. And I just worry about that. I worry about his safety."

She connects the dots between the Casey Anthony trial, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school and the George Zimmerman trial as symptoms of society not doing enough for its kids.

"We still have children dropping out of school," she said. "We still have teenage pregnancy so high. We still have kids dealing drugs. We have kids going to prison. We have so many things, and all of us just keep on going about our daily business until the next Trayvon happens, until the next Casey Anthony happens."

McGuffin said she would like to see communities form Neighborhood Watch groups with a different purpose: to protect and educate each other's kids.

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