Over a period of years, George Zimmerman phoned authorities to report suspicious persons in his gated community in Sanford (Fla.)—call reports are posted online. Zimmerman reported white males and hispanic males, black males and a female or two. He also reported young children playing in the street and deliberately running in front of cars. He reported open garage doors and non-residents partying at the pool house.
Nothing in Zimmerman’s reports suggests he was racist. The people he reported as suspicious were dressed in a variety of ways—shorts, t-shirts, pajama pants and a hoodie or two. He made calls about drivers speeding or driving carelessly. He called about potholes.
How did a sequence of events spanning minutes end up with Travyon Martin being shot by George Zimmerman?
We know what started it—Zimmerman perceived the teen as behaving suspiciously, like he was “on drugs.” We know that as Martin walked through the neighborhood, he was talking to his girlfriend on the phone and media accounts suggest Martin was using an earpiece.
Wouldn’t that look strange on a dark street at night, especially if you were having an animated conversation and observers didn’t see an earpiece? You’d be walking down the street, moving your head, maybe even your hands, and talking. An observer might have no idea you were on the phone. Is that why Zimmerman thought Martin was "acting crazy?"
We don’t know all the facts yet. What we do know is that the concept of the hoodie as a red flag is not restricted to one race. Indeed, Homeland Security seemed to suggest that white people wearing hoodies are the problem, something I pointed out in a column on Monday. The DHS ‘See something, Say something’ public service announcement featured three or four suspicious characters—all white, all wearing hoodies.
Based on statements from witnesses and associates of Zimmerman, and the police report of the evening’s events, one thing is certain. Zimmerman saw a person he didn’t recognize, deemed him suspicious and called the police.
There is no indication Zimmerman based his actions on racism.
On the other hand, much of the public response by high profile groups like the New Black Panther Party has been markedly racist. Many media outlets have been eager to promote that racist agenda. There’s also a definite political objective—the Southern regional minister for the NBPP gives that away in his interview with a local news outlet. He said, “Don’t vote for Angela Corey!”
That was after the NBPP member directed vitriolic remarks at Corey. There’s a backstory there—many Democrats want Corey out of office and that is nothing new. That position is purely political. Conversely, people of all colors in Northeast Florida are glad crime levels are down in Jacksonville.
I listened as an NBPP member made racist slurs. Trayvon, said the member, was “assassinated by a wicked white beast.”
The NBPP member said he didn’t care that Zimmerman is hispanic or that his father’s a Jew—“He’s a no-good Jew,” he said.
The local network also talked to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left of center group.
Not a word was said about the SPLC designating the NBPP as a hate group, not even by the SPLC spokesman.
One thing the reporters didn’t notice—the NBPP ‘Wanted’ flier on Zimmerman had been cleaned up for her interview. The first 'Wanted' flier unveiled at a rally was more vitriolic, labeled ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’
NBPP said they’re mobilizing “10,000 black men” to go after Zimmerman. Just, for a single moment, imagine if a hispanic or white group made that statement publicly. Federal forces would already be here.
NBPP also appears to think people of other races don’t ever kill white people. That is, of course, a fantasy. Death doesn’t discriminate and it never has. We probably wouldn’t think of crime in skin colors in this day and age if the federal government and politicians didn’t deliberately obsess over it as a means of marginalizing groups in order to garner support from others.
Today’s racism rhetoric is opportunistic—it provides a speaking and publishing platform for some. For others, the purpose is gathering votes. This is a volatile election year, after all. Politicians are eager to use racism rhetoric as a tool to cover up failure in office.
As I pointed out in a column for Examiner, a killing similar to that of Trayvon Martin happened in New York in 2009. President Barack Obama was in office by then. A black man went into the street in front of his house and confronted teens who were going through cars. The black man ended up shooting one white teen, Christopher Cervini, but the shooter was acquitted by a jury on charges of manslaughter based on claims of self-defense, the same claim Zimmerman is making.
The black man shot the teen twice. The second shot hit the teen in the back.
Then there was the more recent case in early March where a white 13 year old was set on fire, allegedly by two black teens—all the boys attended the same Kansas City (Mo.) school. The suspects are known, but no one has been charged yet.
Big media doesn’t talk about those cases and the current U.S. Dept. of Justice doesn’t usually get involved either.
No one has ever asked Obama about the Kansas City teen or the New York teen; nor has the president taken an opportunity to offer their families a message.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/March 27, 2012)
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