In the US not only can you kill someone because you are motivated by racist hatred and get away with it, (especially if you are white) but you will also become a celebrity. This fact was brought home recently to most Americans when George Zimmerman murdered 17 year-old Trayvon Martin and proceeded to successfully use the “Stand Your Ground” defense to get away with murder.
In Texas this past June, a Muslim man, Ziad Abu Naim, was murdered by Robert Craig Klimek, and like Zimmerman, his lawyers focused on using the “Stand Your Ground” defense. A grand jury declined to indict Klimek.
A killing of a Muslim man in what some are calling road rage, and others a hate crime, is bringing renewed attention to the deadly consequences of Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.
The shooting occurred in Houston on June 26, 2015 when Ziad Abu Naim and his wife, Lisa Aimone, were driving to visit with one of Naim’s business clients on the way to his mosque for Friday prayers. After turning left at a four-way intersection just a block from their home, Abu Naim’s vehicle almost struck another vehicle, driven by Robert Craig Klimek, another Houston resident.
Moments later, as described by Leah Caldwell in a Jan. 4 report for Texas Observer, Abu Naim was on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound:
“[Klimek] made a right turn and pulled alongside Abu Naim’s Porsche SUV. Both men rolled down their windows. Aimone sat forward in her seat to catch a glimpse of the man in the other car, and that’s when she heard it: “Go back to Islam!” Abu Naim opened the door and stepped out of the car. Aimone kept her eyes on his back. Within a few seconds, she heard a single gunshot.”
Abu Naim never recovered consciousness and died in a Houston hospital three days later. Klimek told police he shot Abu Naim after Abu Naim reached inside his vehicle and punched him multiple times, while Aimone insists there was no time for any blows before the fatal gunshot, and that the shouted words point to a possible hate crime.
The right-wing press was in an orgasmic state while reporting the murder of Abu Naim. What makes the right happier than: 1.) A Muslim killed, and 2.) A white guy doing it and getting away with it like in the “good ole’ days ” of lynchings and Jim Crow?
On top of all of this lets remember that Robert Klimek has a history of anti-Muslim rants on Facebook. Yet for some “reason” the prosecution decided this fact was not worthy of pursuing.
Prosecutors also ignored Aimone’s demands that the killing be investigated as a hate crime. Although Caldwell’s investigation found years of anti-Muslim rhetoric posted online by Klimek, Aimone said officials were “dismissive” of the possibility, and added, “It was almost like too much work for them to find something to see if it was a hate crime.”
If the roles were reversed you can bet that Abu Naim would be smeared as a terrorist and an extremist. The prosecutors would move heaven and earth to interpret any Muslim-y pic or post on Abu Naim’s social media as proof that he was an extremist. The right-wing media would be going nuts, blaming Obama and calling for us to bomb Agraba.
This of course is nothing new, racial bias permeates every inch of our justice system. MintPress quotes Prof. Tamara Rice Lave of the University of Miami School of Law on how the expansive Texas Stand your ground law encourages violence against minorities and the double standards involved.
“‘If somebody’s in the car, the ignition is on, the foot is on the gas pedal, then they can easily drive away,’ she said. ‘If it was a white, upper-class mother getting out of her car and approaching a car, [and she were shot], do I think there would be an indictment? Yes, there would be. It makes a difference who the victim is.’”
This is America.