The killing of Trayvon Martin has brought all sorts of people with all sorts of political and ideological persuasions out of the woodwork. There are rumors and pictures flying–some accurate and some not so accurate. According to the Los Angeles Times, the New Black Panther Party has offered $10,000 for the citizen’s arrest of George Zimmerman. There have also been death threats against Mr. Zimmerman and charges that he was not arrested due to political connections. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have gotten involved. Have any of the people screaming bothered to check the facts? This is the kind of rhetoric that results in lynchings–it needs to stop.
A local Florida reporter has taken the time to clear up some of the misstatements and misinformation that is out there. Rene Stutzman at the Orlando Sentinal has done some investigating and dispels some of the rumors that have been circulating.
1. There is a rumor that the county Medical Examiner refused to release Trayvon Martin’s body to his family for three days. That is simply not true–the coroner released the body to the funeral home after 39 hours–the funeral home did not pick up the body for another 24 hours.
2. Rumor has it that the Sanford police did not collect George Zimmerman’s clothing as evidence. That is also not true–clothing from both men was collected to be examined as evidence.
3. One story says that George Zimmerman was not arrested because he has a relative on the police force. First of all, he has no relative on the force. Second of all, Florida Statute 776.032 expressly prohibits police from arresting someone who had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. Legally, the police could not have arrested him.
It is a tragedy that Trayvon Martin is dead, but we need to be careful not to make him an angel in death when there are some real questions as to what kind of a person he was in life.
ABC News reported yesterday:
Family attorney Benjamin Crump told ABC News that Martin had been slapped with a 10 day school suspension after a bag with suspected marijuana was found in his backpack.
Last year Martin was suspended for spraying graffiti on school grounds. The Miami Herald reported that the school guard who stopped him searched his backpack and found 12 items of women’s jewelry and a flathead screw driver that the guard believed to be a “burglary implement.” But Martin was never charged or specifically disciplined for the incident.
It is a shame that Trayvon Martin is dead, but that death has nothing to do with racism–it seems to have more to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time and some very bad decisions made very quickly by both parties involved. I am not sure George Zimmerman should be charged with anything. Evidence suggests that he was pretty badly roughed up when police interviewed him. Hopefully, the hysteria will die down soon enough for the truth to come out.