On the evening of February 26, 2012, at approximately 7:16PM, a white vigilante named George Zimmerman, fueled by racial animosity, called police to report that he was suspicious of an African-American child based entirely on his skin color and the hoodie sweatshirt he was wearing. George ignored clear instructions from police and chased down Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed and had been on his way back from a trip to the store to purchase iced tea and Skittles for his younger brother. Zimmerman held Trayvon at gunpoint and allowed him to scream for help for 42 seconds before Zimmerman pulled the trigger, and then he immediately set about constructing a false story of self-defense to cover for his murderous actions.
That’s the story that the State of Florida would like for you to believe. The truth is that almost none of that story is true, and it’s well past time for the State to acknowledge the holes in their narrative and drop the charges against George Zimmerman.
First, there is no evidence that George Zimmerman has a racist bone in his body. When he called the non-emergency dispatcher, he didn’t volunteer information about Trayvon Martin’s skin color, as previously suggested in a recording played over and over again on NBC News that we now know was doctored by NBC staffers to remove the dispatcher’s question to George regarding Trayvon’s race. The dispatcher asked “Okay, is he white, black, or hispanic?” to which Zimmerman replied “He looks black.” There were further attempts to paint George as a racist, with claims that he had used a racially incendiary term on his call with the dispatcher. Those claims were later debunked.
We also know that George Zimmerman had heavily criticized the Sanford police department previously for their failure to arrest the white politically connected son of a Sanford police officer, who had beaten a black homeless man named Sherman Ware. Zimmerman went door to door in that case handing out flyers urging people to take action to see that justice was done. He was also known to mentor black youths in the community.
Zimmerman’s very name may have played a part in the construction of the ‘racist white guy’ narrative that is still pervasive today. In the early days after this incident, there were no pictures of Zimmerman available in the media. It was easy for people, including reporters, to jump to the conclusion that a man named “Zimmerman” was white. Later, when they found out that this conclusion was wrong and that George is actually a combination of white, Hispanic, and black (his mother is Peruvian and a grandfather was African-American), reporters coined the term “White-Hispanic” to continue the non-existent link to white racism.
Perhaps the best evidence regarding the lack of racism that can be attributed to George Zimmerman comes from the FBI. Agents descended on Sanford in the wake of the shooting in March and April of 2012 to interview Zimmerman’s coworkers, friends, and others. In all, they interviewed over 30 people, and not one of them stated that George had ever “displayed any bias, prejudice or irrational attitude against any class of citizen, religious, racial, gender or ethnic groups.”
George Zimmerman is no racist, by any stretch of the imagination.
Another part of the narrative that has been pervasively misreported is the conversation with the dispatcher that evening. Early in the phone call, after taking the description of the suspect (Trayvon Martin) and hearing from Zimmerman that Martin was coming toward his car and appeared to be on drugs, the dispatcher instructed George Zimmerman to “just let me know if this guy does anything else.” About 40 seconds later, Zimmerman told the dispatcher that Martin was running, to which the dispatcher replied “Which way is he running?” Zimmerman, appearing to want to see where Martin was going, simultaneously opened his car door and answered the dispatcher. After 15 seconds during which it was obvious that Zimmerman had exited his vehicle and was moving, the dispatcher said “Are you following him?” When Zimmerman answered in the affirmative, the dispatcher said “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman answered “okay” and stopped moving a few seconds later.
This exchange has been widely misrepresented and is today often reported as an exchange in which the dispatcher commanded Zimmerman not to follow Martin and to either stay in his car or return to his car. The dispatcher’s actual words were not a command, and in fact Zimmerman was already following the dispatcher’s earlier directive to keep him informed if Martin did anything else and also attempting to answer the dispatcher’s question about which way Martin ran. It is also important to note that the dispatcher was not a police officer, and George was under no obligation to follow his instructions that evening. He certainly was not under an obligation to find a hidden meaning in the words “we don’t need you to do that.” The misreporting of this one fact has done more to harm George Zimmerman than any other event from that evening, since today, supporters of the prosecution still make claims like “If George Zimmerman would have stayed in his truck like the police told him to, Trayvon would still be alive.”
Regarding the trip to 7-Eleven, that story was at least partially false. First, in the early days after the incident, the media continued to report (based on a false claim by the family of Trayvon Martin) that Martin had gone to the store at halftime of the NBA All-Star game (which he was watching with his younger brother, Chad), to retrieve tea and Skittles for Chad. The truth is that the NBA All-Star game didn’t start that evening until after Trayvon Martin was already dead. Chad wasn’t his brother (he was Trayvon’s father’s girlfriend’s son), and Trayvon didn’t purchase any iced tea. The iced tea had its origins in a mistaken notation on the police reports that a can of Arizona Iced Tea was found on or near Trayvon’s body. In fact, the officer was mistaken, and we now know (based on crime scene photos) that the can was actually a can of Arizona brand Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. Chad, who was allegedly waiting for his iced tea and Skittles and to watch the remainder of the basketball game with Trayvon, apparently didn’t think anything was odd about the fact that Trayvon didn’t return home.
Why is any of this important? It’s important because Witness 8, the state’s key witness, whose inconsistencies could fill another article, told prosecutors that Trayvon had purchased iced tea at the store that evening, and that Trayvon told her on the phone that he wanted to get home to finish watching the game. It seems odd that Trayvon would have told her that he purchased iced tea when in fact he had bought watermelon drink, and equally odd that he would have told her that he wanted to get home to finish watching a game that hadn’t started yet. However, at the time that Witness 8 was interviewed by prosecutors, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump had already been provided with the police reports that showed officers had (incorrectly) catalogued the can of iced tea, and the Martin family’s false story about the NBA All-Star game was widely reported in the media. Crump and Martin’s family had already had extensive contact with Witness 8. The obvious inference? Witness 8 may have been coached by members of the family or the family’s legal counsel on those issues, since they played right into the false portrayals of that night’s events that were making national news at that time.
Early reports in this case portrayed Trayvon Martin as an innocent child, a good student who wanted to be an astronaut. Pictures released by the family included an elementary school graduation picture and a picture of a clean-cut youngster in a Hollister t-shirt. His parents claimed that the Hollister shirt picture was the most recent picture of Trayvon. In it, Trayvon appeared to be about 14 years old. However, interested bloggers immediately began to comb the internet for other photos of Martin, and they found photos of a much older, much more imposing young man, including some of him making obscene gestures to the camera, and others where he was displaying a wad of money reminiscent of something a drug dealer might possess. More recently, the defense has released photos of Martin that show him holding a gun in his hand, and smoking and growing marijuana. They have also released text messages that show that Martin had a propensity for violence, and liked to brag of his exploits as an MMA style fighter, telling a friend regarding one incident that his opponent didn’t bleed enough and would, therefore, have to face Trayvon again. Trayvon was also attempting to purchase a firearm after his arrival in Sanford.
That much of this information may be withheld from the jury in George Zimmerman’s upcoming trial does not make it irrelevant to the truth about what happened that night. George Zimmerman encountered a troubled young man, who had recently been suspended from school for the third time in one school year – a young man who was most likely high and certainly in no mood to answer questions from George Zimmerman regarding his activities that evening. While it’s possible that Zimmerman may have been mistaken in believing that Martin looked suspicious that evening, this mountain of evidence suggests that he nailed his description of Martin and his behavior.
After Zimmerman hung up with the non-emergency dispatcher, we don’t know a lot about what happened in the next 60 seconds, other than what Zimmerman said in his interviews with police and the 911 calls that were placed during the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin. One thing is clear – Zimmerman has been consistent from the very outset that Martin attacked him, and that Martin was beating his head against the sidewalk to the point where Zimmerman was afraid that he was going to lose consciousness. Zimmerman stated emphatically that he screamed for help and nobody helped him. Zimmerman passed a police-administered voice stress analysis test with no evidence of deception. Listening to the 911 tape that captured the screams and the shooting, it seems obvious to anyone who listens objectively that the screams are those of a person suffering a horrendous beating who was in fear for his life. Those screams are surely the screams of George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin’s own father even told police that those were not the screams of his son.
Those claiming that they are Trayvon Martin’s screams beg the question – why would George Zimmerman hold Trayvon Martin at gunpoint for 42 seconds and allow him to scream for help at least 16 times before finally pulling the trigger to shut Martin up just in time for the police to arrive (police that George Zimmerman had called and was expecting)? That makes no sense, and the physical evidence all supports George Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense. Martin had no injuries, other than the bullet wound, and Zimmerman was bloodied and had an apparent broken nose. The witness who was closest to the action that night claimed immediately to police that it was the guy on the bottom in the red sweater (Zimmerman) who was screaming, and that Martin was on top of him hitting him “MMA ground and pound style.”
The State of Florida, with its unlimited resources and its desire to avoid riots or other troubles that are feared should an acquittal come, has reached out and found a voice “expert” who has concluded that the screams are those of Trayvon Martin. That “expert” goes beyond that, though, and actually claims to hear things that no other expert in the case who has examined the evidence has heard – including the FBI, who concluded that the recording was of such poor quality that it was not usable for voice identification purposes – things like George Zimmerman yelling “These shall be” in the voice of a carnival barker, and Trayvon Martin saying “I’m begging you” just before Zimmerman pulled the trigger. It seems that it should be easy to exclude this witness from ever setting foot in front of the jury to offer such confusing and clearly misleading garbage on the stand, but nobody will be surprised at this point if Judge Debra Nelson lets him testify.
There is much more here to discuss regarding the weakness of the State’s case against George Zimmerman. Prosecutors know all of the facts outlined above, and they know how little their probable cause affidavit has to do with reality. Even if some or most of this evidence about Trayvon’s character is inadmissible in a court of law, it is not off limits for a prosecutor’s use in determining the appropriateness of the charges against George Zimmerman. Perhaps, through the efforts of a corrupt State’s Attorney and the hanging judge who appears determined to railroad Zimmerman to prison and will do so by excluding any discussion of the proclivities of Trayvon Martin toward violence and drugs, the State will win a conviction in this case. If they do so, however, the real loser won’t be George Zimmerman, whose conviction will almost certainly be overturned on appeal. The real loser will be our system of justice in the State of Florida.
It’s time for those who care about such things to stand up for George Zimmerman. Annette Kelly, a blogger who goes by the handle “Nettles18” said it best:
“On February 26th, 2012 George Zimmerman screamed for help. Together, let’s answer him.”