Gridlock

Her name was Sherri. She was a mom with two kids who had had some rough times. She was on probation for possessing some drugs prior to having kids. She had a boyfriend who borrowed her car one time. He had a gun and he left it in the car under the back seat. Sherri got pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The police searched her car and found the gun. They arrested her and charged her with dangerous possession of a weapon while on probation and offered her 2 years in prison. She told the police repeatedly that she had no idea it was in the car and we went to trial. The jury didn’t believe her and later told me they just didn’t like her, and so they found her guilty. Under AZ sentencing laws, she had to go prison for a minimum of 6 years. And that, my friends, is the jury system.

Today as we headed home from beautiful Sedona to Phoenix, we came upon a traffic jam. After sitting still for an hour on the I 17 with 2 children, the public safety officer came up to our car and told us there was a bad accident ahead. He said that we had 2 choices: either stay on the expressway and risk 2-3 hours with possibility of no movement, or to get off at the exit ahead and go back up north. It was a split second decision, and after realizing we all had to go to the bathroom, I got off and turned around. I should point out that my husband was traveling in a different car up ahead and had the privilege of leaving earlier than we did, so he made it home in 2 hours. I followed some strangers and took a different route and arrived home 7 hours later.

As I look at all the George Zimmerman outrage online, I have my own sense of outrage. George owned a gun. Legally. And for all of you that say that he had a constitutional right to own that gun, think about this: he also had a constitutional right to a jury trial. I do not believe that people have a right to own guns. Those who do believe this use the constitution to say that everyone has a right to own a gun. The justification is that we should own guns so we can protect ourselves and our homes. For every 100 stories I see per week about school shootings, crazed gunmen at malls and workplaces, and kids accidentally shooting friends with legally owned guns, I see zero stories about a person who defended himself with a gun from a stranger in their home.

And so, if you are going to be upset that he shot Trayvon (which you should), then you also should be upset about the laws that have been put in place that said he could legally do so. You should be upset that our constitution allows random people with no legal experience to sit on a jury and decide the fate of our citizens. You should be upset that this jury system is very rarely challenged. I have requested bench trials in AZ and the prosecution can insist on a jury. That’s right. If my client chooses to have a judge decide his or her fate, the state has the right to insist on a jury.

So, do not protest and be mad at the jury. They did, unfortunately, follow the law that was written by lawmakers in the state of Florida. Be mad that these laws exist in Florida. Be mad at the politicians that have been elected that make these laws. Be mad that in this country, people with zero training or mental capacity can walk around with a gun, and that these same people can decide your fate if you shoot it. Was it racist? Probably. Is it a horrible travesty? Absolutely. But these same people who are protesting need to focus their energy on things other than trying to kill George Zimmerman. Change laws. Elect new politicians. Fight for positive change instead of adding more negativity. Otherwise, we are stuck in a gridlock that will never end.

Craig insisted over the phone from our cozy house that I get back on the I17 and wait out the traffic jam. It will change, he said. It will let up, he insisted. I chose to go a different route and although it took me longer and I had to deal with anger and tantrums, (some that came from my kids in the backseat, some came from me when I realized their electronics had run out of batteries), I am glad I tried something new. I just looked on the internet and saw that the I17 is still backed up for 20 miles in a dead standstill. No one is moving and nothing is changing.

That will happen to us, too, if we continue to sit here and do nothing. This, to me, is the best way to honor Trayvon.

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