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Mark O’Mara, the no-nonsense attorney for George Zimmerman, took his defense of Zimmerman out of the courtroom this week and deliberately infused race in a trial where racial profiling remains an emotionally explosive issue.

O’Mara is trying hard to drum up support for Zimmerman in the court of public opinion, but I’m not buying it.

In an interview with CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live,” O’Mara portrayed his client as a victim – even though Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during a scuffle on a rainy night in Sanford, Florida last year. It’s hard to make a compelling argument that Zimmerman was the victim when he’s still alive and Trayvon Martin is dead.

O’Mara claims that Zimmerman’s safety is at risk and implied that his client will be looking over his shoulder forever regardless of whether he’s convicted or acquitted.

“First of all, my client will never be safe, because there are a percentage of the population who are angry, they’re upset, and they may well take it out on him,” O’Mara said. “So, he’ll never be safe.”

It was overly dramatic.

And regardless of how O’Mara portrays Zimmeman, several critical facts are  etched in my mind: Trayvon Martin was unarmed. Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin when police told Zimmerman to stand down; he profiled Trayvon anyway for no legitimate reason, he told the police dispatcher that “these assholes always get away,” and then he shot Trayvon in the heart.

That’s a real problem for me.

O’Mara, however, said Zimmerman is innocent and told viewers that fair-minded people – both black and white – should come to the conclusion that Zimmerman is not guilty after reviewing the facts in the case.

Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to second degree murder charges and says he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

“Anybody who pays attention to the facts of this case, listens to the evidence, will not leave that courtroom thinking that George Zimmerman is guilty of anything,” O’Mara said.

“And, if a jury agrees, they should not and cannot be frustrated with the outcome because the State’s put on a good case, we put on a good case, everything that should get out to this jury has been out,” he said.

“If they decide on the facts of the case, we as a society – Black, White, everybody – need to look at this case and say justice was in fact accomplished here, because a fair trial was held.”

Why is O’Mara portraying Zimmerman as a victim of hateful people on national television? Is it desperation or a clever strategy?  And is O’Mara implying that black Americans are the people who are “angry” and “upset” and “may well take it out” on Zimmerman?

I’m disturbed that O’Mara would raise the issue of race in such a flagrant way knowing that the racially-charged trial, at its core, is about racial profiling and Zimmerman, a Hispanic man, killing a black teenager who was not carrying a weapon.

O’Mara should restrict his defense of Zimmerman to the courtroom and save the television theatrics for after the trial.

(Photo: AP)

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