READER ADVISORY: The following editorial contains assertions that may seem contradictory to things you've seen in media coverage of this subject. For some, such assertions will be simple common sense. It is not the intention of the author to insult the readers; thus, these statements will be identified numerically in parentheses. (2)
The investigative process is still underway in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (3) Sanford police, county sheriffs, state and federal law enforcement are all compiling evidence of what happened the night that Trayvon Martin was shot to death. (4)
As your humble correspondent was returning to New York through Atlanta on Friday of this week, I did what I am often wont to do. I stopped for a bacon & jalapeno cheesesteak grilled sub sandwich at Charley's -- a popular Atlanta favorite. Over my left shoulder was the airport feed from CNN, and as the six or seven ladies operated the grill, called out the numbers, and delivered the delicacies, none of them could take their eyes off of the television feed.
At a particular point in the news feed CNN replayed a portion of the response of Robert Zimmerman Jr.'s appearance on Piers Morgan from Thursday evening. When Zimmerman Jr. made the claim that medical records will prove his brother's claims that he -- George Zimmerman, the shooter of Trayvon Martin -- had a scuffed back side of his head and a broken nose incurred from the scuffle preceding the shooting of Trayvon, the seven ladies behind the counter openly mocked, ridiculed, and heaped scorn at the television set. They muttered racial epithets under their breath.
They also spoke quietly, but loud enough for me to hear -- as a customer -- certain feelings about white people in general. (5)
In ways I have not seen in my forty-one years on this earth, this case -- or as it should be properly put -- the out-of-context reaction to this case has been perhaps the single most racially divisive event of my lifetime. (6) More than the O.J. Simpson verdict, more than the Rodney King case, more than any other incident I can call to memory -- the drummed-up reaction -- as was on display by the sandwich ladies -- made multiple customers in the Atlanta airport's Charley's cafe (in the B terminal) physically uneasy. (6)
The larger question for me this week is not so much the question of "why," because I can easily see how reinforcing racial divides helps a political party, a sitting president, people who peddle hate -- not very cleverly trying to disguise it as civil rights leadership, and even actors such as Sinbad and Spike Lee. No, the "why" of this matter seems easy to me. The larger question to me is, "how?"
Were I to query the ladies behind that counter, I am reasonably sure, based on answers they gave to questions that were not asked, that they genuinely felt that George Zimmerman was a white man who had targeted a black youth, conducted an act of violence on him because of his race, and was now being broadly protected by a system of whites.
But none of that happens to be true. (7)
George Zimmerman has nearly the same amount of Caucasian blood in him as President Obama does. (8) This alone -- in the President's case -- is an argument against his "whiteness," yet in the majority of early reports (and now, to those who talk behind sandwich counters) the truth doesn't matter.(9)
Zimmerman also has no history of racial animus towards black people. (10) One of his longtime friends, a former anchor for CNN -- who happens to be African American -- has been confirming this across as many media outlets as is possible. (11) Zimmerman and his wife -- it is now being discovered -- have been tutoring and mentoring at-risk African American youths for years, building into the lives of these at-risk children virtues and principals to live by.(12)
Zimmerman didn't target Martin because of race. (13) As a community watch volunteer, and as a licensed concealed-carry gun owner, Zimmerman had been concerned for some time about the amount of violent crime, break-ins, burglaries, and other felonies committed in his community. (14) In recent months, skinny tall guys in hoodies had been terrorizing the homeowners in the area. (15) Since the hoodie was pulled over his head, Zimmerman had no reasonable way to target merely an African American youth, but he did see a skinny tall kid -- that he did not recognize -- and felt if he saw something, he should say something.
According to 911 dispatch, Zimmerman was told that he did not need to follow Martin any further than he had. (Not, as some have reported, that he was actually instructed not to follow.) (16) According to Zimmerman, the police report, and as many as six witnesses: Zimmerman -- after getting off the phone -- retreated from his shadowing of Martin and returned to his SUV. (17) It is unclear as to why, but it is confirmed by multiple people who observed that Martin then turned and stalked Zimmerman. (18) Just when Zimmerman had gotten back to his vehicle, it is reported by witnesses that Martin violently assaulted Zimmerman. (19) And according to Robert Zimmerman, appearing on CNN on Thursday evening, Martin attempted to pull Zimmerman's gun. (20) Quickly the tussle turned serious. Both men in a fight for control of the firearm, one of them was shot seconds later.
The police -- once on the scene -- asked neighbors what they had seen and heard. (21) As many as six witnesses confirmed portions of Zimmerman's overall account. (22) Even so, Zimmerman was handcuffed, given medical treatment to clean up his wounds, taken to the police station, questioned, and released because his account was -- according to those who did the early investigating -- consistent with the evidence. (23)
Now a grand jury is looking into the matter, four different governmental levels of our nation's law enforcement are looking into it. (24) Police reports are being leaked to the press, and when every final bit of CSI material is catalogued a report will be made.
Robert Zimmerman wished to communicate to the Martin family the grief and sorrow that they feel for them. (25)
There are no such wishes being communicated to the rest of America for the damage that continues to be done in the violence that is the refusal to admit truth. (26) Those who do so would rather manipulate media and manufacture outrage all for political opportunity, vain publicity, or financial gain. (27)
Trayvon was not shot because he was black, and not one shred of actual evidence gathered thus far changes that fact. (28)