The index of cases like [the Arbery shooting] seems to point to racial presumptions implicit in how we interpret the concept of self-defense. It is reminiscent of the “gay panic” defense of old, in which violence committed in the name of self-defense was acceptable based on a straight person’s allegedly rational fear that a presumably gay person might assault him. We are living in the age of the black-panic defense.
There was no conviction in the trial of George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, and no charges were brought in the deaths of John Crawford and Tamir Rice. But no one can seriously believe that if two armed black men chased down and shot a white man in Glynn County, Georgia, they would walk around freely for more than two months. Whatever [Alan] Tucker’s motives, his release of the shooting video appears to have accelerated the arrest and charging of the McMichaels with murder and aggravated assault. The efforts to bury the case have failed, but it remains hugely significant that two prosecutors saw the video and thought that the two men should go free. The question is whether a jury of twelve Georgians will agree with them.
– Jelani Cobb in We Are Living in the Age of the Black-Panic Defense