On a list of people who’ve stood behind Colin Kaepernick in his protest against police brutality and racial injustice, the name Mark O’Mara would have to be the least likely.
O’Mara is the attorney who represented George Zimmerman and won his acquittal in the 2013 murder trial of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, a case that touched off a racially divisive media frenzy which in many ways spawned the very idea of Kaepernick’s stance.
But what’s been lost in all the controversy surrounding the Zimmerman case, O’Mara says, is his belief that the scales of justice are far from balanced when it comes to minorities and people of color in America.
“No question,” O’Mara says. “The system is biased against black members of the community. Oppression has a nice tone to it because it’s an emotional word. If we dissect the word – for reasons of the system instead of the self – well yeah, that’s what implicit bias is: a systemic degrading.”
O’Mara admits to disagreeing with Kaepernick’s methods, but says he can’t argue with the message of glaring inequality in the criminal justice system. It’s one he comes across on a daily basis in his line of work.
“If my client base is 30 percent black, let’s just say, and 15 percent of the people in my area are black, what does that tell you?” O’Mara explains. “I’m not seeking blacks to represent. They are being dragged into criminal justice system higher than they should be.”
Kaepernick has blamed the bulk of the problem on police brutality, but while O’Mara agrees that police have been complicit in their bias, he says police bias can escalate into the use of potentially deadly force. And police, like the rest of us, O’Mara contends, approach their jobs with predisposed views of people, which is exactly where the problem lies.