Financial Times Column Spins Trayvon Martin In His Grave: Commission By Omission
A column in The Financial Times' July 20/21 weekend edition under the headline "A civil rights chase of Zimmerman is doomed to failure" spins Trayvon Martin in his grave.
Will the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, who was acquitted July 13 by a jury in Sanford, Florida on second degree and manslaughter charges in the death of Trayvon Martin?
That question will be answered in time.
Certainly, Zimmerman supporters are entitled to voice opposition to the filing of any charges. But it's one thing to object to an investigation by the DOJ under Attorney General Eric Holder and a totally different thing to spin the story to show Martin as culpable in his own killing, with a bullet in his heart from Zimmerman.
The case against Zimmerman was straight forward. These are the facts that both sides can agree on:
On the night of February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman spotted Trayvon Martin who was walking on foot during a light drizzle. He had just bought skittles and a soda and was returning to his father's home -- he'd been visiting with him.
Zimmerman called the Sanford Police and complained of a suspicious individual, referring to Martin. The suspicion wasn't based on Martin's behavior except for the fact that he was Black, unknown to him and in "his" neighborhood. While on the phone with the Police dispatcher Zimmerman also complained that the "fucking punks" always got away; meaning he placed Martin, whom he'd just observed, in the same category of previous Black burglary suspects who'd gotten away in the past.
Zimmerman was told by the Police dispatcher not to follow Trayvon Martin. He ignored the instruction from the Police Department and pursued Martin.
Now we have a 28-year-old stalker of mixed Latino and White ancestry stalking a teenager after he'd just complained on his police call that the "fucking punks" always got away and after he'd been instructed not to follow.
We can see where such a scenario is heading given that the stalker, wrongfully, believes he's pursuing a burglar.
By the time Police arrived on the scene Zimmerman had shot and killed Martin.
This is the narrative that neither side disputes.
So at the very least, Zimmerman should have been found guilty of manslaughter if not second degree murder, for stalking and shooting an unarmed teen who was returning home from a store. Who doesn't believe that Zimmerman would have been convicted if he had killed an unarmed White teen? Who believes Zimmerman would have shot Trayvon Martin in the first place had he been a White teen?
Now let's review the account of the murderous encounter offered by Christopher Caldwell, a senior editor in The Weekly Standard -- described as a "neo conservative bible" -- in his Financial Times column.
He starts of critical of Holder who has announced an investigation into the case to review whether it warrants filing charges and then he paints a scenario, leaving out critical facts, that leaves the impression that Zimmerman was clearly justified in the actions he took.
Caldwell writes that the townhouse development where Zimmerman lived had been "plagued by burglaries" to presumably justify the gunman's actions; this same point can be used to suggest that Zimmerman had a prejudiced mindset the minute he saw Trayvon Martin.
"Mr. Zimmerman saw Martin walking slowly in a rainstorm in a seldom traveled part of the neighborhood," Caldwell writes, "He found it suspicious."
There was no rainstorm; it was drizzling. Caldwell writes this in order to rationalize why Zimmerman followed Martin, other than the fact that the teenager was Black.
Not surprisingly, nowhere in his slam-job does Caldwell mention that Zimmerman lamented to the Police dispatcher that the "fucking punks" always got away; he also doesn't mention the fact that Police instructed Zimmerman not to follow the teenager.
"By the time they arrived, six minutes later, the two had struggled violently and Martin was dead," Caldwell adds, omitting the crucial fact that Martin had been shot dead by Zimmerman.
Caldwell also writes that Trayvon Martin ran when he saw Zimmerman without mentioning that the teen was afraid for his life. Martin had been on the phone with a female friend, Rachel Jeantel, and described being followed by the "creepy" Zimmerman, whose actions had alarmed the boy.
Obviously, one ends up with a very different impression of the encounter if Caldwell's account was accurate. Clearly, he's tailored it to fit what he writes next: "Mr. Zimmerman's case that he was defending himself appeared strong. Police didn't even arrest him. But there is a lobby for racial justice that can be summoned into action at a moment's notice and to them this shooting of an unarmed black teenager carried an echo of segregationist violence."
Might it be possible that Zimmerman was not arrested because his father, Robert Zimmerman, Sr., is a retired judge from the area and is well-known there?
The police officers knew Zimmerman as a result of the 52 or so phone calls he'd placed between the years 2004 and 2013. According to Police Records Zimmerman's calls ranged from complaints about a vehicle cutting off other drivers to an April 22, 2011 call about "suspicious activity" by a "black male" who was about seven or nine years old and was of “skinny build" and had short black hair. Like the seven or nine year old Zimmerman had called about nearly a year earlier, Trayvon was also of "skinny build."
Zimmerman clearly had racially profiled Trayvon Martin.
Of course these prior calls were never mentioned, not even once, in Caldwell's hatchet job in The Financial Times column.
Then talk about convicting a victim, when Caldwell then continues: "Mr. Zimmerman's acquittal does not mean that Martin was guilty of any crime or even misdeed. But one thing is clear: not a shred of evidence emerged at trial to indicate that Mr. Zimmerman's shooting of Martin was motivated by racism."
What he wrote can also be put this way: "Mr. Zimmerman's acquittal does not mean that he was not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin or of manslaughter. And another thing is clear: even though Zimmerman made prior calls to the police complaining about a skinny suspect, and in his call on the night of the killing racially profiled Trayvon Martin as a Black burglary suspect -- like one of the 'fucking punks' who got away -- clearly showing racial bias, jurors did not consider these factors that in rendering a verdict."
"The Zimmerman case is settled, but not over," Caldwell adds. "The Florida trial shows the evidence for a federal civil rights case to be weak and it is not clear on what grounds such a case could proceed."
In fact the opposite may be true. The Florida trial actually proves that Zimmerman's prior actions, including his numerous calls to police, where on one occasion he actually complained of a skinny Black boy -- this also fits Trayvon Martin's lean build -- and his complaining to the 911 dispatcher that the "fucking punks" always got away, shows a clear case of racial profiling.
Hard to separate this from the shooting death of Martin a few minutes after complaining about the "punks."