Powell questions Zimmerman verdict; suggests case will be forgotten
August 25th, 2013
10:53 AM ET
7 years ago

Powell questions Zimmerman verdict; suggests case will be forgotten

(CNN) – A jury’s decision in July to acquit George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin represented “questionable judgment,” former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview aired Sunday.

But the retired four-star general, who was the first African-American to serve in the top U.S. diplomatic post, went on to suggest the case wouldn’t have a lasting impact on Americans’ lives.

“I don't know if it will have staying power,” he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

“These cases come along, and they blaze across the midnight sky and then after a period of time, they're forgotten,” he said.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Martin in February 2012, was acquitted by a jury in July on state criminal charges. The case sparked a nationwide discussion of race. Martin was an unarmed black teenager, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

After the verdict, President Barack Obama delivered a personal statement about the case, delving deeply into issues of race and justice, and connecting the difficulties facing American-American men to situations he himself had faced.

Powell said Sunday he’d like Obama to “be more passionate about race questions.”

“In my lifetime, over a long career in public life, you know, I've been refused access to restaurants where I couldn't eat, even though I just came back from Vietnam. ‘We can't give you a hamburger, come back some other time,’” Powell said, adding that while progress has been made toward racial equality, there is still work to be done.

“We're not there yet,” he said. “And so we've got to keep working on it. And for the president to speak out on it is appropriate. I think all leaders, black and white, should speak out on this issue."

Filed under: Colin Powell
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. karen

    Did you ask Powell about his email relationship with the Romanian female diplomat?

    August 25, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Just a thought

    OH no General your party will hate you for telling the truth. Better get out of the party of "not actually facts, but faux news lies" before its too late

    August 25, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Anonymous

    i once respected powell as an America but his backing of the black muslim has changed my mind. now his questioning of the American justice system supports my decision.

    August 25, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Just a thought

    How does any person with even a reasonable amount of common sense stay in this very vapid party of jackels and fools call the GOP/Tea party....just makes no sense what so ever if you've actually graduated the 6th grade.

    August 25, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. Robert

    I wonder if Colon Powell thought the O. J. acquittal was questionable judgement.

    August 25, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. MaryM

    Mr Powel. Any chance of you running for Office in 2016?

    August 25, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. don in albuquerque

    Very sad, but probably true.

    August 25, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |

    iIt's amazing how many black Americans kill every week ....ie the Australian baseball player here studying, and many others and many others, and others do bad....If Zimmerman didn't have a gun... he would be dead today !

    August 25, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Romy Monteyro

    The verdict on the Zimmerman case would not seem questionable to Colin Powell if Trayvon Martin happened to be white. What is questionaable is Powell himself. Would he have been named to the top posts he held if it was not for poitical correctness? I doubt it. Powell wasn't good enough for West Point. His military training prior to being commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army was through the ROTC program of an obscure New York City college. His performance in Vietnam was not notable. Like the Obamas, he was a product of Affirmative Action. He was tapped for the position of National Security adviser to President Reagan mainly because he was black. Now, before you call me a racist, let me say that Condoleeza Rice was an excellent choice for all the positions she occupied especially Secretary of State, nd I believe she would make a good president too. Colin Powell's perfrormance record was mediocre at best, but Ms. Rice's was definitely A-One! In my book, whatever Powell has to say on any issue means nothing. He clearly showed the measure of his intelligence when he endorsed Obama for president, not once but twice! It takes one to know one.

    August 25, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. sangjmoon

    The national discussion we need to have is on the violence inflicted by young black males especially on other young black males. Trayvon Martin, who chose to attack Zimmerman, and others who have made the news recently for killing the Australian baseball player and the WWII veteran, are just the side effects of this huge problem. Until the parents get on board to keep their sons in line and make academic success a priority, this problem will just keep perpetuating itself.

    August 25, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Joan

    George Zimmerman and the members of the jury have a lot to live with for the rest of their lives. Zimmerman knows he was wrong and killed an unarmed young teenager. He is still one of the most hated men in the country. The all woman jury which was made up of five whites and one coloured have to live with the fact that they made a terrible judgement. The rest of America was watching all of the details and was stunned with their verdict. Florida has a very weird justice system. If Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman can get off then who does really face justice there?

    August 25, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Leo Smith

    What a shame that this once reputable man would feel the need to weigh in on something as ludicrous as this. There was a TRIAL. Zimmerman was acquitted. Travon was a Thug. The thug is dead because he was a fool that attacked an armed community watch patrolman. This is done and over. Except for all the Black on white crimes that has happened because of it. Hypocrisy lives on .

    August 25, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. Kim

    Trayvon should be alive so he could be in prison for assault and attempted murder of George ZImmerman. As pretty as he was he would have been popular at Latosha

    August 25, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. Anthony in California

    Yup, THIS was one of your last hopes Republicans. Better pray someone like him emerges in the next 5 years or this party is toast. Huntsman?

    August 25, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Tony

    If a black person had walked out of his car with a gun, followed an unarmed white person, lost sight of him, told a police dispatcher on the phone that he was following a white person, was told by the police dispatcher not to follow the white person, went on to have a fight with the white person anyway and shot him to death, the police would have arrested the black person. The idea that the person with a gun was standing his ground, even though he was following an unarmed person, would never have come up.

    August 25, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |

    The unhinged Guns Over People anklebiters with their hair on fire would just scream " He's dividing Americans" if he did so why bother? FoxLies will play the race card regardless.

    August 25, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Eric

    Many far better people have been killed for far worse reasons than Travon Martin died.

    – The girl who was at the inauguration who caught a stray bullet
    – The Australian ballplayer here to study, shot for no reason
    – The WWII veteran beaten to death for no reason

    If you want to stand up an demand prison for George Zimmerman, I'm waiting for you to demand as bad or worse for every one of the killers in the three cases I just mentioned.

    I realized that most of the guilty in my three cases are black, but fair is fair, either be fair or stay out of it.

    August 25, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. Martha

    The only thing "questionable" about the Zimmerman trial is: "Why was he charged in the first place?". It was a clear-cut, unambiguous case of self-defense. Had Martin not died he would have been imprisoned for attempted murder.

    August 25, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Greg

    Maybe he can't think of any cases like the Trayvon Martin case because THEY DON'T EXIST.

    August 25, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. Lori

    I also was a big fan of Colin Powell, but not after this–it IS appropriate for a president to comment on racial issues (that means black vs white and white vs black - and any other race for that matter) but for Obama to stick up for Trayvon Martin is WRONG. It's funny how Powell says this matter will be forgotten - so will the senseless murder of the young man in Oklahoma going out for a jog and so will the senseless beating and murder of an 88 year old man in Washington state. How sad we humans are today!! And how sad that the black issue has been carried so far that even half black half white individuals almost always consider themselves black! What's with that? People are people no matter their skin color. But I'm waiting for Obama to state that these young black men who murdered could have been his sons. I'm waiting for Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson to come forward and make some comment about how innocent they were/are. Everyone is equal.

    August 25, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. Henry Himmel

    Not surprised Powell would come out on the side of the black man. New Nation.org keeps track of black crime the media refuses to cover. Once we realize who the enemy is, then we can defeat them. Equal men are not free, free men are not equal.

    August 25, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Marcus

    GERALD D SEGAL, Leo Smith and Kim – Ever heard of Emmet Till (I hope is that how his name is spelled)?
    Young black kid who dared to whistle when he was not supposed to, killed by a bunch of white guys that went to a trial (all white jury of course) and they got acquitted?
    Fact is that when a mockery of justice is served people tend to get mad about it.
    Gerald – If Zimmerman didn't have a gun... he would have had to deal with a broken nose that he got WHEN he decided to go after a guy who he thought didn't deserved to be in his neighborhood.
    Leo Smith – Besides Zimmermans word, what prove do you have that he was attacked?
    Kim – Hyperbole much, assault and battery would have been the charges IF Zimmerman managed to prove that HE was the attacked and not the attacker.

    August 25, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    @Anonymous: "i once respected powell as an America but his backing of the black muslim has changed my mind."

    Wow, I hope for your sake you're being sarcastic. To think that President Obama is a Muslim (and if he were, what's wrong with that?) is truly delusional.

    August 25, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    @Kim: "Trayvon should be alive so he could be in prison for assault and attempted murder of George ZImmerman. "

    If Trayvon were alive, he would have been able to tell the jury his side of the story – of how Zimmerman pursued him and threatened him and made him fear for his life.

    He'd also be able to corroborate the FACT that the coroner did NOT find any of Zimmerman's DNA on his hands – even though Zimmerman claims that Trayvon hit him in the face.

    August 25, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Zerubbabel

    The racist vitriole is mind numbing. I just did not know that stupid was so prevalent in America. I would like to hear those who spout the stupidity and hatred in 25 years when the shoe is on the other foot. This country was taken from people of color and built on the backs of people of color. Now people of color are receiving their just wages. They will be the new majority, scary huh? Afraid that you will get what you have given for so long? You reap what you sow

    August 25, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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