I’m trying hard not to be a one-note blogger, folks, and I know I’ve posted several times now about the Trayvon Martin case, including one just last night. I wasn’t actually planning to revisit that subject again so soon (I swear, I had a harmless little post about recipes in mind when I woke up this morning). Unfortunately, while scanning the headlines today, I happened upon this.
A Central Florida news team – part of the Fox News family, surprisingly enough – aired an interview with the father of George Zimmerman last night which was absolutely incredible. Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, was speaking out to defend his son, and to lambaste the media and the public for the way in which he feels they have handled the discussion of the Trayvon Martin shooting. He reiterated the story that his son gave to police that night, in which Zimmerman was threatened and beaten by Martin, causing Zimmerman to fear for his life. And, just as Zimmerman’s friend Joe Oliver has been doing, he stated these accounts as fact, even though there has been nobody, other than George Zimmerman himself, to back the details of those stories up or to put forth evidence that his account is true.
But for Robert Zimmerman, it’s the public and the press that need to get their story straight, not his son. Those who are calling for Zimmerman’s arrest “are just making things up that are not true about George.” In particular, he denied that there was any racial motive to the shooting, and was very specific in his criticism of those who he feels are getting it wrong:
“I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP – every organization imaginable is trying to get notoriety or profit from this in some way. But there’s so much hate…I’ve never been involved in hate, and George hasn’t, and it’s really unbelievable.”
Anyone else notice the beauty of this statement? Robert Zimmerman is upset about the “hate” being directed toward his son, and the only individuals and groups he singles out are our (black) president, the Congressional Black Caucus (black folks), and the NAACP (more black folks). And he’s trying to make the point that he and his son don’t have a racist bone in their bodies. Just let that sink in for a minute, if you will.
Now, this interview was done before the video of George Zimmerman walking into the Sanford police station, seemingly uninjured and unruffled, had been widely circulated. It begs the question, could Robert Zimmerman have sat before the cameras and said all this, with a straight face, after this footage had been seen by more people? Could he have stuck to this story of the beating his son suffered, and the broken nose he had as a result of a punch from Trayvon Martin, after the world had seen George Zimmerman walking into that police station with no swelling, no bleeding, no apparent pain, not so much as a Band-Aid on him, and his shirt still neatly tucked into his jeans, for God’s sake?
The reporter did, in fact, ask Zimmerman’s father about this video, only to find out that he hadn’t seen it. When she informed him that the video shows “no obvious injuries” and asked him what he thinks about that information, he sounds somewhat stumped. “I have no idea what the video showed…I know his nose was broken; his scalp was cut in two different places…I don’t know. He wasn’t given any medical attention (emphasis mine), but they may have cleaned him up there at the scene. I have no idea.”
I was astounded by this interview on many levels, and if you haven’t seen it, I really suggest that you take the time to do so. The local Fox affiliate that spoke to Robert Zimmerman has posted the full video from the interview online. I won’t go into all the details that are discussed or how very off base it all sounds to me. You can be the judge of that for yourself.
But on the subject of judging, the thing that kills me about all this is this fact that George Zimmerman’s father and friends are talking out of both sides of their mouths. Those who support him are concerned about what they consider to be a lynch mob mentality in the reporting of this case, and complaining that George Zimmerman is being unfairly tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. They repeatedly state that, when the dust settles and the “facts” come out, people will see just how wrong they were about what happened.
As far as I can tell, the only way to get the facts out is to bring George Zimmerman to trial. And this, it seems, is the one thing that Zimmerman’s father, friends and other supporters are not interested in doing. They are happy enough to do these interviews and peddle their versions of events. But they haven’t done it in a court of law, under oath. They have not addressed any evidence, including the recordings of the 911 calls and the police department video, which appears to run counter to their stories. And George Zimmerman himself has yet to come forward and stand up in his own defense. Even his lawyer has avoided confrontation, choosing to run away from a scheduled interview with Lawrence O’Donnell which might have been more pointed and difficult to handle than he was ready for. If this thing does go to trial, I wonder how this guy’s going to deal with being challenged.
If anyone should know about the value of a fair trial, it is Robert Zimmerman, who is a retired magistrate from Virginia. Some have even suggested that it is his connections or influence within the judicial system that have kept his son from being charged in this case, or that he may have helped him when charges of resisting arrest and battery of a law enforcement officer, stemming from a 2005 arrest, were thrown out. If any such thing did occur, there has been no evidence to substantiate it.
But it is certain that Robert Zimmerman seems happy enough to allow his son to be tried in the court of public opinion, so long as he and other supporters can continue saying whatever nonsense they want to say without fear of legal rebuttals or cross-examination. If they truly want the facts to come out, and if George Zimmerman is as free of blame as they say he is, then they need to stop hiding, stop running, and stop using the media to spread opinions that have no legal merit and serve no purpose other than as propaganda. If they have nothing to be afraid of, the arrest and trial of George Zimmerman will be just as much a welcome ending to this episode for them as it will be to Trayvon Martin’s family, and to the people around the country who want to be sure that nobody is getting away with murder. Until this happens, however, Robert Zimmerman has no right to take up airtime on news shows to bash the media, the president, and the public for picking on his son. He can give any relevant testimony on his son’s behalf in court when the time comes, but for now, he needs to STFU.