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. Anthony in California

    If Zimmerman didn't have a gun... he would be dead today !"


    How about "If Zimmerman didnt STALK, PURSUE, then GET OUT OF HIS CAR TO PROVOKE A FIGHT (while yielding a loaded HANDGUN) then he'd ACTUALLY be ALIVE."

    but no.. lets blame the 17 year old black kid for defending himself.

    August 25, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. john mccain

    Yes he was guilty, but Oj wouldn't have gotten away if the cop was not trying to MAKE him guilty at ALL cost rather than allow the investigation to play out fairly.
    All this would have been avoided if and only if Zimmerman had not tried to be a hero and taken the law into his hands.

    August 25, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Fish

    The case should be forgotten. No matter how unfortunate this young man was the fact is he was hiding in the shadows on purpose for some reason, enough to raise suspicion of Zimmerman who was simply trying to protect his neighborhood. He shouldn't have been armed perhaps and should have let the police handle things without a doubt but can we all say what we would do in similar circumstances??? Hindsight is always 20/20!!!

    August 25, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. sue

    You bet it will be forgotten -with all these young black males killing white people – like an 88 year old man – like shooting a13 month old baby in the head – like 3 15year olds beating up a 13year old in the bus – like those who killed the australian jogger – need I say more?

    August 25, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. HenryMiller

    Powell's decision to question the jury's decision represents questionable judgement on Powell's part.

    August 25, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. Tom in Mass

    Like you, General, I am a Vietnam Vet and we have seen a lot of progress in this country. What we need now is leaders of your race to begin talking to your own about grasping the opportunity, it was not handed to me and it was not handed to you. All of us who have made it in this life worked and sacrificed for the opportunity!

    August 25, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Perhaps Powell is afraid he will be forgotten, so he must comment on current popular topics to remain in the limelight... just in case.

    August 25, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Kevin F. Toon

    I've said this before and I'll say it again. Politicians who were not on the jury, did not know the evidence, did not hear the judge's instructions, did not have anything to do with the trial, have no cause whatever to pronounce a verdict on their own. In my opinion, if the prosecution had not been so anxious to please the Obama administration, they might have preferred a lesser charge. We saw "how well the system worked" in the OJ trial. Were some of these same people celebrating after that verdict?

    It is typical Obama race-baiting. He has no business in these matters. "It could have been me." Not likely, with the billions spent on protecting his person.

    August 25, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Boils down to

    ARMED THUG looking for unarmed minors who defend themselves from imminent danger.

    August 25, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. forgottenman2013

    Reblogged this on The Firewall and commented:
    Colin Powell: It's Time for a Race War

    Instead of discussing the details of the case, Mr. Powell pours gasoline on the fire President Obama started. Instead of promoting peace, he promotes resentment – planting the seeds for future hate and animosity.

    Mr. Powell, the division and injustice you promote is not good for the country when the current President does it, and it won't be good for the country if you were to ever hold that office.

    August 25, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Marie MD

    We have already heard twice from the murderer of Trayvon Martin. That won't be the last unless he confronts another bad guy with a gun.
    With his history of assaulting a police officer and domestic violence this killer should have been kept away from all guns.
    Maybe it wasn't such a good thing that his daddy is a judge who kept him out of jail where he belonged.

    August 25, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. jpmichigan

    Put it to rest! Zimmerman had his trial based on SELF DEFENSE, DUH and the jury found him not guilty. Worry about the killing in Chicago .

    August 25, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. johncando

    Will everone look at George Zimmerman for what he is BLACK/Afro-Peruvian ,not WHITE or Hispanic and if CNN had talked with Georges brother the time he was computer cut off. The sorry black fellow was profiled by a black kid out of Miami as a easy target smashed him in the face and went back to finish the cracker off! He had a good trial but the black kid lost in court as well as the jumping of George. Had Trayvon won this would have been just another Black Miami Kid beating a Black Afro Peruvian Kid.

    August 25, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. justininrome

    Powell – political past – Condi Rice – political future – this has nothing to do with skittles & hoodies – it has everything to do with legacy which Powell has none

    August 25, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. Clarke

    The very sad part about this case, we really don't have the true facts. Not really, The evidence is just not there. We can go on and on about it, but at the end of the day, a young man is dead and there is nothing that will bring him back. Then we have an 88 year old man beaten to death and another young man, shot in the back. Not all people are bad, no matter the race. Color or creed. I hate to see this violence, just as much as everyone else. We can make war out it, or deal with the fact, that there are very bad people out their and they alone are responsible for their actions.

    August 25, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. ghostwriter

    I think Powell is speaking up now to show the hypocrisy inherent to republicans. See how they trounce on the man that at one time was a shoe in for the white house?

    August 25, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  17. Anthony in California

    If Trayvon had a gun also, maybe he wouldve been able to defend himself from a stalker following him in a car in the middle of the night.
    Maybe Trayvon wouldve been able to "stand his own ground" without being shot by a wanna be cop.

    August 25, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  18. rs

    Mr. Powell is the only sane person the GOP could run for President with any hopes of winning.

    August 25, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. Marie MD

    @anonymos, please tell us that you still don't believe the our Presdent is a Muslim? How old are you that you can't think for yourself?
    @ Kim, the killer racially profiled a young black kid because of his race. How dare him walk though "his white" neighborhood. If he had stayed in his truck he would have never gotten way with murder as he did. He's a coward whose gun was ready drawn!
    With his assault of a policeman domestic violence he should have NEVER been alowed to purchase a gun.

    August 25, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  20. rs

    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.
    Mr. Zimmerman provoked the whole event by ignoring advice from the police to harass a young black man who "didn't belong" in his neighborhood. If that is justification in your mind for shooting someone, you have a very warped sense of justice.

    August 25, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. bougiorno

    may i contribute some advice in order for a civilized AMERICA to move forward, we ADAULTS need to put our personal feelings aside and make sure who we elect will take experience, logic, and technology; and integrate the ideas into our society that reflects the reason AMERICA has always overcome and pulled through the tough challenges that have confronted a country with some of the most gifted and talented human beings in existance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    August 25, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  22. Sorkh Razil

    Can we just agree that every black on the planet thinks the jury got it wrong with the Zimmerman trial and move on already?

    August 25, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  23. ED1

    You are starting to be a joke yourself Zimmerman was found not guilty and before the rest of you say anything about stand you ground law in Florida more blacks have been found they acted in self defense than whites just look it unless your still stuck in the 60's.

    Another thing Dr. King fought for civil rights for everyone not just blacks he was a real leader not like Al and Jesse who will do anything to stir up trouble but never say they they were sorry when they proven wrong which is most of the time.

    August 25, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  24. S. B. Stein

    Powell is correct that the Zimmerman verdict is and was wrong. Zimmerman should have spent more time in jail for at least assault with a deadly weapon. He failed to do the smart thing - follow what the dispatcher told him to do which was back off because the police were on their way.

    August 25, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. joey

    Yes worry about the killings in Chicago. The mayor just hired over 300 private citizens to act as "safe passage" assistants to escort black children passing through black neighborhoods to protect them from other black teenagers. So the city taxpayers are paying black people to protect black people from other black people who live in the same neighborhood. Is this what MLK had in mind when he said he had a dream? Here in Chicago, black and other are being shot every other night in great numbers. Every weekend we have anywhere between 30-40 shootings and 4-6 murders. During the 4th of July weekend we had 70 shootings and 12 dead people; all in the west side and the south side; black neighborhoods!

    August 25, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
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