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As I write these words, Benjamin Jealous, the President of the NAACP, is arguing that it is nearly impossible for an African-American to get justice in this country. He is demanding that the Department of Justice charge George Zimmerman in federal court with conspiring to deprive Trayvon Martin of his civil rights, and he claims to have collected one million signatures on a petition making the same demand. Attorney General Eric Holder is exploring this very possibility; Holder’s friends among The New Black Panthers have put a bounty on George Zimmerman’s head; and his underlings at the Department of Justice have set up an email address so that citizens can send them the dirt on George Zimmerman. A witch hunt is underway.
Of course, there is a case to be made that there has been a conspiracy to deprive an American citizen of his civil rights, and the citizen in question would, indeed, qualify under federal law as an African-American. But the citizen whose rights were threatened was not Trayvon Martin. It was George Zimmerman himself, and the men who should be charged are those who have orchestrated the witch hunt underway now for more than a year. Eric Holder and Barack Obama are first on this list. And the top brass at NBC, The New York Times, CNN, CBS, and ABC as well as the special prosecutor, the presiding judge, and the leadership of the NAACP should be arraigned alongside them.
Think a bit about what has happened. On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman, a longtime captain in the Neighborhood Watch in Sanford, Florida, was cruising the high-crime neighborhood in which he lived. He had been doing this for years, and he had assisted in a number of arrests. If you resided in such a place, you would be grateful to public-spirited citizens such as Zimmerman, who year in and year out worked to make it less unsafe to live there. He is one among many such unsung American heroes, and the treatment meted out to him — even by conservatives, one of whom described him back in 2012 as a vigilante and another of whom has suggested in the last few days that he should have been charged with negligent homicide — is a disgrace.
In the course of this particular tour by car, Zimmerman noticed someone wearing a hoodie — an outfit favored by burglars and thieves because it makes identification difficult — who was behaving in a suspicious manner, wandering about and looking in the windows of darkened houses as if he was casing them for a break-in. Zimmerman called 911, alerted the police to the situation, and, when the person in the hoodie suddenly left the street and cut between two houses, he followed him on foot a certain distance. All of this is a matter of public record.
Contrary to claims repeatedly broadcast by the media, Zimmerman was not told not to follow the suspect. Nor was he instructed by the police dispatcher to return to his car. He was told that following the suspect was unnecessary. That is all. The worst that can be said of him in this regard is that he put himself in danger. What he did was not in any respect immoral or improper; it was courageous. He had every right to attempt to keep the suspect in view. There had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood.
According to his own testimony, when told by the police dispatcher that what he was doing was unnecessary, Zimmerman returned in the direction of his car, was attacked, knocked down, had his head slammed repeatedly into the concrete sidewalk, and was told by his assailant that he was going to die. When the man on top of him noticed his gun and reached for it, Zimmerman claimed, he grabbed it first and shot his assailant in self-defense.
As the police soon discovered, the physical evidence gibed perfectly with Zimmerman’s claims. His nose is broken. His face was bloody. There was plenty of blood on the back of his head. Trayvon Martin, the person in the hoodie, had been shot at very close quarters but was otherwise unharmed. Moreover, there was a witness who testified that Martin had Zimmerman under him and was pummeling him and that Zimmerman was yelling for help and asking that 911 be called. The local police and the local district attorney weighed the evidence and rightly concluded that the shooting was an act of self-defense.
Then, on the 8th of March, as this timeline conveniently provided by Breitbart.com makes clear, the drumbeat began. Trayvon Martin’s parents — who were, with the help of a lawyer named Benjamin Crump, hoping to cash in by suing the gated community where George Zimmerman lived — appeared on CBS This Morning, demanding that Zimmerman be tried; and that very day the Associated Press racialized the story, falsely asserting that Zimmerman was white (a claim, incidentally, that it repeated two days ago).
On March 13, 2012, MSNBC’s Al Sharpton picked up the theme, and that same day Matt Guttman, an ABC reporter in Miami, began peddling the completely unsubstantiated claim that Zimmerman shot Martin because he was black. When it was discovered that Zimmerman’s mother is Peruvian, he was turned by The New York Times and Reuters into “a white Hispanic.” No one in the mainstream media went to the trouble of discovering that most of the man’s forebears on his mother’s side were native Americans and that he had a grandparent of African extraction.
Eight days thereafter, CNN falsely reported that, in his conversation with the police dispatcher, Zimmerman had referred to Martin as “a f___ing coon.” It took them weeks to retract the claim (and this past weekend Nancy Grace resurrected this false charge).
It was at this point that Eric Holder’s Department of Justice got into the act, organizing demonstrations in Florida and flying Al Sharpton in to stir up the crowd with the following words:
Trayvon could have been any one of our sons. Trayvon could have been any one of us. . . We are tired of going to jail for nothing and others going home for something. Zimmerman should have been arrested that night … you cannot defend yourself against a pack of Skittles and iced tea. Don’t talk to us like we’re stupid! Don’t talk to us like we’re ignorant! We love our children like you love yours. Lock him up! . . .
We cannot allow a legal precedent to be established in this city that tells us it is legal for a man to kill us, tell any story he wants, and walks out with the murder weapon.
A day later, on the 23rd of March, the President of the United States, entered the fray, sounding the same theme as Sharpton: “Trayvon could have been any one of our sons. If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” The subtext was unmistakable.
Four days later, NBC broadcast on The Today Show an edited tape. Here is the actual exchange between Zimmerman and the police dispatcher:
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.
Here is the exchange as edited and presented by NBC:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
A day later ABC News falsely reported: “A police surveillance video taken the night that Trayvon Martin was shot dead shows no blood or bruises on George Zimmerman.”
A day thereafter, on NBC Chris Matthews chimed in:
George Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon Martin after Trayvon broke his nose and repeatedly slammed the back of his head into a concrete sidewalk, but newly released video tape of Zimmerman arriving at the police station–we’re looking at it there–appears to show no evidence of a broken nose or obvious wounds to the back of Zimmerman’s head.
Had ABC or NBC bothered to enhance the grainy photograph, as they easily could have, the damage done George Zimmerman would have become visible.
Finally, of course, on 11 April 2012 — after the Republican Governor of Florida, collapsing like a house of cards before the media onslaught, appointed a special prosecutor — Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Eric Holder had in the meantime dispatched 18 FBI agents to dig up dirt on the man. The rest, I suspect, you know.
It is the duty of a defense attorney to defend his client and to make the prosecution prove its case. It is not his duty to see that justice is done. His proper stance is adversarial. It is his responsibility to be a partisan. The defendant is to be presumed innocent until and unless he is proven guilty.
In our system of justice, the duty of a prosecutor differs markedly from that of a defense attorney. He is not supposed to be a partisan of anyone or anything — apart from the rule of law. He is not supposed to be adversarial. It is his duty to do justice. If he has no case, it is incumbent on him to seek a dismissal of charges. If he has evidence favorable to the defense, it is his duty to provide them with that evidence in a timely fashion.
In the case of George Zimmerman, the special prosecutor, Angela Corey, made inflammatory statements to the press in such a manner as to attempt to bias the jury pool. Her team more than once delayed for months in providing pertinent evidence to the defense. In one crucial particular, the defense learned about the existence of exculpatory evidence only when alerted by an IT specialist in her office, who has since been fired for performing the duty incumbent on her.
The judge at the preliminary hearing, in a situation in which the prosecution presented not one shred of evidence suggesting even the possibility of second-degree murder, nonetheless accepted the charge. When the trial was finally held and it became evident, after the prosecution rested, that Angela Corey and her assistants had no case, the judge once again refused a defense motion to dismiss the charges. And when the defense opted not to call George Zimmerman to the stand, as was their right, the judge took it upon herself to directly question him in front of the jury before all the testimony had been heard in a fashion unprecedented, unprofessional, and prejudicial to the case presented by the defense.
The jury in this trial was not told that Trayvon Martin had been suspended from high school in October, 2011 for having burglary tools and stolen jewelry in his locker. They were not informed that he had been suspended a second time in February 2012 when he was caught with marijuana and a marijuana pipe. They were not told that the only reason that he had no criminal record is that the police chief in Miami-Dade county wanted to make it seem as if juvenile crime had gone down. They were not made aware of the taste for violence that Martin had displayed on his social media page. The photographs on Martin’s cell phone, showing him smoking pot and holding a gun, were also not made available to the jury. This evidence — suggesting that Martin was a punk more than capable of burglary and obsessed with violence — was deemed inadmissible.
In short, over the course of more than a year, the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the country’s leading media outlets, the special prosecutor, and the presiding judge did everything in their power to railroad into prison an innocent man. And in the process they ruined his life.
It is perfectly possible that George Zimmerman will be murdered. To this end, Spike Lee and Roseanne Barr early on tried to broadcast to all and sundry his address. Presumably with the same end in mind, CNN recently revealed his social security number, his telephone number, and his address. To this end, a star professional football player predicted that Zimmerman would not last a year. Threats are being tweeted now with great regularity. Zimmerman and his parents have gone into hiding. Riots are now being staged. And the leadership of the NAACP, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the prosecutors in the case, and the likes of Nancy Grace on CNN are doing everything that they can to whip up sentiment against the man in the manner of a lynch mob.
Even, however, if George Zimmerman manages to escape assassination, he will be a marked man for the rest of his life; and there is absolutely nothing that he can do to rectify the situation. He has been tried and condemned in the court of public opinion. Marion Barry has, in a celebratory manner, announced that Zimmerman will never know peace, and he is right.
Barack Obama now piously proposes that “we honor Trayvon Martin,” the burglar and dope-head who attacked and tried to murder George Zimmerman, and that we do so by working to “stem the tide of gun violence.” The implication of his remarks is that Martin was an innocent worthy of deep respect and honor and that George Zimmerman is a scoundrel who should not have been accorded the right of self-defense.
I am old enough to remember how George Wallace subtly played on the fears and racial prejudices of white Americans. In my brief time as a newspaper reporter back in 1968, I attended a press conference he gave, and I covered a rally he staged in Oklahoma City. I have seen visceral hatred up close, and I have watched a master demagogue at work.
I regret to have to say that the first African-American President of the United States and the first African-American Attorney General are cut from similar cloth. Like their associate and instrument Al Sharpton, they are racist demagogues who prey on the fears and prejudices of black Americans. And these days, our media elite, their supporters on the liberal left, and the leaders of the NAACP are no better. In pursuit of a racialist narrative, they all conspired to deny George Zimmerman a fair trial.
That Zimmerman managed nonetheless to get an acquittal is testimony to his patience and to the perseverance and courage of his lawyers. They, the Sanford police who originally investigated the slaying of Trayvon Martin, the local district attorney who reviewed the evidence and chose not to prosecute, and the members of the jury deserve accolades. Everyone else involved in this shameful business should be cashiered forthwith. The prosecutors should be disbarred, as Alan Dershowitz has argued. The judge should be impeached, and everyone else should be fired and driven with contempt and loathing from the public square.