Late Thursday, a jury in San Francisco returned a verdict in the case of the death of Kate Steinle, and it blew up the conservative side of the internet. After a trial that began more than a month ago, on October 23rd, the jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, of second-degree murder in the death of the 32-year-old Pleasanton woman. He was found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and will be deported back to his home country of Mexico.
Normally, the whole country wouldn’t be watching a single murder case in California, a state with a high enough population that murders happen in much greater numbers than nearly anywhere in America. But this case became notorious because of the “illegal alien” element: Garcia Zarate had come to the country illegally not just once, but many times, and had been convicted of felonies before.
All of that made it a high profile enough case that we all got a peek inside the courtroom, as though some celebrity were on trial:
Now, even those factors, of course, are not enough to convict someone of a capital crime. But they were enough to gain the attention of the right-wing in America, and by extension, Donald Trump. The president used the case of Kate Steinle and the fact that San Francisco is a “sanctuary city” — a city that limits its participation in federal immigration enforcement in cases where undocumented immigrants have not committed crimes other than entering the country illegally — as red meat issues for his rabid base during the 2016 election campaign.
It could be said that Trump used this case as his number one example of the reason that he believes America needs a border wall between the US and Mexico.
So you can imagine his reaction when he heard about the result in the case on Thursday:
A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
The truth, however, is that only right-wingers and followers of Donald Trump are outraged tonight. Most people have faith in the court system when it comes to cases not involving privilege. Most people are likelier to be outraged when a police officer who kills an unarmed black person on video and is caught planting evidence on the victim goes free — after all, there’s no deporting corrupt cops.
But like in the case of the Central Park Five, Trump is not satisfied with a verdict that doesn’t match what his racism tells him is real. In 1989, Trump was so convinced of the guilt of the five young brown suspects that he took out full-page ads in more than one newspaper calling for the death penalty — for a rape case — and never backed down. That case was 28 years ago; as little as four years ago, he was still insinuating their guilt, well after they were exonerated:
@CoachClintSwan Tell me, what were they doing in the Park, playing checkers?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2013
And Trump isn’t alone in convicting Garcia Zarate in the court of racism, without regard to what the actual court said. Across the conservative world Thursday night, internet commenters lost their minds:
— Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) December 1, 2017
In Kate’s case the illegal murderer was found innocent by the liberal jury because he was an ILLEGAL & not because he was innocent
— BleedRed (@red_hankelrod) December 1, 2017
This criminal sack of shit who killed Kate Steinle gets away with murder.
The jury reached not guilty b/c the defendant was an ILLEGAL.
Thats the truth.
Fuck San Francisco and the scum that live there.
— NYPatriot (@NWOinPanicMode) December 1, 2017
Here’s the snake that convinced a jury to acquit the murderer of Kate Steinle in California. This is Justice? pic.twitter.com/ZQKOijp3vj
— Dr. Roger Singer (@_rogersinger) December 1, 2017
Unbelievably, some people saw it as even more reason to “secure the borders” between our countries:
#BREAKING The jury has found that the man who murdered Kate Steinle to be not guilty of murder.
Tragic day for justice.
We must secure the borders now.
RIP Kate pic.twitter.com/O9uiCYMxGD
— The Columbia Bugle (@ColumbiaBugle) December 1, 2017
Note that they didn’t say the “suspect” — they said, even after the acquittal, “the man who murdered … not guilty of murder.” It doesn’t even make sense.
But then, nothing makes sense in the era of Donald Trump.
Featured image via Scott Olson/Getty Images