Daily Show host John Oliver took aim at the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict and Florida’s self-defense laws, saying the state has rebranded itself into the worst of the 50.
“I think it might honestly be time for the Sunshine State to officially change its motto,” Oliver said.
“Welcome to Florida: The worst state,” a graphic of a mock roadside welcome sign said as it flashed on the screen behind him.
“Of the many truly depressing things about this case, where a man was found not guilty after admitting pursuing and shooting an unarmed teenager, one is just how unsurprised people seemed to be about the verdict,” Oliver said.
He then played news clips of pundits explaining Florida’s self-defense laws and why a not-guilty verdict was likely in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an armed 17-year-old from Miami Gardens.
“How does 2013 Florida have a law that seems it was cut and pasted from 1881 Tombstone?”
However, the findings of the jury might not be rooted so much in Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law, which can allow a law-abiding person to use deadly force in a confrontation without trying to retreat ahead of time.
Even critics of Stand Your Ground say that the facts of the Zimmerman case – the absence of a witness, a bad prosecution effort – made a conviction tough under a typical self-defense scenario that exists in other states without Stand Your Ground.
Still, a juror told CNN that the jury explicitly discussed Stand Your Ground, which appeared in the standard jury instructions as part of Florida’s self-defense code.
“Let’s be clear, here.” Oliver said. “According to current Florida law, you can get a gun, follow an unarmed minor, call the police, have them explicitly tell you to stop following them, then choose to ignore that, keep following the minor, get into a confrontation with them and, if at any point during that process you get scared, you can shoot the minor to death, and the state of Florida will say, ‘Well, look, you did what you could.’
That statement, however, had an error: Zimmerman was not explicitly told not to follow Trayvon, but was instead told by a dispatcher: “Ok, we don’t need you to do that.”
Oliver also faulted Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, for saying his client wouldn’t have been prosecuted if he were black.
"The one thing that our justice system is notorious for is how lenient it is on black people," Oliver said sarcastically.
The comedian criticized Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, for “expressing a fear about armed vigilantes,” which describes the defendant.
Oliver wrapped up the episode by noting that Florida probably won’t change Stand Your Ground, which has not been “applied rigorously across the board.” He pointed to the case of Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old Jacsksonville woman convicted of gun crimes for firing a warning shot at her estranged husband during a dispute.
"Just because you're shaped like some combination of a gun and a dick doesn't mean you have to act that way," Oliver said
“Has it ever occurred to anyone visiting Orlando that, when Mickey Mouse is waving at you, what he’s actually trying to say is: Please someone get me the f--- out of here, these people are f---ing crazy.”