George Zimmerman’s televised second-degree murder trial has captivated America.
Major news networks have caught heavy criticism for carrying nonstop Zimmerman coverage and brushing other news to the side. CNN has devoted an inordinate amount of time to covering the trial, and a graph of Google searches shows drastically more people searched news about Zimmerman than the recent chaos in Egypt.
The Zimmerman trial has huge implications for race relations in America, as he shot an unarmed black teenager he deemed “very suspicious.” Despite the high stakes of the case, the trial esembles a made-for-TV media circus — with embarrassing courtroom fumbles distracting from the gravity of the case.
The trial, now spanning almost three weeks minus jury selection, has included some shocking moments. From expletives to distasteful Instagram photos, we’ve listed the strangest ones.
Prosecutor John Guy opened the trial with an f-bomb that shocked viewers and got some network TV stations in trouble. During his opening statements, Guy quoted Zimmerman from the night of the shooting, saying, “F—ing punks. These a–holes, they always get away.” MSNBC, which has been broadcasting much of the trial, implemented a seven-second delay after the swear word made it through to the broadcast.
The Knock-Knock Joke
The defence also got a lot of attention during opening statements for attorney Don West’s poorly received knock-knock joke. He said to the courtroom: “Sometimes, you have to laugh to keep from crying. So let me, at considerable risk, let me say: I’d like to tell you a little joke. … Here’s how it goes: knock, knock. Who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good, you’re on the jury.” He later apologized.
Rachel Jeantel’s Testimony
Rachel Jeantel, a 19-year-old who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin right before he died, took the stand to testify about what was said during that phone call. Jeantel was considered the prosecution’s star witness, but her testimony became a boon for Zimmerman’s team after inconsistencies in her story emerged. She was mocked online, and The Smoking Gun published a series of incriminating tweets that had been deleted from her account before she testified.
The ‘Celebration Cones’ Instagram Post
defence attorney Don West’s daughter posted a photo to Instagram of her and West eating “celebration” ice cream cones after a day in court. The photo, which had the caption “we beat stupidity,” went viral online the day after Rachel Jeantel testified, although it was taken earlier in the week. Prosecutors later asked for an inquiry into the photo, and West apologized and said he wasn’t aware it had been posted online.
The Skype Testimony That Went Wrong
Several people tried to interrupt the Skype testimony of one of Zimmerman’s former college professors by incessantly calling one of the accounts being used for the session. The testimony had to be halted and defence attorney Mark O’Mara said, “There’s now a really good chance that we’re being toyed with, just so you know.” The judge became visibly frustrated and demanded the defence ditch the Skype session and call the witness on a different number.
The Accidental Leak Of Zimmerman’s Personal Data
Prosecutors inadvertently displayed a document containing Zimmerman’s social security and telephone numbers among other personal information to the courtroom, and the document was aired on CNN. The numbers were mistakenly not redacted from the document before they were displayed in court.
The circus-like televised trial has further polarised public opinion. Conservative columnist Anne Coulter called the situation a “fake case of how racist America is out trying to rape and murder black people.” Days earlier, Fox News “liberal voice” Bob Beckel called Zimmerman a “wannabe cop who didn’t like black people.”
Closing arguments concluded Friday. Many expect the drama to continue after the verdict. The Washington Post reported America has legitimate fears of riots if the jury doesn’t bring back a guilty verdict. One Florida police department even released a public service announcement, entitled “Raise Your Voice, Not Your Hands.”
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