By Keith Johnson
The media circus surrounding the February 26 killing of a black teenager in Sanford, Florida has sparked racial tensions and a rush to judgment against neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who has been accused of shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community that had recently fallen victim to a rash of burglaries and violent crimes.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, recently told this reporter, “It’s my contention, and my belief, that when all the evidence has come out, it will show that he [Zimmerman] was acting in self-defense.”
Police did not charge Zimmerman, due in part to Fla.’s “stand your ground” law. “In the statute, it says you are allowed to meet force with force,” said Sonner, “including deadly force, if he or she believes it’s necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.”
Zimmerman has not spoken publicly, and the pending investigation by a special prosecutor has not revealed exactly what she thinks occurred that night. Sonner is also cautious not to reveal too many details of the case, but insists it was Martin who attacked Zimmerman. The ensuing struggle resulted in Martin being shot in the chest, and according to Sonner, Zimmerman “suffered an injury to his nose and a scrape on the back of his head.”
Although this is consistent with a report filed by the Sanford Police Department (SPD), supporters of Martin are dismissing the claims as a fabrication based on grainy video footage obtained by ABC News. In that video, a handcuffed Zimmerman arrives at SPD and is escorted from a police car into the station. At first glance, Zimmerman appears to be unscathed.
However, former Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Brad Garrett explains how the surveillance tape has been enhanced by Forensic Protection Inc., a company that specializes in sharpening video footage for the police. He points out how it can clearly be seen in the footage that Zimmerman has a pair of gashes on the back of his head. The ABC News anchor also points out the same thing and anyone seeing the footage can see the gashes.
Agent Garrett also explains how the police report from Zimmerman’s arrest by the arresting officer clearly describes blood coming from the nose and back of Zimmerman’s head.
The report filed by officer Timothy Smith on February 27, 2012 states:
While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered with grass as if he had been lying on his back on the ground. Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head.
Curiously, this police report which had been available online since the incident has been removed.
Sonner cautioned that it is premature to reach any conclusion based upon what is coming out of the mainstream media.
“Unfortunately, so many things in this case have been revealed that are just not true,” said Sonner.
When asked to elaborate, Sonner replied, “Portraying that Mr. Zimmerman is a racist, that he was profiling Trayvon Martin, and that [Zimmerman] chased him down.”
The charge that Zimmerman was profiling Martin was manufactured by NBC News, which doctored the original 9-1-1 call that Zimmerman made to SPD by excluding a portion of the conversation with the police dispatcher, who clearly asks Zimmerman to describe the race of the suspect. As a result of this controversy, NBC issued a public apology and fired the producer responsible, although this person has yet to be named.
According to Eric Wemple of The Washington Post, “A dismissal is certainly commensurate with the offense in the case. As this blog has repeated several times, the edition of the ‘Today’ show at the center of this story quoted Zimmerman as saying the following:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
Yet the transcript of that portion of the call reads as follows:
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 effect here is to portray Zimmerman as a hardened racial profiler, when in fact he was asked to provide the racial information to the dispatcher.”
Sonner went on to say, “Any representation of what happened that fateful evening is inaccurate because it hasn’t been disclosed by the authorities. They will disclose all the evidence that will be used to prosecute George Zimmerman if and when that happens.”
Asked if he expects legal action to be taken against his client, Sonner responded, “I have every reason to believe they will send it to the grand jury.”
Apparently, that’s not good enough for race-baiters like Reverand Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and other so-called leaders of the black community, who have already convicted Zimmerman in the court of public opinion.
During a recent rally in Florida, Jackson screamed that Martin had been “murdered and martyred.” On Capitol Hill, Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who is black, concluded that Martin had been “executed for walking while black in a gated community.” And Sharpton has threatened to lead a mass rebellion unless Zimmerman is arrested.
Similar threats were issued in 2006, when both Sharpton and Jackson rushed to judgment against three white students of Duke University’s lacrosse team who were accused of raping a black stripper. The defendants were later vindicated after it was revealed that the lead prosecutor withheld vital DNA evidence from the defense.
The race-biased media reporting has given birth to a virtual lynch mob that is calling for Zimmerman’s head. Black film director Spike Lee recently used the social networking site Twitter to reveal what he believed at the time to be Zimmerman’s home address. It turned out to be the home of an elderly couple. Twitter has also allowed an account to be created called “Kill Zimmerman,” which advocates the murder of the alleged shooter. The New Black Panther Party has put a $10,000.00 bounty on Zimmerman’s head.
Sonner told this newspaper: “If at any point it comes forward that he needs to turn himself in, he will turn himself in. He’s not going to run, he’s not going to hide from the police. He’s going to hide from the vigilantes who are trying to kill him, but we’re cooperating with the government and law enforcement in every way that they’ve asked up to this point.”
The Trayvon Martin shooting is the latest example of how the media is quick to exploit supposed white-on-black crime while almost ignoring crimes committed by blacks against whites. In 2007, for example, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom—a young white couple who had gone out on a date to a local restaurant—were both raped, tortured and murdered by five blacks after their vehicle had been carjacked in Knoxville, Tennessee. That case received no national attention, no public outcry, and certainly no sympathy expressed from the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Keith Johnson is a writer based in Tennessee.