PSA for Zimmerman trial verdict no laugh ‘riot’

George Zimmerman
George Zimmerman (Joe Burbank / Pool / Orlando Sentinel)

As the closing arguments in the murder trial of George Zimmerman get underway, folks are gearing up for what might happen afterwards. To be more specific, people are openly fretting that African Americans will riot if the killer of Trayvon Martin isn’t convicted of something.

For instance, @hitman0321 tweeted last week, “And this whole #zimmermantrial is nothing but a way to have blacks riot,GZ will be found not guilty and there will be a riot trust me,KING?” The King in question is Rodney King, who was beaten by Los Angeles police officers in 1991. Their acquittal sparked riots in that city and elsewhere the following year. And then there was this tweet from @ReverandRon tweeted last week, “I’m not a racist. I’m a realist. The evidence shows blacks are rioting thugs.” There were no follow-up tweets outlining “the evidence,” by the way.

As repugnant and wrong as these views are, law enforcement, especially those in and around Sanford, Fla., are right to prepare for every eventuality. But the public service announcement from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office borders on parody.

By definition, local public service announcements are a mess. Their production values are minimal and the “actors” are stiff and unconvincing. So this effort by the Broward County police fits right in. But, man, the “Raise your voice and not your hands” message gets lost in some serious overacting.

The best thing for everyone to do when the verdict is finally reached is to heed the words of the Martin family. “This is what Sybrina and Tracy have asked everybody in America to do,” attorney Benjamin Crump said about Trayvon’s mother and father, “we will respect the rule of law and we won’t do what George Zimmerman did when he got out of his car, profiled and pursued Trayvon and took the law into his own hands.” It’s as simple as that.

Follow Jonathan Capehart on Twitter.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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Jonathan Bernstein | July 11, 2013