Like everyone else I’ve been following the second degree murder trial of George Zimmerman. I’ve watched the talking-head attorneys try to defend what’s going on in Florida. How it’s up to the jury to decide. What’s missing is the fact that this trial should never have taken place in the first place. The evidence for a self-defense claim was there from the beginning. What’s missing in this trial is the complicity of the media, celebrities, politicians, and social media.
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. It shouldn’t have happened. But from the time the story first broke the media was complicit in turning a tragic incident into something it wasn’t — a murder of an innocent black youth by a white man looking to shoot someone. It all started with the way the story was presented in the press along with the images that were shown.
From the beginning the media portrayed the event as having involved a young black youth being profiled, confronted, and then shot by a much larger white male – a neighborhood watchman. And from the beginning just about everything that was reported was wrong. Trayvon Martin wasn’t the innocent looking thirteen-year-old wearing a football jersey as was portrayed. George Zimmerman wasn’t a much taller, much bigger aggressor. He wasn’t even working as a neighborhood watchman that evening.
Yet once the images were released, and once the incorrect details of what happened were spread all over cable news and the internet, there was no turning back. The damaging story the media put out is what stuck. When the truth came out later — Trayvon wasn’t thirteen he was seventeen; he wasn’t a skinny little kid in a football jersey, he was a seventeen-year-old young adult certainly capable of getting into a fight with a shorter George Zimmerman; Zimmerman had every right to be suspicious considering the rash of break-ins that had occurred in the prior months.
But the misinformation kept on coming. George Zimmerman had no visible injuries. Where was the proof? The media happily showed George Zimmerman walking into the police station with no injuries. There you have it ladies and gentleman of the public – guilty as charged. But wait, those images and video occurred hours after the incident, after George Zimmerman was treated by medical personnel. As it turns out, there are other images that support everything that George Zimmerman stated from the beginning — it was Trayvon Martin who was the aggressor.
The media, though, had a sensational story that they continued reporting despite evidence to the contrary. As more details emerged, television commentators like Nancy Grace spread more unsubstantiated claims. With images of the thirteen-year old Trayvon Martin in the background, the media told the story of how Trayvon was on the phone with his girlfriend, the girlfriend told him to run, Trayvon started to run away, and then (according to the commentators) you can hear Trayvon screaming for help moments before Zimmerman caught up to him and shot him. The public was outraged.
Commentators like Pierce Morgan began every segment with the same image of the thirteen-year old Trayvon Martin in the background. He continued to do this months after the truth had come out.
Next came the celebrities who eagerly perpetuated the misinformation. Many of them posed in pictures wearing hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin. They went on the same cable news shows and talked about how it wasn’t right that an innocent black boy carrying a bag of skittles was pursued and shot for no apparent reason.
This was followed by a public outcry for justice. Social media sites were ablaze with racial bickering from blacks and whites. A congresswoman actually got on the news and reported that George Zimmerman profiled, pursued, ran after and tackled Trayvon Martin and then shot him. This same congresswoman then assigned a special prosecutor to look at bringing charges against George Zimmerman since the original people looking at what happened deemed that there wasn’t any evidence to bring charges.
In comes special prosecutor Angela Corey. She meets with the parents. She goes on TV and talks about how she wants justice for Trayvon. There are protestors out in the streets, perpetuating the misinformation given to them by the media and the Internet, demanding justice. So Angela Corey, instead of saying sorry folks there really isn’t anything here that doesn’t support George Zimmerman’s account of that night, decides that she is going to file charges. And not just any charges, she is going to charge George Zimmerman with second degree murder.
Now we are dealing with the repercussions of that decision. The whole world is going to see that there never was any evidence to support a second degree murder trial. It happened just the way George Zimmerman said it happened. He saw Trayvon in a hoodie walking through his complex, the same complex where a rash of break-ins by black youths had occurred; he decided to call the police to report his suspicions; he lost track of Trayvon and decided to go see if he could find out where he was so he could tell the police; it was dark, there was a light rain; next thing he sees is Trayvon Martin standing in front of him.
“What’s your problem?” Trayvon asks.
“I got no problem, man,” Zimmerman replies.
“Well, you got one now.”
Trayvon is talking to his girlfriend on the phone. She tells him to run away. Really, run away? No way is he running away. He’s going to confront this guy and teach him a lesson. He confronted Zimmerman. He struck Zimmerman. He got on top of him and started flailing blows at Zimmerman. He pounded Zimmerman’s head into the concrete sidewalk. George screamed for someone to help him. In the scuffle George’s gun was exposed. Trayvon reached for the gun but George got to it first and shot Trayvon. That’s what happened.
Yet the television commentators who inflamed the public by painting a false picture of what happened continue to try and defend their actions. Nancy Grace, faced with overwhelming evidence supporting George Zimmerman’s story, is now reduced to reporting on George Zimmerman’s weight gain and implying that he has gained weight in an attempt to make him look less menacing. Really, Nancy? That’s the best you can come up with. Pierce Morgan continues to state on the air that it isn’t right that George Zimmerman could walk free. Really, Pierce? If it were you that was having your head pounded into the pavement, with someone on top of you throwing punches, then reaching for your concealed weapon to use against you, you don’t think it was proper to defend yourself? At what point would it have been proper? After Trayvon got ahold of the gun and then fired?
Trayvon would not have confronted Zimmerman if he didn’t feel that he was threatened. George would not have followed Trayvon had he not been suscpicious due to the history of break-ins. It was an incident that ended tragically. But it was not second degree murder. It was self-defense, and that is what the jury will ultimately decide. And Angela Corey will go on using her power and authority to do more harm in the name of justice.