Author: Newman, Alex
Date published: May 7, 2012
Journal code: NEAM
The killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, went largely unnoticed outside of Central Florida for weeks. But when the national press got a hold of the story, political opportunists and professional race-hatred profiteers jumped all over it. Since then, the tragedy has dominated headlines around the world. And the fallout has taken a heavy toll on the nation.
While shooter George Zimmerman had not even been charged with a crime until mid-April, prior to then, much of the establishment media - sometimes using blatant deception, as in the case of NBC editing Zimmerman's 911 call to make it sound as if he targeted Martin because of his race - had already all but determined that he was guilty of murder. Blasting the police, capitalism, white people, self-defense laws, and more, virulent racists of all colors and expert race agitators shamelessly piled on. Polls showed America was deeply divided - a survey released by Reuters April 12, for instance, revealed that more than 90 percent of blacks thought Martin was unjustly killed, while just over a third of whites thought so.
Even though the public did not have the facts in the case, the political opportunism was made easier by shameful demagoguery in the media and among divisive "activists." From the local to the international level, public figures threw fuel on the fire - often revealing their own ignorance in the process. And a broad assortment of special interest groups, including anti-gun zealots, hatemongers, and advocates of increasingly centralized power, seized the moment. The available facts, meanwhile, were largely overlooked.
The Shooting and the Facts
On February 26, after buying some candy at a convenience store, Martin, a black 17-year-old, was walking to the house where his father was staying in a gated community. The residential complex had recently experienced a series of burglaries, so residents were on high alert. Neighborhood Watch captain Zimmerman became suspicious when he observed a rather large character wearing a hoodie walking, according to his account, erratically down the street. He called police to report it.
"We've had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there's a real suspicious guy," Zimmerman told the 91 1 dispatcher. "This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about." When the dispatcher asked about the suspicious man's race, Zimmerman responded: "He looks black."
According to Zimmerman, Martin began walking toward him with his hands in his waist band. "Something's wrong with him. Yep, he's coming to check me out," Zimmerman told the 91 1 dispatcher. "He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is." However, Martin then went the other direction, according to Zimmerman, and Zimmerman eventually told the dispatcher he was walking back to his truck to meet police.
What happened next remains disputed. The dispatcher asked whether Zimmerman was following the suspicious person. When he said yes, the dispatcher responded by saying: "OK, we don't need you to do that." According to some available evidence, Zimmerman may have pursued Martin anyway - at least for a while. Zimmerman, however, said he stopped following Martin, lost track of him, and was on his way to meet law enforcement.
Suddenly, according to Zimmerman, Martin appeared and attacked him - allegedly breaking his nose, smashing his head on the pavement, trying to take his gun, and making threats. Somebody - prosecutors say it was Martin, but other sources including police and witnesses said it was Zimmerman - screamed for help. Nobody responded to break up the fight.
Witnesses, however, said they did see part of what happened. And their statements played a key role in the original decision not to take Zimmerman into custody. "The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: 'help, help!'" a man at the scene named "John," who did not want to be identified by his full name, told a local Fox affiliate. Zimmerman was wearing red that night,
In the midst of the scuffle, Martin ended up being fatally shot in the chest. "When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point," the witness explained. Other witnesses offered similar accounts, according to police.
Zimmerman was taken in for questioning after receiving first aid at the scene, but he was not charged with a crime and was released soon afterward. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee said physical evidence at the scene and witness testimony gathered during a "fair investigation" supported Zimmerman's version of events - essentially that he responded to being attacked and shot in self-defense.
Race, Zimmerman, and Martin
Zimmerman: Much has been written about Zimmerman, 28, and his character - and even more about his race and alleged racism. The son of a white father and a Hispanic mother, Zimmerman was àt first consistently characterized in the press as "white." When it emerged that his mother was from South America, Zimmerman quickly became, in the press at least, "white Hispanic" - a nonsensical term that if applied to Obama, for example, would make him the first "white black" President. Nonetheless, Zimmerman's race has attracted a great deal of scrutiny as collectivists sought to classify him as a member of a "group" to advance the race-based narrative. The agenda had been set.
But was he really racist? Zimmerman's phone call to law enforcement, released by the police department, sparked some accusations that he might have possibly uttered a derogatory term for blacks muffled under his breath. However, analysts dispute that interpretation, and the audio tape is not clear even after being professionally enhanced in a studio.
Meanwhile, people who know Zimmerman - his family, friends, attorney, and others in the neighborhood - categorically denied that he harbored any racist sentiments at all. The black mother of a young teen Zimmerman was mentoring, for example, did not believe he held secret racial animosity. Several reports have noted that Zimmerman, an ardent law-enforcement enthusiast, even raised money for a black church. He also helped lead protests when the white son of a police officer was not charged for beating up a homeless black man.
The press looked into Zimmerman's past and discovered that he had been arrested in 2005 for resisting arrest and battery on a police officer, supposedly for pushing an officer who was questioning his friend. Zimmerman said he did not know the man was a police officer, and the charges were eventually reduced, and then dropped. Later that year, his ex-fiancée sought a restraining order alleging domestic violence, saying Zimmerman had shoved her during an argument. Zimmerman filed his own allegations claiming that the woman had been violent, and both restraining orders were eventually granted.
Martin: As the shooting soared to national notoriety, Zimmerman supporters and independent investigators seized on information about Martin's character to put together a profile on him. People scoured through his Twitter postings, his school records, and more. According to media reports, a white supremacist even hacked his e-mail account in search of information that might make him look bad.
More than a few analysts attempted to paint a picture of Martin as a sort of wanna-be gangster involved in selling drugs. Photos of Martin's "grill" - gold plating on his teeth - helped drive the narrative, as did his Twitter account with the user name "NO_LIMIT_N****" (derogatory term for blacks blanked out). His socialnetworking posts were often filled with expletives and occasionally referenced violence and drug use.
It emerged later that Martin was on suspension from school after being caught with a small bag containing marijuana residue. Some reports even suggested he had been suspected of theft and vandalism. Overall, however, commentators largely agreed that Martin was a fairly ordinary kid - perhaps slightly troubled, as many adolescents are before fully growing up. He was reportedly planning to go to college before his life was cut short that rainy February evening.
Pouring Fuel on the Fire: Media, Government, and "Activists"
The mainstream press seized on the story and painted a severely misleading picture of what happened that night. Zimmerman was portrayed as a racist vigilante lunatic who was out hunting an innocent black boy. Nearly every news outlet publicized years-old pictures of Martin, making him look like a child. The photo of Zimmerman, on the other hand, was a mugshot taken when he was arrested in 2005. (And to be fair to news organizations, these were the only two photos of Zimmerman and Martin available at one of the nation's largest photo providers: AP Images.) And the images undoubtedly helped shape public opinion in the early phases of the scandal over the shooting.
Much of the press rushed to judgment and participated in the scandalous coverage. NBC, however, got caught in what was likely the most extraordinary manipulation of evidence: editing out the 911 dispatcher's question about the suspicious person's race, making it appear as though Zimmerman had mentioned that Martin was black for no obvious reason.
NBC's edited version of the transcript was as follows:
Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."
The actual transcript of Zimmerman's call to the 91 1 dispatcher actually diminished claims that his actions were racially motivated:
Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."
Dispatcher: "OK, and this guy - is he black, white or Hispanic?"
Zimmerman: "He looks black."
The network fired the producer and apologized, but the damage had already been done. Even the establishment media was eventually forced to criticize the deception.
Of course, it was not just the media stirring up hatred and unrest. Sensing opportunity, shameless agitators of all stripes joined in. The usual suspects - race hatemongers Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, for example - descended on Sanford to whip up a mob, making demands and threats as if Zimmerman had already been tried and convicted. Sharpton threatened to unleash civil disobethence. Jackson, meanwhile, absurdly claimed that "blacks are under attack."
Incredibly, even President Obama made race-oriented comments on the case. "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin," he said during a press conference, further inflaming an already-tense situation with what critics called senseless and wildly inappropriate remarks. Swarms of federal agents invaded Sanford in search of "hate" evidence, too.
"Many of you are greatly - and rightly - concerned about the recent shooting death of Trayvon Martin," opined Attorney General Eric Holder in a speech before Al Sharpton 's "National Action Network." "If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action." Holder, of course, famously blamed racism for the ongoing investigation into his deadly guntrafficking scandal "Fast and Furious," while attracting significant criticism after dropping a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.
As if improper federal involvement in the case were not enough - homicide and murder are state issues - the United Nations' ironically titled "High Commissioner for Human Rights" jumped on the bandwagon in April. The UN "Human Rights Council," of course, is composed of some of the most brutal and barbaric dictatorships in existence: The tyrannical regimes ruling over Cuba, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and mainland China, for example, are all represented.
"As High Commissioner for Human Rights, I call for an immediate investigation," Navi Pillay, a South African, told the press, apparently unaware that local, state, and federal investigations were already well under way to determine the facts in the case. "Justice must be done for the victim."
"It's not just this individual case. It calls into question the delivery of justice in all situations like this," she continued, criticizing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law allowing would-be victims to defend themselves and expressing shock that Zimmerman had not been arrested. "The law should operate equally in respect of all violations.... I will be awaiting an investigation and prosecution and trial and of course reparations for the victims concerned." Critics ridiculed and blasted the remarks.
The Fallout: Racists' Hate, and Gun Use
Even as multiple investigations were ongoing, protesters across America gathered to demand Zimmerman's arrest and prosecution for murder. Trouble was brewing.
In late March in South Florida, a group of dozens of young protesters purporting to seek "Justice for Trayvon" ransacked a store. Movie director Spike Lee tweeted an address he believed to be the shooter's in what analysts interpreted as a call to vigilante violence. (The address was incorrect, and the elderly couple at the address received threats.) Across America, vandalism variously praising and blasting Zimmerman began to appear. From Ohio to Florida, several alleged beatings of whites by young blacks shouting "Trayvon" were reported, too. And on April 9, six shots were fired into an empty police cruiser in the neighborhood where Martin was killed.
Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said the town had become a "kindling box." Protesters seeking Zimmerman's arrest even closed down the police department by blocking the door. Law-enforcement officials, however, noted the same day that there had not been indications of real violence and that protests had been peaceful so far.
Racists: Meanwhile, black and white racist groups, including the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) and the "National Socialist Movement" (NSM) - both believed to be infiltrated by federal agencies - used the turmoil too, claiming to be preparing for an all-out "race war." As self-styled "civil rights" activists turned up the rhetoric, they were soon joined by scores of virulent racists. (Their words only serve to exacerbate whatever racial tensions exist and provide a rationale for federal intervention.) The NBPP offered a $10,000 "bounty" for Zimmerman's capture, demanded that blacks go out and find him, and distributed "Wanted - Dead or Alive" posters throughout the area.
Leaders of the group - which according to experts has been improperly shielded from prosecution by the Obama administration - were even caught during a conference call advocating a "race war," "revolution," "bloodshed," and the murder of whites. White racists in the NSM responded with a call to arms, too. The NBPP, the NSM, and their affiliates all came under fire for openly proclaiming that a "race war" was coming and that they intended to participate in the slaughter. Residents were obviously alarmed, and more calls for "hate crimes" prosecutions went up. But tensions only grew.
In a recording of the NBPP conference call obtained by the conservative media service Breitbart.com, leaders of the NBPP black supremacist group described their preparations for imminent "bloodshed." One activist participating in the call advocated the complete destruction of capitalism and "class structure," urging other members to begin stockpiling military weaponry and start training to use it.
"Black power! I just wanna say to all the listeners that's on this phone call: If you are having any doubts about getting suited, booted, and armed up for this race war that we in, that has never ended, let me tell you something, the things that's about to happen to these honkies, these crackers, these [police] pigs, these pink people, these ***** ****** purple people, it has been long overdue," said a woman who identified herself as NBPP Tampa chapter "Chief of Staff' Michelle Williams.
Another call participant then spoke of blood and revolution. "We gotta suit up and boot up, and get prepared for the war that we're in," said the man, identified in a recording of the call as "Nation Spokesman of the New Black Panther Party" Chawn Kweli. "This stuff got to boil over, and all your greats talked about there having to be bloodshed involved with revolution - true revolution means some bloodshed.... We gotta go through it.... We're talking about some blood. We're going to have to cause some blood and go through some blood and battles."
Petitioners, activists, and shooter George Zimmerman's family all called on race-obsessed Attorney General Holder to arrest and prosecute the NBPP leadership involved in inciting violence. "I am writing you to ask you why, when the law of the land is crystal clear, is your office not arresting the New Black Panthers for hate crimes?" an unidentified member of Zimmerman's family wrote in a letter to Holder. "I would surmise that, based on your own definition of a hate crime, you have chosen not to arrest these individuals based solely on your race."
On the other side, white supremacists claimed to be organizing "armed patrols" to supposedly "defend whites." The neoNazi group NSM, long known to be filled with federal agents - or government agents provocateurs, as some analysts characterize them - made public statements suggesting that it, too, was planning to parade around Florida in anticipation of a "race war."
"The NSM does not disagree with the Panthers on the matter of Racial separation, however their ability to openly and very publicly break the law and avoid prosecution is something that is of grave concern to the White Community," socalled NSM "Commander" Jeff Schoep wrote in a statement posted online, claiming his "patrols" would be operating within the law. "As citizens and neighbors dissolve along Racial lines, the possibility of further Racial violence in the Melting Pot is brimming over like a powder keg ready to explode into the streets."
The self-styled "Commander" told the Miami New Times that the group's armed "patrols" consisted of 10 to 20 "volunteers" from around the state, though it remains unclear whether there really were any white supremacists on patrol. "We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it," he was quoted as saying. "We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over."
Guns: Beyond white and black socialist racists calling for war, other antiliberty activists, meanwhile, shamelessly blamed their political opponents for the killing. "This tragic shooting represents the National Rifle Association's vision for America," claimed Brady Campaign boss Dan Gross in a statement. "Trayvon's life has been lost not because of an accident, but because of the easy access to a gun by a violent person permitted by a state with weak gun laws."
Others attacked the right to self-defense itself. More than a few political opportunists, for example, used the tragedy to attack the popular "Stand Your Ground" law. The legislation, signed into law by then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, protects people acting in self-defense. Nearly every media outlet prefaced mentions of the law - which exists in some 20 states and was enacted with broad public support - by calling it "controversial."
The law, however, simply recognizes the long-standing right to defend one's self in the face of attack. "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity . . . has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony," the law states.
The Governor of Florida responded to the manufactured controversy by creating a "task force" to examine the law. And anti-self-defense extremists in the state and across America - as well as some prosecutors paid by taxpayers to enforce the law - even began pushing to have "Stand Your Ground" undone. "I think it's a poorly written law that's had some consequences that people are just starting to figure out," claimed Art Hayhoe, executive director of the antiSecond Amendment group Floridians for Gun Safety. "This case is a classic case of what's wrong with 'Stand Your Ground.' We're going for repeal."
Meanwhile, special committees and taskforces started investigating a range of laws and issues to determine whether anything should change. Lawmakers in Congress were working on a range of different unconstitutional bills dealing with everything from state self-defense laws to local neighborhood watch programs. And experts say there will undoubtedly be some legal fallout in the aftermath of the shooting.
Charges and Justice
On April 1 1 , Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey announced that Zimmerman was being charged with second-degree murder. Even advocates of his immediate arrest and prosecution were surprised by the severity of the charges. If convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison. However, legal experts largely believe murder will be hard to prove - if not impossible. More than a few analysts suggested the state was seeking the murder charge to make it easier to obtain a plea bargain or a conviction for a lesser charge like manslaughter later on.
The next day, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, suggested that even she realized the charges were over the top. "I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn't turn the clock back," she said during a TV interview after the murder charge was announced. After the statement was picked up by media outlets nationwide, however, she later "clarified" her remarks. "George Zimmerman stalked my son and murdered him in cold blood," she alleged in the statement, almost certainly under pressure from her attorney and the hatemongers who staked their embattled reputations on the case.
The charge against Zimmerman could actually be thrown out before it goes to trial. In Florida, the law allows somebody claiming self-defense to make his case before a judge. If the judge believes the preponderance of evidence - a lower standard than juries' "beyond a reasonable doubt" - shows the shooting was indeed justified under the law, the case can be immediately dropped. And more than a few legal experts believe that could happen in this case. Zimmerman's arraignment is scheduled for May 29.
While the facts are expected to eventually come out, some analysts wonder whether justice can truly be served at this point. With so much hysteria and disinformation having been peddled even by national media outlets, numerous experts have suggested the possibility of finding an impartial jury is probably slim. With the special prosecutor's announcement, public calls for disorder have been toned down. But if Zimmerman is eventually cleared of wrongdoing, that could all change in an instant.
Black and white pastors in Florida have called for unity and calm - saying the issue had nothing to do with race and that justice and due process should be allowed to work.
In a press conference in Sanford after the charges were announced, the coalition of church leaders asked for God's blessing and divine assistance in healing the community and the nation, and in bringing everyone together. It is to be hoped that those prayers will be answered.