The focus may be on race the day after George Zimmerman was acquitted, but in the end, the case could set off more off alarms about the state's power.
About race, civil rights leaders were sending conflicting signals that will have people talking for decades about the case.
Before the verdict, Benjamin Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin's family, told CNN that the case wasn't about black and white but right and wrong. The state didn't charge Zimmerman with racially profiling Trayvon, Crump stressed.
After the verdict, Crump saluted the slain teen in racial terms. Trayvon "will forever remain in the annals of history next to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till as symbols for the fight for equal justice for all," Crump said. Evers and Till are civil rights icons.
Such comparisons will invite closer looks at Trayvon's life. What will that do to his legacy?
On NBC's "Meet the Press," the Rev. Al Sharpton said the issue should go to the U.S. Justice Department, which could file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. Sharpton said the basis would be Zimmerman's disparaging comments about Trayvon before the shooting.
But Savannah Guthrie of "Today" seemed to question Sharpton's take on the issue by noting that hate and a depraved mind would be key in a hate-crimes charge. And jurors rejected that view of Zimmerman in acquitting him of second-degree murder.
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said he understood that an earlier Department of Justice investigation found that the fatal shooting wasn't race-based. On "Central Florida Spotlight," Sheaffer cited two more problems: A new investigation would be problematic because the state of Florida has conceded that Zimmerman wasn't racial profiling Trayvon. Sheaffer also doubted that the U.S. government would want to undermine the jury verdict.
Analysts took pains to strip away emotion and explain the verdict. The ultimate issue in the case was basic self-defense, Guthrie said, and it was the prosecution's burden to disprove self-defense.
"It's not necessarily that jurors, by their verdict, are saying we believe George Zimmerman acted in self-defense," Guthrie said. "What they're saying is we don't believe that the prosecutors proved he didn't act in self-defense."
On ABC's "This Week," Dan Abrams put the legal question in the case this way: "Was there reasonable doubt about the moment that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin? And the question there was: Did George Zimmerman reasonably believe that great bodily injury was going to be inflicted on him? And there was a lot of evidence in this case that Trayvon Martin had beaten George Zimmerman."
In looking at the moment Zimmerman shot Trayvon and the evidence that he had been beaten by Trayvon, "it was difficult to see how the prosecution was going to win this case," Abrams said.
The prosecution is going to be a major story in days to come. The state put on a disastrous case, most legal analysts agreed. WFTV's Sheaffer said it was "a strategic blunder" that the state presented Zimmerman's self-serving, hearsay statements, making it unnecessary for Zimmerman to take the stand and be cross-examined.
Prosecutors tried to recover at the end with John Guy's fiery rebuttal aimed at the jurors' emotions. But jurors ultimately rejected that approach.
The TV analysts, who provided an education throughout the trial, emphasized that the law should be about evidence and facts, not emotion.
The analysts derided special prosecutor Angela Corey for her pandering and her bizarre methods, then ripped her post-verdict comments as passing the buck.
The analysts questioned the strange way in which Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon's friend, was questioned by law enforcement in Trayvon's home while Trayvon's mother watched.
The analysts castigated the way prosecutors thwarted the defense by not turning over materials in a timely matter. The defense ripped the prosecution as a fiasco and a travesty.
The state's win-at-all-costs style will be studied for decades to come. Former prosecutor Wendy Murphy told CNN that the state's performance struck her as a bit unethical.
"As a prosecutor, I was offended at how emotional the prosecution side was," Murphy said. "That's not what they're supposed to do. The public may feel that way. But the prosecution is supposed to rise above intense sentiment and really just play it straight. They did not do that."
The legacy of Trayvon Martin may be far more diverse than civil rights leaders envision. Another part of the legacy: When the state gets involved, watch out.
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Watch video from the courthouse as the jury considered the case.
Read about the verbal dispute that occurred at the courthouse.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun