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“Mementos Of The Act”: George Zimmerman Takes A Victory Lap On A Dead Boy’s Grave

It was not enough just to kill Sam Hose. No, they had to make souvenirs out of him.

Hose was an African-American man lynched by a mob of some 2,000 white women and men in 1899 near the town of Newman, Ga. They did all the usual things. They stabbed him, castrated him, skinned his face, mutilated him, burned him alive.

Then they parceled out pieces of his body.

You could buy a small fragment of his bones for a quarter. A piece of his liver, “crisply cooked,” would set you back a dime. The great African-American scholar, W.E.B. DuBois, reported that Hose’s knuckles were for sale in a grocer’s window in Atlanta.

No, it wasn’t enough just to kill Sam Hose. People needed mementos of the act.

Apparently, it wasn’t enough just to kill Trayvon Martin, either.

Granted, it is not a piece of the child’s body that was recently put up for auction online by the man who killed him. George Zimmerman is offering “only” the gun that did the deed. But there is a historical resonance here as sickening as it is unmistakable.

Once again, a black life is destroyed. Once again, “justice” gives the killer a pass. Once again, there is a barter in keepsakes of the killing.

Sam Hose was not unique. People claimed hundreds, thousands, of trophies from the murders of African Americans. They kept bones. They kept sexual organs. They kept photographs of themselves, posed with mutilated corpses. It happened with the killings of Thomas Shipp, Abram Smith, Rubin Stacy, Laura Nelson, Claude Neal and too many more to count.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see it happen with Trayvon.

And someone will say, yes, but isn’t there a lively trade in all sorts of murder memorabilia? One website alone offers a signed postcard from Charles Manson, a letter from Jeffrey Dahmer, pictures of Ted Bundy. So how is this different?

Funny thing, though: All those men went to prison for what they did. Zimmerman did not. Initially, authorities couldn’t even bring themselves to arrest this self-deputized neighborhood watchman who stalked and shot an unarmed boy four years ago near Orlando.

Not that it mattered much when they did. Zimmerman went to court, but it was 17-year-old Trayvon who was on trial. A nation founded, rooted and deeply invested in the canard of native black criminality very much needed to believe Zimmerman’s improbable tale of self-defense, very much needed to find a way for the boy to be guilty of his own murder.

And so he was.

And the marketing of the gun that killed him by the man who pulled the trigger does not feel like simply another example of flagrantly bad taste. No, it feels like a victory lap on a dead boy’s grave. It feels like America once again caught in its own lies.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”? No we don’t.

“…with liberty and justice for all”? No there is not.

One is left breathless, not just with anger, not only with frustration, not simply with a sense of betrayal but also with a grinding fatigue at the need to, once again, ride out an assault on the basic humanness of African-American people.

Like Sam Hose, Trayvon Martin was “thing-ified,” made into something not his singular and individual self, made into an all-purpose metaphor, the brooding black beast glaring through the night-darkened window of American conscience. And like Sam Hose his murder is now commodified, made into a trophy for display in someone’s den.

African-American life is thereby — again — debased, and the nation, shamed. So when this thing is sold it really won’t matter who writes the check.

We all will pay the price.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald, The National Memo, Msy 18, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Black Men, George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin | , , , , | 2 Comments

“Washington, Carver, And… Zimmerman”: We Can’t Let Our Heroes Be Vilified By The Mainstream Liberal Media

As George Zimmerman finds himself in the news again for yet another charge of domestic violence, I am reminded of the thing that baffled me most in this bizarre series of events. It wasn’t just that Zimmerman was acquitted; it was his elevation to hero status amongst many of the citizens of this country. And he didn’t even have to cross the Delaware River to surprise the Hessian forces at Trenton, or even discover 300 uses for peanuts. To become a hero, all Zimmerman had to do was shoot an unarmed black teenager.

That’s all it took for one group of people in this country to back him, the diehard supporters of the Second Amendment. You know; the group that ignores the first line of the Second Amendment and thinks our forefathers were specifically referring to their personal right to own assault rifles. The group that was angry at 20 six-year-old kids for having the nerve to get killed, which might affect the number of rounds their magazines can carry.

After all, the Second Amendment says nothing of being responsible, so apparently you can’t support the amendment without supporting every bizarre case of someone using a firearm to kill someone else, especially if it’s an unarmed black teen, because we all know that person will eventually become an unarmed black man.

Zimmerman has been given the royal treatment ever since, beginning with the police not pressing charges or even opting to do an investigation. It was this no-harm-no-foul attitude that prompted national outrage. Hence a theatrical trial was put on to appease the masses.

Immediately people in this country began sending money to their hero, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000. After all, we can’t let our heroes be vilified by the mainstream liberal media.

And everyone in this country is entitled to representation, usually in the form of a court-appointed attorney. But not for Zimmerman. He received representation from a million-dollar lawyer, Mark O’Mara, who has stated that he still hasn’t received one penny for his services. But that doesn’t matter; he’s representing a hero who shot an unarmed black teen. Heck, why is that even against the law?

On to the theater as the trial commenced. I wondered how the prosecutors could win this case without it making them look incompetent or of showing favoritism for not pressing charges to begin with. Maybe that explains their effort, or lack thereof, during the play… uh, I mean trial.

For example, Zimmerman’s wife did not even testify to the fact that she had left George the day before and he was very upset about that. But really, what does a person’s state-of-mind have to do with their actions? Heck, he was even referred to as a Neighborhood Watch captain by everyone, including the media, even though he was not actually part of any chapter, and Neighborhood Watch volunteers are not allowed to carry weapons. Hence the word “watch.”

And when the defense presented an “expert” witness to testify that a 29-year-old, five-feet-nine, 220 pound man toting a loaded Kel Tec 9 millimeter pistol was no physical match for a 17-year-old, six-feet-one, 140 pound boy carrying a pack of Skittles, his testimony was not even questioned. And we all know of disclosure, so the prosecution had to know what this person would testify to.

I can find no studies that show that a four-inch height difference gives a person any advantage at all in a physical confrontation. In professional boxing, four inches means nothing. It is strictly the weight that matches opponents. So why was this “expert” testimony not questioned?

After the trial, Zimmerman’s status as a hero continued with his tour of the facility that manufactured the gun that he used. What a proud moment that must have been for the company to not only have someone purchase their product, but use it to kill an unarmed black teen.

Then, in perhaps the most bizarre of all events associated with this craziness, Zimmerman listed a painting on eBay, a painting that looked like a PhotoShop rendering of a clipart image with patriotic words added, and it sold for over $100.000. That means someone out there dished out that kind of dough just to own something from their hero, because the actual value of the painting from an artistic perspective would probably be under a buck.

I guess I’m from the proverbial old school. I remember when heroes were scrutinized just a little more. I remember when that term was reserved for people who did extraordinary things like firemen who rush into burning buildings to save lives, or soldiers who give their all to save a fallen friend or to protect our country, or any number of events where ordinary people put their own safety at risk to help others

But here we have George Zimmerman, and when all the dust is settled, we have a man who has done nothing out of the ordinary other than face several charges of violence and walked away as if made of Teflon. The only other thing George Zimmerman ever did in his life that was of note that makes him different than almost every other citizen of this country, was to shoot an unarmed black teenager.

And that, to millions, makes him a hero.

 

By: Neal Wooten, The Blog, The Huffington Post, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2015 Posted by | Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, George Zimmerman | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It Makes You Wonder”: George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson And The Kickstarted Defense; You Call This Justice?

I learned a lot of shocking things reporting “Zimmerman Family Values” for the new issue of GQ. But one really creeped up on me. From nearly the second the Florida neighborhood watchman shot to death 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, George and his family absolutely believed that a superstar attorney was his only chance to not wind up in prison forever. So it was inevitable that when Zimmerman was arrested and charged with murder, he had only one thing on his mind: how to pay for a private criminal defense lawyer. Knowing that his phone calls were being recorded while he was in jail pending bond (for a grand total of seven weeks) Zimmerman and his family spoke in code. They were all very grateful for the “support from SH”.

You didn’t need a crypto-analyst to figure out that “SH” was Sean Hannity. In July 2012, the Miami Herald reported that the anchor was believed to be financially backing Zimmerman’s defense.

It was kind of true. But Hannity, himself, did not shell out. He got a bunch of other people to pony up. On his nightly TV show, the Fox News man would furrow his brow and rant about what would become of America if we lost the right to shoot and kill people who scare us. Then Hannity would, helpfully, mention TheRealGeorge Zimmerman.com, a website that the real George Zimmerman had set up after he shot Trayvon Martin to death. The site, helpfully, accepted PayPal.

Nearly half a million dollars double-clicked right in.

It makes you wonder: does seeming less guilty on TV make a killer seem less guilty in court? Does an expensive attorney help get him off, too?

The answer appears to be yes and yes.

A 2012 study showed that if a case before the US supreme court is covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, the court’s decision is twice as likely to mimic public opinion than if it is not reported on by those newspapers.

In 2011, a review by the US justice department showed that defendants represented by court-appointed lawyers are more likely to be convicted and/or receive longer prison sentences than those represented by private attorneys.

The reasons for this slaying of the US constitution’s sixth and 14th amendments (right to legal counsel and right to due process) is rather obvious. In the last 50 years (since the supreme court unanimously reaffirmed defendant rights), the US incarceration rate has exploded more than 700%, while public defender budgets have plummeted about 600%. Today, the average amount of time a public defender spends with a client is 59 minutes in Atlanta, 32 minutes in Detroit and seven minutes in New Orleans. No surprise it’s often a “meet ’em and plead ’em” process. More than 90% of criminal defense cases are now plea-bargained. Those that go to trial – well, no promises. In the last 25 years, at least 2,000 people have been wrongly convicted and collectively served more than 10,000 years in prison.

So what’s an accused bad guy supposed to do? Follow George Zimmerman’s lead!

Of course, not every accused felon can get Sean Hannity as his personal cheerleader/rainmaker. But anyone accused of anything can crowd-source and, uh, raise public awareness. Right now there are more than 4,000 legal defense projects seeking your money on GoFundMe.com. MaryJane, in Lansing, Michigan, is apparently fighting criminal cannabis growing charges. She says she needs weed because she has Lupus. She posts a photo of herself out-and-proud wearing a marijuana leaf necklace. She has raised $1,450. Gordon Smith, of Delmar, Delaware says that he has been falsely accused of domestic violence 24 times. He offers a video – “False Allegation Awareness: The Gordon Smith Story” – and he has raised $290. Darren Wilson, of St Charles, Missouri, has done a lot better. He has raised $433,000 … because maybe some day he’ll be charged with something.

Wilson, of course, is the police officer who shot to death 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr, whose own family’s GoFundMe site has raised $339,000. As officer Wilson’s (currently inactive) fundraising sites promised: “All proceeds will be sent directly to Darren Wilson and his family for any financial needs they may have including legal fees.”

If he ever has legal fees. Right now, all Darren Wilson has is a lot of money because he killed someone.

What did George Zimmerman spend his crowd-sourced payday on? A bail bond was $95,000, living expenses took $62,000, security ate up $56,000, and GPS monitoring (he had to wear an ankle bracelet pending trial) along with pizza for interns gobbled up $3,200. Zimmerman’s attorneys did get $76,000.

Zimmerman still owes his lawyers another $2m. And he got acquitted in a state that convicts accused people nearly 90% of the time.

Do he and Wilson really deserve a million-dollar defense team any more than MaryJane and Gordon need whatever legal representation a grand total of $1,740 can buy?

Or is crowd-sourced funding just the real public defender in a time of recession, social media and criminal justice without much justice?

If you’re accused of a crime, it clearly pays to do get a lot of attention committing it.

 

By: Amanda Robb, The Guardian, October 1, 2014

October 7, 2014 Posted by | Criminal Justice System, Darren Wilson, George Zimmerman | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“You And Your Brother Are Evil’: GQ’s Insane Profile Of George Zimmerman’s Family

October’s issue of GQ features a profile of the family of George Zimmerman, the man who owes his life to Florida’s “stand your ground” law and extremely understanding jurors, after fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. Writer Amanda Robb paints a picture of a family tormented by paranoia, as the Zimmermans struggle to live in a country where the vast majority of the population despises their brother.

Here are a few of the most fascinating, heartbreaking, complicated moments.

Their paranoid security protocols

“They watched the movie Argo to learn how to live like CIA. Code names for everyone. No mail delivered to the house. No visitors. No talking to the few neighbors they had. No long phone conversations — keep it short and vague to outwit surveillance. Never discuss your whereabouts via phone or text. Keep a weapon close by at all times. [George’s brother] Robert slept with his gun. Still does.

“And in case someone–or multiple someones–decided to mount an attack on the house, the Zimmermans pre-packed their own ‘go-bags’ filled with everything they would need to flee in a rush, as well as what they called ‘footballs’ — like the one President Obama has with the nuclear codes–that contained laptops, cell phones, and other essential electronics.

“They also memorized a color-coded threat-ID system. Code blue: Law enforcement at the door. Code brown: Draw your weapons. Code black: Come out guns blazing.”

Concealed weapons certification class

Robb accompanied Gladys to a concealed weapons certification class to learn more about the region’s gun culture. “The class’s instructor, a police officer in Belle Isle, repeatedly recommends ‘accessorizing your gun,’ which he illustrates by lisping and wagging his wrist like a stereotypical ‘queen.’ The instructor keeps up the act until he finds out I live in New York City. Then he veers into Colonel Klink from the 1960s TV series Hogan’s Heroes. ‘Welcome to Germany,’ he says. ‘Everyone on the train!’

We don’t actually learn to fire our weapons in this concealed-weapons class, so eventually I tell the instructor, “I have no idea how to load, aim, or shoot a gun.” He recommends I get a .38. “It’s a good baby gun,” he says. “Yes!” [George’s mother] Gladys exclaims. “Personally, I love my .45!” Then she does this kind of Angie Dickinson draw-and-aim move from the TV show Police Woman.

A brush with luxury

The Zimmermans agreed to make an appearance on CNN after the network agreed to pay for two hotel rooms for three nights and “everything” else they might need. After racking up debts from lawsuits, mortgages and the rent from their secret home, this looked pretty good.

“They ran up a big room-service bill, cleaned out the minibars, got their clothes laundered, made several trips to the spa, treated a party of ten to dinner at the hotel restaurant, and bought swag–from bracelets to bath fizzies–at the gift shop.

“Toward the end of their stay, according to Robert, a manager presented him with a bill for $3,600. He says he called CNN, outraged, only to have the producer accuse them of splurging shamelessly on CNN’s dime. “You and your brother are evil!” he remembers her screaming. The hotel manager threatened to call the police. Alone in his room, Robert started shaking. He wrapped all the blankets around him, ordered shrimp, chain-smoked cigarettes, got roaring drunk. Nothing helped. He called his mother in a panic. “I can’t get warm,” he sobbed. “I just can’t get warm.”

 

By: Joanna Rothkopt, Assistant Editor, Salon, September 29, 2014

October 1, 2014 Posted by | George Zimmerman, Gun Violence, Trayvon Martin | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The More We See”: Trayvon Martin Or George Zimmerman, Who’s The Real Thug?

With George Zimmerman out on bail last week after his latest run-in with police, it seems an opportune time to discuss the second killing of Trayvon Martin.

The first, of course, has been discussed ad infinitum since Zimmerman shot the unarmed 17-year-old to death last year. But then Trayvon was killed again. The conservative noise machine engaged in a ritual execution of his character and worth, setting out with breathtaking indifference to facts and callous disregard for simple decency to murder the memory of a dead child.

Geraldo Rivera blamed him for his own death because he wore a hooded sweatshirt — in the rain, yet. Glenn Beck’s website suggested he might have been an arsonist, kidnapper or killer. Rush Limbaugh made jokes about “Trayvon Martin Luther King.”

Some conservative readers even chastised me for referring to him as a “child” or a “boy” though at 17, he was legally both. Makes him seem too sympathetic, they said. One man assured me, absent any evidence or, apparently, any need of it, that contrary to reports, Trayvon was not walking to where he was staying that day but was in fact “casing” the neighborhood.

One woman forwarded a chain email depicting a tough-looking, light-skinned African-American man with tattoos on his face. It was headlined: “The Real Trayvon Martin,” which it wasn’t. It was actually a then-32-year-old rapper who calls himself The Game. But the message was clear: Trayvon was a scary black man who deserved what he got.

I sent that woman an image of Trayvon from the Zimmerman trial. It shows him lying open-eyed and dead on the grass. “This is the real Trayvon,” I wrote.

It was a waste of time. “They’re both pictures of Trayvon,” she insisted. So deeply, bizarrely invested was she in the idea of Trayvon as thug that she could not distinguish between a fair-skinned man with tattoos, and a brown boy with no visible markings. Literally, they all look alike to her.

And once again, a conservative movement which argues with airy assurance that American racism died long ago, disproves its thesis with its actions.

Here, someone wants it pointed out that Trayvon Martin was not an angel. Well, he wasn’t. He took pictures flipping the bird. He used marijuana. He was suspended from school at the time of his shooting. Obviously, he needed guidance. The same is true of many boys. Indeed, it is rumored that there are even white children who use marijuana.

But here’s the thing: Why did some of us need Trayvon to be an angel in the first place? Why did they feel such a pressing urgency to magnify — and manufacture — his failings? Why was it so important to them to make him unworthy of sympathy?

It is a question that assumes new potency the more we see of George Zimmerman. On the day he shot Trayvon, this hero of the conservative noise machine, this righteous white Hispanic man who was, they say, just standing his ground, already had a record that included an accusation he attacked an undercover police officer. That same year — 2005 — a woman sought a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence.

In September, Zimmerman had a fresh run-in with police over a domestic violence accusation by his estranged wife. In this latest episode, a girlfriend said he pulled a gun on her. In court, she said that once, he even tried to choke her.

Granted, none of these charges has been adjudicated, but there is certainly a pattern here. It ought to give decent people pause and the conservative noise machine shame — assuming it is capable of that emotion. That pattern paints in neon the machine’s willful blindness, the reflexive alacrity with which it assigns the thug label to the black kid — and innocence to the white man.

Well, look again. George Zimmerman seems awfully darn thuggish to me.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Featured Post, The National Memo, November 25, 2013

November 26, 2013 Posted by | George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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