ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Walking home from the store shouldn't cost you your life, but when Black youth

are routinely assumed to be violent criminals, being randomly killed is a constant

danger (democracynow). Before Zimmerman decided to get out of his parked car—

gun in tow—to pursue Trayvon on foot . . . as a "suspicious person"



Trayvon Martin Murdered by Wannabe Cop

Justice Department Intervenes as Zimmerman Remains Free & Armed

A Review of the Continuing Racial Tragedy by Rudolph Lewis


The red Republican states, like Florida, just as well sport the Confederate flag at their state houses, like South Carolina. The flag will state clearly for everyone to understand that the white men of the state have officially adopted the mores of the antebellum consensus of the states in rebellion. For the common white man, the Plumber Joes of the world, is being reassured of their white skin privileges by the general movement of the Republican Party toward far right policies to "shore up their base," which resides primarily in the rural areas of the South, Southwest, and  Midwest regions of the good ole U.S. of A.

This uncdercover, overstated racialism is at the heart of the present Sanford Florida tragedy that has left 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a black high school student, dead in the streets. His life snuffed out even before it had really begun, his mother and father hovering over the abyss of despair. That is especially the case in that the police and judicial forces of the state have allowed one 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a white gun-carrying male, walk free. Not only is Mr. Zimmerman walking free, he was not even arrested and his gun confiscated. He was given no sobriety test. His word only that he was attacked by a black male was satisfactory to the local police forces.

After over three weeks of the story being passed around on social media, the nation generally has become aware of this racist situation and finds it appalling. Monday (the 19th) MSNBC broadcast and rebroadcast the story on several of its evening programs. Protests on the streets of Florida have already begun. Al Sharpton and his posse are headed south to seek justice for Trayvon and his family. Below I have collected a few newsclips that will fill in the details of this murderous incident and the search for justice.

posted 20 March 2012

They killed my son and now they're trying to kill his reputation—Sybrina Fulton (26 March 2012)

 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.—Robert Zimmerman (28 March 2012)

For minutes it seemed Trayvon Martin knew he was being followed by this unidentified person behind him. At one

point he said there`s this crazy white dude behind me. I don`t know why he`s following me. And this continues. He tries

to run, and then he walks. And then he thinks he loses Zimmerman. And Zimmerman catches up to him. And then they had

this confrontation, Trayvon Martin asking Zimmerman, why are you following me? Zimmerman responding, what are you

doing here? And the next  thing that this 16-year-old girl says, Dee Dee, that she heard was a scuffle. Trayvon`s treasured

phone falls to the ground. She hears the rustle in the grass, and then the phone cuts out.—Matt Gunman (28 March 2012)



I would like to extend my very deepest sympathies to the family and other loved ones of murdered teenager, Treyvon Martin. I am very sad today (and am certain the whole of Ireland is) to learn of poor Treyvon’s terrifying ordeal and horrified by the fact his known and named and admitted killer has not been arrested, despite the crime having taken place a month ago. This is a disgrace to the entire human race.

For those out there who believe black people to be less than pure royalty, let me inform you of a little known, but scientifically proven, many times over, FACT. Which after reading, you will hopefully feel both very stupid and very sorry. For you dishonor your own mothers and grandmothers.

EVERY human being on earth, no matter what their culture, creed, skin colour, or nationality, shares one gene traceable back to one African woman. Scientists have named it ‘The Eve Gene’. This means ALL of us, even ridiculously stupid, ignorant, perverted, blaspheming racists are the descendants of one African woman.

One African woman is the mother of all of us. Africa was the first world. You come from there! Your skin may be ‘white’.. because you didn’t need it to be black any more where you lived. But as Curtis Mayfield said.. ‘You’re just the surface of our dark, deep well’. So you’re being morons. And God is having the last laugh at your ignorant expense.

If you hate black people, its yourself you hate. And the mother who bore you. If you kill or wish ill on black people, its yourself you kill and wish ill on. As well as the mother who bore you.—Sinead O’Conner

It is a tragedy and it is a shame that we're sitting here 33 days later and there hasn't been an arrest, or

questioning of what actually happened.  It's a tragedy and it is a shame and we all know it.—Oprah Winfrey



We are very—we are a very sick country. And our racism is a manifestation of our illness and the ways that we don’t delve into our own wrecks. You know, I mean, we—as a country, we are a wreck. And part of it is that we have never looked to see where it was we went off the trail, you know. So, as shocking, as painful—I could barely look at what had happened for several days. And now I am looking at it, and I just—you know, I feel so much for this young man, because he was beautiful, and he was ours. And I don’t mean just, you know, ours, black people, but all of ours. I mean, these children, they are our future, and they have to be protected.

And I also feel that what is happening, people seem so mystified about why Zimmerman has not been arrested. But if he’s arrested, the police department is in big trouble. So, he knows so much about that police department. And I would think, too, that he should be under some kind of guard now. And if I were his family, that is what I would be concentrating on, if they care about him, keeping him alive, so that whatever happens, he will be able to speak.—Alice Walker 

I think "walking while black" for men, they’re more in fear of being killed. We, as women, are disrespected. And I think I wrote about that in my article. I was taken for—if I was standing on the street at a certain—at night, or even sometimes in the daytime, if I’m standing alone, I was immediately—there was an assumption that I was a prostitute sort of plying my trade, and I was approached very disrespectfully by white men, mostly. African-American men, as I’ve said, are more in fear for their lives. I was just insulted constantly. And it’s something that’s in the back of your mind all the time. You’re a little bit nervous about how you’re being perceived, so you’re always trying to behave—you’re always trying to be better than or even trying to be—as Mamie told us, you’re going to have to be superior. You’re going to have to do so much better than anybody else would have to do, because people immediately expect you to be—they have a stereotype of you, and you’re going to have to defy that. And you have that feeling all of the time. And that’s for black men and black women. . . .

I don’t feel as though—I mean, I live with this every day, and I think a lot of people forget this. I don’t know how much progress has been made. We look—every now and then we see someone who makes it. We have Obama. We have these—we have things like that. But your everyday life, your day-to-day life, if you’re an African-American woman or man, you still feel the things that my parents felt. You’re still nervous about the things that my parents were nervous about. You’re still mistaken—or, you’re still treated the way that my parents were afraid that I would be treated. It’s just an everyday thing for me. So, for those who think that it’s over, they’re not walking in our shoes. We know what goes on every day. We feel this every day.—Cynthia Dagnal-Myron

Trayvon Martin’s body was found in this part of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla., where his father’s girlfriend lives.

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George Zimmerman Prepared to Flee U.S. With $130,000 Judge Says—Matt Gutman and Colleen—Sanford, Florida—5 July 2012—George Zimmerman was preparing to flee the U.S. with his wife and $130,000 donated by supporters while he was out of jail on bond awaiting his murder trial for the death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida judge wrote today.

Zimmerman, whose bail was raised to $1 million, "was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution, but such plans were thwarted," Judge Kenneth Lester wrote in the bond order released today. Lester berated Zimmerman for misleading the court about how much money he and his wife had stashed in bank accounts. In June, prosecutors proved to the court that Zimmerman had tried to appear indigent to the judge, when in reality he had hundreds of thousands of dollars that supporters had donated to help his legal defense.

Lester said that Zimmerman "flaunted the system," by misleading the court about how much cash he and his wife had in bank accounts. Zimmerman was out on $150,000 bond when the ruse was discovered by prosecutors. He had been charged in April with second-degree murder for killing the unarmed 17-year-old in February. . . .

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, declined to comment to ABC News but released a statement today saying that Zimmerman planned to use the money in his legal defense fund to post bond and that the fund needed more money in order to mount a successful defense. "While it may seem that there is a lot of money in the fund, this will be a very expensive case to defend and it is clear that the fight will be long and hard," the statement read. "Now is the time to show your support."

Lester ordered today that Zimmerman could only be released from jail now if he could come up with $1 million bond, which Zimmerman may be able to do by drawing on the more than $200,000 in donations and paying 10 percent to a bail bondsman. . . .

"It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people's money," Lester wrote.

"The defendant also neglected to disclose that he had a valid second passport in his safe deposit box. Notably, together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the defendant made a quick decision to flee," the judge wrote. Prosecutors declined to comment on Lester's order. . . .

In addition, a forensic accountant for the defense, Adam Magill, walked the court through the donations to Zimmerman's legal defense fund. Under cross examination, however, accountant Adam Magill testified that Zimmerman and his wife had shifted about $132,000 between four accounts, often transferring sums of $9,999. Transfers of $10,000 or more are required to be noted by banks and a prosecutor suggested it was intended "to make it look like he didn't have the money."

Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara said Zimmerman's credibility will now be a major issue which he will have to address. O'Mara also argued for the bond last week, telling the judge that the prosecution had a weak case against his client.abcnews

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Bond Revocation Renews Doubts About Zimmerman's Credibility—Dax-Devlon Ross—2 June 2012One would think they’d know better than to try to deceive the court. After all, the outcome of the trial will ultimately be determined by Zimmerman’s credibility and his state of mind at the time of the murder. At the end of last month, several media organizations submitted motions requesting access to the documents that the prosecution has thus far refused to release. Citing an exception to the state’s rules regarding the public’s access to case information, the state argues that the threat these documents pose to fair administration of justice requires that they remain sealed. 

It is believed that among these documents are the conflicting statements Zimmerman offered to authorities and that the release of those statements could further imperil Zimmerman’s credibility.In a way, the Zimmermans are getting off easy. Perjury is committed whenever a person intentionally gives a false statement that is material to a judicial proceeding while under oath. Shelly’s false statements at the April 20 hearing were indeed material therefore she could have very well been charged with perjury.dominionofnewyork

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Prosecutors Say Zimmerman Hid Second Passport Lied About Money—Aram Roston—1 June 2012 In addition to the passport allegations, prosecutors also disclosed on Friday what the state’s attorney called an elaborate scheme by Zimmerman and his wife, Shelly, to conceal their true financial status from the court.

Zimmerman “intentionally deceived the court with the assistance of his wife,” according to the prosecution’s motion to revoke his bail. At the April 20 bond hearing, Shelly Zimmerman testified that she knew nothing (PDF) about any funds in a PayPal account George had set up for donations, and said she believed she and her husband had no money to post for bond.

After the bond hearing, Zimmerman was released on $150,000 bond. Bond is typically assured with a payment of ten percent, or $15,000 in this case. Despite being in jail, prosecutors said, Zimmerman ‘was intimately involved in the deposit and transfer of moneys into various accounts.’ He ‘was directing the show’ from his prison cell.

(A week after the bond hearing, Zimmerman’s lawyer revealed that Zimmerman’s now defunct website had raised over $200,000.) In reality, prosecutors say, the Zimmermans had access to $135,000. Further, prosecutors claimed, despite being in jail Zimmerman “was intimately einvolved in the deposit and transfer of monies into various accounts.” He “was directing the show” from his prison cell, according to the motion.Prosecutors referred to recorded phone conversations between Zimmerman and his wife, which they said were conducted “in code” in order to deceive authorities.—thedailybeast

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Documents Reveal New Details in Trayvon Martin Killing—18 May 2012Florida prosecutors have released a trove of documents revealing new details about the night George Zimmerman shot dead the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. The evidence indicates a fight occurred between the two but police determined the deadly encounter was "ultimately avoidable" if Zimmerman had "remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement." The police also concluded, "There is no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter." Autopsy results show Martin died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, with the bullet going through his heart. The new documents also show Sanford police received an anonymous tip less than two full days after the shooting — before it became widely known to the public. The caller refused to identify herself but said that Zimmerman "has racist ideologies and ... is fully capable of instigating a confrontation that could have escalated to the point of [him] having to use deadly force." The caller was never tracked down.—democracynow


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New Evidence Filed in Trayvon Martin Case—May 15, 2012—Late Monday, Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara confirmed he received the evidence at his office. It consists of dozens of CDs and numerous paper documents. “It’s 67 CDs. That’s about all I know,” O’Mara said. Most names were redacted from witness and evidence documents, but six civilian witnesses were named: Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin; his brother, Jahvarius Fulton, and Zimmerman’s neighbor, Frank Taaffe, friend Joe Oliver and father, Robert Zimmerman.

The document listed 18 Sanford police officers as primary witnesses, including lead Investigator Chris Serino. Corey’s office also turned over five reports prepared by him, as well as written reports prepared by four other Sanford officers. The list includes new video evidence from the night of the shooting—both from the 7-Eleven store where Martin reportedly purchased Skittles and Arizona iced tea and from a clubhouse in Retreat at Twin Lakes, the townhouse complex where the teen was killed.

Other video, showing Zimmerman being taken into the Sanford Police Department after the shooting, already has been made public. Crime scene photos of both Zimmerman and the teen also are listed in the documents filed Monday, as is Martin’s autopsy report. Also included in the evidence are phone records—Zimmerman’s from Feb. 20-Feb. 26 and from March 7-March 22, Martin’s from Jan. 1-March 1, and those of an unnamed witness labeled “W8″ from Feb. 26-April 2.

The list includes 40 audio-recorded statements. One of the 911 callers, identified as “W6,” gave four statements to authorities about the shooting, two to Sanford police, one to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and one to the prosecution’s lead trial attorney, Bernie de la Rionda.W8 gave two statements—one to prosecutors and one to Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, which suggests W8 may be the girl described by Crump as Martin’s girlfriend.Other primary witnesses include four FDLE investigators, three investigators from the office of state attorney Norm Wolfinger and two from Corey’s office, including Dale Gilbreath, who hand-delivered the list to Seminole County clerks about 20 minutes before their doors closed for the day Monday.

Five fire-rescue personnel are listed as witnesses. So are a fingerprints expert with Sanford police, and FDLE experts in the fields of firearms, DNA, trace evidence and fingerprints. Also listed as witnesses are a New Jersey forensics expert, two employees with the Volusia County medical examiner’s office and a pair of FBI audio experts. The list also includes Tom Owen and Ed Primeau, two audio analysts who told reporters they believe the screams heard in one 911 call were those of Martin, not Zimmerman.africanglobe

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George Zimmerman Released After Posting Bail—Matt Flegenheimer—23 April 2012—George Zimmerman was released on $150,000 bail from a county jail in Florida around midnight Sunday as he awaits trial on charges of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. As he left, Mr. Zimmerman was wearing a brown jacket and blue jeans and carrying a paper bag. He followed a man, who was also carrying bags, into a white vehicle and drove away, according to The Associated Press. His destination was being kept secret for his protection and could be outside of Florida.

The release was a rare low-key moment in a case that has captured feverish national interest in recent weeks. No questions were shouted at Mr. Zimmerman as he left and he gave no statement, The A.P. said. Last week, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, said his client would remain in jail for several days until arrangements were made for financing his bond and finding a secure location. Mr. Zimmerman has received death threats.

During a hearing last week, a Seminole County Circuit Court judge set the bail and imposed a series of restrictions on Mr. Zimmerman’s release. He was not to contact the Martin family or witnesses to the shooting. The judge, Kenneth R. Lester Jr., also set a curfew requiring Mr. Zimmerman to remain at home from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and banned access to alcohol or firearms. The judge also stipulated that Mr. Zimmerman’s movements be monitored with an electronic bracelet. The bail figure was considerably less severe than prosecutors’ request for no bail or $1 million.—nytimes

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‘I Am Sorry,’ Zimmerman Says as Bail Is Set at $150,000—Serge F. Kovaleski and Jennifer Preston—20 April 2012—Sanford, Fla. — Speaking publicly about the case for the first time, George Zimmerman, the man accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, briefly took the witness stand at his bail hearing on Friday and apologized to the teenager’s parents.  “I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Mr. Zimmerman, 28, said in a soft voice from the stand, dressed in a dark suit, with his hands locked in cuffs, and shackles at his feet and waist. “I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not.” Mr. Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, sitting in the second row of the courtroom here, showed little emotion during Mr. Zimmerman’s remarks. They did not comment after the hearing ended, hurrying to a waiting car. One of their lawyers, Benjamin Crump, said later that Mr. Martin’s family was “completely devastated” by the Seminole County Circuit Court judge’s decision to allow Mr. Zimmerman to be released from jail on $150,000 bail, which was considerably less severe than the prosecutors’ request for no bail or $1 million.—nytimes

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Searching for Justice in FloridaWP Editorial—11 April 2012Law and order were advanced in Florida by the decision of a special state prosecutor to bring second-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watchman who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager. It is critically important for the prosecution and the defense to present the fullest explanation of the shooting before an impartial jury. The need for a thorough investigation of Mr. Zimmerman’s conduct has been obvious since the day of the shooting in February. The killing stirred national outrage after the local police department failed to bring charges and accepted Mr. Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense under the state’s dangerous Stand Your Ground law. . . . It has hobbled the work of prosecutors by requiring them to disprove a shooter’s claim of self-defense when a slain victim cannot contradict that claim.

Angela Corey, the special prosecutor, declined to discuss details of the case but said that if the Stand Your Ground law is invoked by the defense, “we will fight it” with evidence that the shooting was unjustified. In this case, Mr. Zimmerman exited his car to follow the teenager despite a 911 dispatcher’s warning: “We don’t need you to do that.”

The Department of Justice has also been conducting a separate investigation, which could potentially result in charges on civil rights violations. Trayvon Martin was black, and Mr. Zimmerman is Hispanic. As the case proceeds, the Stand Your Ground law should be on trial as well. It has invited gun owners to flirt with vigilantism by eliminating the traditional requirement to seek a path of retreat before resorting to force in self-defense cases. Claims of justifiable homicide have tripled in Florida since 2005, when the state became the first in the country to enact such a law. A score of other states have followed suit. That the Police Department in Sanford, Fla., did not bring charges weeks ago shows how this law undermines the justice system and harms public safety. It must be repealed if the Trayvon Martin case is to advance the meaning of justice.nytimes

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Severe Charge, With a Minimum Term of 25 Years—John Schwartz—11 April 2012—By choosing to charge George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, Angela B. Corey, the special prosecutor appointed to the case in Florida, selected the toughest possible charge involving a killing short of first-degree murder, which requires a finding of premeditation and carries the death penalty as a possible punishment. Under second-degree murder, the jury must find that a death was caused by a criminal act “demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life,” said Eric Abrahamsen, a criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee, reading from the state’s standard jury instructions. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison; the minimum penalty under these charges is 25 years.

Dan Markel, a law professor at Florida State University, said he was “very surprised” by the severity of the charges “in light of the evidence that seems to have been brought to the attention of the public so far.” Many legal experts had predicted that Mr. Zimmerman would be charged with manslaughter. The charge of second-degree murder also means that Mr. Zimmerman will not be entitled to be released on bail before his trial. Instead, his lawyer will be able to ask for what Florida calls an Arthur hearing, which can take place weeks after the arrest, to determine whether he should be allowed to post bond.

Jeff Weiner, a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers who practices in Miami, said an Arthur hearing “is not a mini-trial, but it’s a very good preview of the evidence that the state has at this point.” Mr. Weiner suggested that the prosecutor might have “overcharged” to retain the option, should she feel a murder conviction is slipping away, of asking the judge to instruct the jury to consider lesser offenses, like manslaughter. It is also possible, he said, that she might be trying to coax Mr. Zimmerman to the negotiating table to plead guilty to such a lesser charge. But, he added, it is impossible to say whether it is overly tough, since evidence has not yet been produced.

The case will almost certainly include a pretrial hearing to determine whether the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which grants broad protections to people who claim to have killed in self-defense, applies; if the judge finds that Mr. Zimmerman acted appropriately, the case will end there. If the judge decides that the protections of the law do not apply, the case will go forward.  At trial, however, the question of self-defense can be brought up again and possibly will, said Robert Weisberg, a criminal law expert at Stanford Law School. That could lead to a fallback position for the jury — if allowed by the judge — of a lesser verdict of manslaughter should the jury decide that Mr. Zimmerman sincerely but unreasonably believed that he was appropriately using lethal force to defend himself, which is known as “imperfect self-defense.”

Either side in the case could request that the judge instruct the jury to consider that middle ground, and if the evidence supports such a finding the judge will in almost all cases comply, Professor Weisberg said. A confident prosecutor may not want to risk missing the toughest conviction, however, and a confident defense lawyer may not want to risk giving the jurors a lesser charge that they can choose instead of acquittal. And so, he said, the question may come down to, “Who’s feeling lucky?”nytimes

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Angela Corey, special prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case, is tough on crime, ‘wants to do the right thing’—Corey decides no grand jury, fate of George Zimmerman is in her hands—Philip Caulfield—10 April 2012—The fate of George Zimmerman now rests in the hands of one of Florida's toughest prosecutors. State Attorney Angela Corey was thrust into the national spotlight on Monday when she announced that she - and not a grand jury - would decide whether to charge Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26. The former special prosecutor on the case, Norman Wolfinger, called for a grand jury in March, but later recused himself from the case. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey to take over on March 23.

Corey, 57, is a Republican and was elected in 2008. She serves in Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit Court, which is made up of three right-leaning counties in northeast Florida. She is widely known as one of her state's most passionate and aggressive prosecutors. During Corey’s three year tenure, the population in Jacksonville's Duval County jail has risen, despite a drop in crime in the city and an overall drop in prison populations around the state, according to a study of her record by the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. "The single most important factor as to why the jail is so full in Duval County is prosecutorial style—Angela Corey's aggressive style as prosecutor," Michael Hallett, the chairman of criminology and criminal justice at the school who led the study, told Reuters. "

Compared to her predecessor, she is much more aggressive in terms of filing criminal charges, much less likely to dismiss charges... She prosecutes every potential charge to the hilt," Hallett added. Corey grew up in Jacksonville and went to Florida State before getting her law degree at University of Florida. Before the Martin case, she was best known for seeking a first-degree murder indictment against Cristian Fernandez, a 12-year-old accused of killing his 2-year-old brother by smashing his head into a bookshelf. Fernandez, now 13, is the youngest person ever to be charged with murder as an adult in Florida and could get life in prison.

Critics attack Corey for lacking compassion. Corey said the charge was a reflection of the brutal murder. "I have compassion for Cristian Fernandez, but it's not my job to forgive," Corey told reporters at the time. "It's my job to follow the law." Corey's decision on Monday was likely not a surprise to those familiar with her work. She has a record of avoiding grand juries, and last month, she told the Miami Herald her office would probably proceed on its own. Both the Zimmerman and Martin camps have said the decision favors their case.nydailynews

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Walter Mosley on Trayvon Martin Case and Racial Identity—Walter Mosley—9 April 2012—So is race just a matter of self-identification or people identifying you as part of an ethnic group because of their estimation of your appearance? Probably. But even here, in the fiction of our minds, we must deal with the fallout from arbitrary racial identification. If George Zimmerman didn’t think of himself as a white man, does that mean he could not have committed a crime based on race-interpretation? And even if he was free of racism, does that mean that the handling of the case does not have racist overtones? Is George Zimmerman’s race a pivotal question in the slaughter of Trayvon Martin? If he, Zimmerman, were a so-called white man, would justice ever seriously consider indicting him?

If he were a so-called black man, would this no longer be a case of racism? If someone of our president’s racial configuration shot Martin, would the nation, fueled by the media, be up in arms? Would the national media even cover such a crime? I don’t believe so. There are solid reasons (but not excuses) for these oversights and exclusions. We often look upon the face that represents the enemy and focus our rage on the perceived characteristics of that visage. In reality racial prejudice is a centuries-old system of ownership-based justice and virtually unconscious cultural bigotry. Preconceptions, false identifiers, and lessons in history that have gaps wider than the Grand Canyon make up the foundation for this solitary crime that, in my opinion, has been so misconstrued.

The crime is an unarmed man-child shot down in the streets of America when the admitted shooter is allowed to walk free. The crime is a nation of possible Florida vacationers who have to march in protest in order to get the tourism-based state to turn its eye toward justice. The crime is a corporate-owned media that picks and chooses among the cases for which it will open the floodgates of national opinion. The crime is the everyday citizen of America in the 21st century using archaic and inaccurate terms such as white and black rather than fellow American. The crime is a broader media that has convinced our citizens that they are in such imminent danger that they feel it necessary to vote for legislation such as Stand Your Ground.

And so much goes unreported and unseen: the daily deaths of innocent children in Afghanistan; the rapes, brutalities, and routine humiliations visited upon the millions of our citizens cycling in and out of the prison system; the mentally ill, aged, and orphaned citizens who no longer have a voice or maybe never had one. The tragedy of Trayvon Martin represents all of this and more. If we can see this injustice as the underpinning for a systemic transformation in which we might truly open up the media and investigate our racial, cultural, and economic assumptions, then we will have crossed that great divide from the sexist, classist, and racist 20th century into a world where young men like Martin aren’t in danger from the fear foisted upon us by the very systems that now pretend to seek justice. The legal system does not care about Trayvon or what happened to him. Dollar signs fuel the media coverage and motivate the Republican governor.

Now and again a case like this incites the public so much that we step forth and say, “This is wrong.” But we must be aware that this injustice is part and parcel to everything we (falsely) believe and therefore everything we are, and are not. The Trayvon Martin killing is the tip of the iceberg and we are the ill-fated Titanic.—thedailybeast

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NY Times Columnist Charles Blow Releases Racist Voicemail—Claudio E. Cabrera—5 April 2012—But like many black journalists covering the case, Blow joins Don Lemon, Goldie Taylor and others who say they have experienced racism due to their coverage. And while Lemon and Taylor have tweets to show for it, Blow today tweeted a voicemail left on his phone from a man who spewed a message of hate. The man, who remains unidentified, spoke for a minute and 12 seconds calling Blow a "coon," "nigger" and asking why Blow doesn't cover the amount of black people killing whites every day in this country. He also called the dead Trayvon Martin a "pot-smoking, jewelry thievin' nigger boy." After receiving a deluge of responses supporting his commentary on the Trayvon Martin case, Blow continued on the high road and tweeted to his 46, 467 followers, "'Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.' — Oscar Wilde." You can listen to the rest of the voicemail here.loop21

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Study: Republicans, whites more tired of Trayvon Martin coverage—CNN Wire Staff—5 April 2012—Sanford, Florida While the story behind Trayvon Martin's shooting death continues to grab headlines, interest in the case is sharply divided along partisan and racial lines, according to a new study by Pew Research Center.Far more Republicans (56%) than Democrats (25%) say there has been too much coverage of Martin's death, according to Pew, which surveyed a "nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults" last Thursday through Sunday about top new stories. In addition, 43% of whites said the story has garnered too much coverage, compared with just 16% of blacks, Pew said. Martin's death fractured not just public interest opinions; it also continues to divide supporters of the slain Florida teen and those of George Zimmerman, the man who admitted killing the 17-year-old but claims he did so in self-defense.

Rallies nationwide have called for Zimmerman's arrest, decrying the Sanford Police Department's handling of the case. On Tuesday, Martin family attorney Jasmine Rand insisted again that a former prosecutor in the case, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, met with the now sidelined Sanford police Chief Bill Lee the night of the killing and overruled a police detective urging that Zimmerman be arrested. Rand said the family's legal team has multiple, credible sources who say Wolfinger and Lee met that night. She declined to elaborate. FBI agents were in Sanford on Tuesday, continuing their interviews in a civil rights investigation. Martin family supporters say the situation is a clear-cut case of racial profiling leading to an unjust killing. On Monday, agents interviewed Martin's girlfriend, the 16-year-old girl who, phone records show, was on the line with him shortly before the fatal confrontation, Martin family attorney Daryl Parks confirmed Tuesday.

Martin's family and supporters say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, profiled Martin, who was black, as "suspicious" and ignored a police dispatcher's request that he not follow him. Martin had a bag of Skittles and an iced tea at the time of his death. The 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer has said Martin punched him and slammed his head into a sidewalk before the shooting, according to family members and police. Zimmerman's legal adviser, Craig Sonner, said Tuesday that criminal defense lawyer Hal Uhrig would represent Zimmerman and that Sonner would serve as co-counsel if the case were to proceed. Uhrig spent more than six years with the Gainesville Police Department in Florida before graduating from law school in 1974.—cnn

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Trayvon Martin Resolution Introduced By Congressional Black Caucus—4 March 2012—WASHINGTON—The Congressional Black Caucus unveiled a resolution on Wednesday that honors the life of Trayvon Martin and calls for the repeal of "Stand Your Ground" gun laws in every state that has one, including Florida, where Martin was killed. "Florida's misguided 'Stand Your Ground' law does not make our streets safer, rather it turns our streets into a showdown at the OK Corral," Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), a sponsor of the resolution, said in a statement.

"But this is not the Wild West. We are supposed to be a civilized society. Let Trayvon's death not be for naught. Let us honor his life by righting this wrong, and seeing that justice is served for Trayvon and his family. George Zimmerman must be prosecuted for his admitted shooting of Trayvon Martin and the 'Stand Your Ground' law must be repealed." Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who represents the Sanford, Fla., district where the unarmed 17-year-old was shot dead in February by a self-appointed neighborhood watch volunteer, said Congress should pass the resolution because Martin's death "speaks to the reality that racial profiling still exists in America.”—huffingtonpost


FBI begins "parallel investigation" into Trayvon Martin shooting—Casey Glynn—3 April 2012— The FBI has begun its own investigation into the shooting of Fla. teen Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who claims he acted in self defense. According to NBC, agents were questioning potential witnesses on Monday as part of a "parallel investigation" to determine if Martin's civil rights were violated. An FBI official tells NBC that the bureau is investigating Zimmerman's background in order to determine whether he was racially motivated to pursue the unarmed 17-year-old after calling 911 to report Martin as 'suspicious.'—cbsnews

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Race, Tragedy and Outrage Collide After a Shot in Florida—1 April 2012—With his hood up as the rain came down, Trayvon made his way to one gated community among many, the Retreat at Twin Lakes. Past a dozen storefronts, four of them vacant. Past signs and billboards shouting “Now Leasing!” and “Rent Specials!” His was a tour of a post-bust stretch of Sanford.

For more than two years now, Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, a truck driver from Miami, had been dating Brandy Green, a juvenile detention officer in Orlando. She lived at the Retreat with her 14-year-old son, Chad, and it was not uncommon for the Martins to drive up from Miami for overnight visits. Over six feet tall and lanky, Trayvon was interested in girls, computer games, sports and the beat of the rap and hip-hop emanating from the ear buds of his smartphone. Sleeping in Miami Dolphins bedsheets, he was all teenage boy, and more.

He called himself “Slimm” on Twitter, and used a handle, @no_limit_nigga, that echoed a song by the rappers Kane & Abel. On Facebook, he expressed interest in airplanes and “South Park”; Bob Marley and LeBron James. On MySpace, he posted snapshots of his young life: admiring an airplane; fishing with his father; displaying a cake decorated with the words “Happy Birthday Tray.”

Easygoing, with a default mood set at “chillin’,” as one schoolmate, Suzannah Charles, put it. The kind of kid who made tiny cakes in an Easy-Bake Oven with his 7-year-old cousin; who spoon-fed a close uncle, Ronald Fulton, who is quadriplegic, when his nurse was unavailable; who was an integral part of a close-knit family—raised properly, family members say, by Mr. Martin and his ex-wife, Sybrina Fulton, who works for Miami-Dade County’s housing agency.

Ms. Green described him as the kind of kid who did not bring attitude into a house, and who knew how to behave respectfully in the homes of others. “He was smooth, quiet,” she said. “He took care of his appearance. He had swag.” But Trayvon was a teenager, not an angel. In his last year at his high school in north Miami-Dade County, he had received three suspensions—for tardiness, for graffiti and, most recently, for having a baggie with a trace of marijuana in his backpack.

This last suspension, for 10 days, was enough for Trayvon’s father, who stayed on top of him about his whereabouts and middling grades; after all, he wanted to go to college, just like his quiet older brother, Jahvaris Fulton, 21, a student at Florida International University. Mr. Martin said that he had taken Trayvon with him to Sanford to keep him from hanging around Miami, doing nothing, and to talk some sense into him.

These recent problems, all nonviolent, hardly reflected the essence of Trayvon Martin, his family and friends say. He was kindhearted, even-tempered and very thoughtful. That night, for example, while his father and Ms. Green were out having dinner in Orlando, Trayvon asked Chad, Ms. Green’s son, if he wanted anything from the store. Skittles, the younger boy said.nytimes / The Events Leading to the Shooting of Trayvon Martin

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Trayvon Martin shooting: It's not George Zimmerman crying for help  on 911 recording,  2 experts say—31 March 2012—Jeff Weiner—As the Trayvon Martin  controversy splinters into a debate about self-defense, a central question remains: Who was heard crying for help on a 911 call in the moments before the teen was shot?

A leading expert in the field of forensic voice identification sought to answer that question by analyzing the recordings for the Orlando Sentinel. His result: It was not George Zimmerman who called for help.Tom Owen, forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services LLC and chair emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence, used voice identification software to rule out Zimmerman. Another expert contacted by the Sentinel, utilizing different techniques, came to the same conclusion.Zimmerman claims self-defense in the shooting and told police he was the one screaming for help. But these experts say the evidence tells a different story.

'Scientific certainty' On a rainy night in late February, a woman called 911 to report someone crying out for help in her gated Sanford community, Retreat at Twin Lakes. Though several of her neighbors eventually called authorities, she phoned early enough for dispatchers to hear the panicked cries and the gunshot that took Trayvon Martin's life.George Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, shot Trayvon, an unarmed 17-year-old, during a one-on-one confrontation Feb. 26. Before the shot, one of them can be heard screaming for help.

Owen, a court-qualified expert witness and former chief engineer for the New York Public Library's Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, is an authority on biometric voice analysis — a computerized process comparing attributes of voices to determine whether they match. After the Sentinel contacted Owen, he used software called Easy Voice Biometrics to compare Zimmerman's voice to the 911 call screams. "I took all of the screams and put those together, and cut out everything else," Owen says.

The software compared that audio to Zimmerman's voice. It returned a 48 percent match. Owen said to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he'd expect higher than 90 percent. "As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman," Owen says, stressing that he cannot confirm the voice as Trayvon's, because he didn't have a sample of the teen's voice to compare. Forensic voice identification is not a new or novel concept; in fact, a recent U.S. Department of Justice committee report notes that federal interest in the technology "has a history of nearly 70 years." In the post 9-11 world, Owen says, voice identification is "the main biometric tool" used to track international criminals, as well as terrorists.orlandosentinel

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Cruelty—Ta-Nehisi Coates—30 March 2012—As noted below, the attack on the memory of Trayvon Martin began with the exposure of his twitter feed, proceeded apace to the selective posting of pictures, moved with great energy to the faking of pictures, and has now found its natural terminus in unbridled white supremacy. . . . I would not withhold the life of Trayvon Martin from scrutiny and investigation. When someone claims a vicious assault upon their person—as George Zimmerman has—it is only intelligent to investigate the relevant background of the alleged assailant. It certainly is relevant to ask what, precisely, Martin was suspended for. It surely is important to ask if Martin had a history of violence. Whether or not Martin had a criminal record, most certainly is pertinent.

But what, precisely, is the relevance of wearing gold grills? What, specifically, is the pertinence of having once given an obscene gesture? Why, exactly, does it matter that Martin's imagination sometimes ranged into profane thoughts of sex and violence?  How does any of this help us understand his killing at the hands of by George Zimmerman?

It does not—unless you believe that the fact that Martin once gave a middle finger to a camera somehow proves that he is the sort of person who would saunter up to a man who outweighs by nearly 100 pounds, summon the powers of Thor, deck the man with one-shot, and stove him against concrete. We do not draw such conclusions from most teenagers, or even most people. That those who see nothing wrong with labeling a black man as a "Food Stamp President," would draw them in the case of young black boy cannot be dismissed as coincidental. . . . It is cruelty to sneer at the unguarded thoughts of dead children. But it is the specific cruelty of racism that prevents so many from ever seeing Martin as a child.—theatlantic

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George Zimmerman’s crumbling story, part 3: the detective—Jonathan Capehart29 March 2012—Justice might be blind, but she’s not dumb. And lead detective Investigator Chris Serino set out to prove it. Serino didn’t believe Zimmerman’s version of events and recommended a manslaughter charge. But he was overruled. And according to a report from Joy-Ann Reid of the Grio yesterday, the decision came from atop the law enforcement food chain: the state attorney.

A source with knowledge of the investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin tells the Grio that it was then Sanford police chief Bill Lee, along with Capt. Robert O’Connor, the investigations supervisor, who made the decision to release George Zimmerman on the night of February 26th, after consulting with State Attorney Norman Wolfinger—in person. Wolfinger told Serino that he didn’t think there was enough evidence to charge Zimmerman. According to ABC News, Serino then filed an affidavit the night of Feb. 26 stating he didn’t believe Zimmerman. And we are now finding out that Serino then set out to bring the neighborhood watch volunteer to justice.

In an interview with the Rev. Al Sharpton and later with Lawrence O’Donnell, Cheryl Brown, the mother of a 13-year-old eyewitness said that Serino told her that he didn’t believe Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.

[Serino] told me that he and the other officer with him felt that it was not self-defense and that they needed to prove it wasn’t self-defense. And he said that I needed to read between the line because there was some stereotyping going on.... I took it to mean that he felt that George Zimmerman committed this crime based on whether it’s stereotyping or racial profiling or whatever you want to call it. But those were his words. Stereotyping.

Serino was the one who recounted Zimmerman’s version of events for Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father. Martin told us in a meeting yesterday at The Post that he asked Serino if a background check was done on Zimmerman. Yes, one was, he was told, and he was “squeaky clean.” But Martin had another question. “By Zimmerman being ‘squeaky clean,’” he wanted to know, “did that give him the right to shoot and kill my son?” What Martin said Serino said next fits an emerging pattern. “[H]e said it certainly didn’t. That he was going to do everything that he could do to catch this guy in a lie.”washingtonpost

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George Zimmerman’s ‘Justified’ defense?—Jonathan Capehart—30 March 2012—The killer’s father, Robert Zimmerman, told a Fox Tampa Bay reporter that his son told him, “Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of ‘you’re going to die now,’ or ‘you’re going to die tonight.’ Or something to that effect.” Fast forward to 2:10 to hear him say this. Trayvon Martin threatened to kill George Zimmerman, Zimmerman's father says: . . . “And the reason why George Zimmerman could not have told the Sanford Police the Quarles quote after his shooting of Treyvon is because this episode of ‘Justified’ had not aired yet,” Money Train wrote. “And ‘Justified’ is an action packed ‘shoot first’ vigilante law drama that I could easily see George Zimmerman watching regularly.” Coincidence? What piqued my interest in what father Zimmerman said was that in the middle of that scream-filled life-and-death struggle where heads are being bashed into sidewalks, there was time for that bit of dramatic “monologuing”? Like the Zimmerman family’s public relations offensive on behalf of George, it doesn’t make sense. After the video of George’s arrival at the Sanford Police Department looking like he was arrested for illegally driving a golf cart instead of killing an unarmed 17-year-old, none of what they’ve said makes any sense. They want us to disbelieve our eyes and ears.washingtonpost

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George Zimmerman’s crumbling story, part 2: the mortician—Jonathan Capehart—29 March 2012—The SPD [Sanford Police Department] video ABC News aired last night raised serious doubts about Zimmerman’s account of a life-and-death struggle. Then, Richard Kurtz, the funeral director of the mortuary that received Trayvon’s body, stepped forward last night on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” to knock another huge hole in Zimmerman’s story. The unarmed 17-year-old showed no signs of struggle.

According to Zimmerman, Trayvon clocked him in the face and felled him with one punch. Trayvon then jumped on top of him and then repeatedly banged Zimmerman’s head on the sidewalk. That’s what the police told Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father. But when O’Donnell asked Kurtz if Trayvon’s body showed any signs that would support that version of events, Kurtz said, “I didn’t see anything to support that story.”

We asked Martin and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, if they had a chance to see their son’s body before the burial. “We didn’t see the body until it got back to Fort Lauderdale and he was cleaned up and dressed up for the funeral,” Martin said. Given what Kurtz said last night, Trayvon didn’t require much preparation.—washingtonpost

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Orlando's FOX News gives Judge Zimmerman a platform to lie for his son George Zimmerman— 29 March 2012—Apparently not being one to let facts get in the way of doing the bidding of the home office, Orlando's FOX News channel interviewed retired Virginia Supreme Court Magistrate Judge Robert Zimmerman and asked him to say what happened that night when his son, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman tracked down and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin.

The elder Zimmerman throws handfuls of red meat to the racist part of the audience which will ignore the video released yesterday (March 28) that shows an uninjured younger Zimmerman being taken into the police station without a scrape, without a bruise, with none of the swelling or cuts that would have certainly accompanied such a brutal beating as described by the Judge. By the way.  The FOX News team never quite gets around to mentioning that the elder Zimmerman is, in fact, a retired Virginia Supreme Court Magistrate Judge. His identity is protected by a screen as he presents his view of events.  He tells the compliant, nodding FOX News reporter that his son did not disobey the order not to follow the "suspect," but was just trying to find a street sign so he could report the address to the police.—examiner

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George Zimmerman’s crumbling story, part 1—Jonathan Capehart—29 March 2012—The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman—the case where nothing makes sense, nothing—gained greater clarity in the last couple days. The story put forth by the Sanford Police Department and by Zimmerman “friend” Joe Oliver is starting to crumble. Let’s go to the videotape. The leaked police report of Zimmerman’s account of what happened the early evening of Feb. 26 said that Trayvon punched the neighborhood watch volunteer in the face. Trayvon then “got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk,” Zimmerman told police. “Zimmerman then shot Trayvon once in the chest at very close range, according to authorities. When police arrived less than two minutes later, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose, had a swollen lip and had bloody lacerations to the back of his head.”

But a copy of the video of Zimmerman’s arrival at the police department aired by ABC News on Wednesday shows something different. Look how tidy Zimmerman looks. Where is the blood, either his or Trayvon’s? Where’s the swollen lip, the bloody lacerations to the back of his head? Where are the bandages? Where are the signs of struggle? For a man who shot and killed an unarmed teenager, who was described as screaming for help and fighting for his life, Zimmerman looks awfully presentable.—washingtonpost

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African-American Congressman Is Escorted From House Floor For Wearing A ‘Hoodie’—Mitchell S. Gilbert— 28 March 2012—This morning, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-ILL) sought to make an impassioned speech on the floor of the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Rush wanted to plea with America to stop profiling African-American men. Towards that end, Rush employed a bit of theatrics: he donned a hooded sweatshirt to make the point that our society needs to stop “assuming” that articles of clothing suggest anything nefarious about people: “Racial profiling has to stop,” Rush said. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.”

The presiding officer in the House, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), was having none of this. He continually interrupted Rush and ultimately asked the Sargent at Arms to escort Representative from the floor of the House: “The chair must remind members that clause 5 of rule 17 prohibits the wearing of hats in the chamber when the House is in session,” Harper said after Rush left. “The chair finds that the donning of a hood is not consistent with this rule. Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor.”

Was Rep. Rush showing disrespect for the policies and practices of the American congress, or, was he utilizing props to make a dramatic point? No doubt, the fact that Bobby Rush happens to be an elder black Democrat and Harper is a white Republican from Mississippi didn’t escape observers of this sad spectacle taking place in the “peoples house.”—addictinginfo

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The Case to Be Made Against George Zimmerman—Ta-Nehisi Coates—28 March 2012—What Zimmerman did was bullshit, and he should be held accountable. But under the events he allegedly described to the police, the prosecution is going to need some strong evidence that Zimmerman is lying, not about small details but about the essence of the fatal encounter, if they wish to charge him. That could come from forensic evidence or the 911 calls, but short of that, Zimmerman will be presumed innocent.

We are now hearing reports that the police originally wanted to charge Zimmerman, but was waived off. This account is really at odds with everything Bill Lee said, and with his demeanor throughout the investigation. Nevertheless, I think it's worth understanding how difficult it is going to be to prosecute Zimmerman. The point about reasonable use of force resting "in the mind of the accused" is really key.—

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Trayvon Martin case: Surveillance footage shows Zimmerman had no blood, bruises on himJoy-Ann Reid—28 March 2012—Surveillance video of George Zimmerman walking into the Sanford police department shows none of the injuries Zimmerman's supporters claim he suffered during his "life and death struggle" with Trayvon Martin. In the video, obtained by ABC News, Zimmerman is seen exiting a patrol car with two officers. He is handcuffed, with his hands behind his back, wearing a red sweater or jacket, his head shaved. A third officer emerges and the three officers walk Zimmerman into the station and through a hallway.

And while his back appears to be wet, as was stated in the initial police reports from the scene of the shooting February 26th, no blood or gashes are visible on the back of Zimmerman's head. Initial police reports said Zimmerman was treated at the scene of the shooting for bleeding on the back of his head and on or from his nose. His lawyer, Craig Sonner, has claimed Zimmerman suffered a gash on the back of his head that would have required stitches, though he says Zimmerman did not receive treatment until it had already begun to heal. And leaks to the Orlando Sentinel have suggested that Zimmerman's nose was broken.

Zimmerman supporter Joe Oliver, who worked with him at a mortgage security firm, has said Zimmerman told him Trayvon punched him in the face, breaking his nose, then when he fell to the ground, began bashing his head into the sidewalk, before Zimmerman shot him, Oliver says, in self-defense. The surveillance tape does not show Zimmerman with a visibly broken or even bloody nose. The tape could prove damaging to the narrative being put forward by the Sanford police department and Zimmerman supporters, since it shows an uninjured, and seemingly unperturbed, Zimmerman walking into the station with police.—thegrio

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Shows No Blood, Bruises On George Zimmerman After Killing—28 March 2012—Newly released video of George Zimmerman at the Sanford Police Department the night he shot Trayvon Martin to death show the neighborhood watch volunteer without blood on his clothing or bruises on his face or head. His clean-shaven picture seems to contrast with the violent beating he told police he endured at the hands of Martin, 17, who Zimmerman said attacked him from behind.

The video, obtained by ABC News, appears inconsistent with Zimmerman’s recently leaked statement to police that he was in a death struggle with Martin before Zimmerman shot him in the chest in self-defense. Zimmerman told investigators that Martin jumped him from behind, punched him in the nose and pounded his head into a sidewalk, according to a police report first described by the Orlando Sentinal. In the video, apparently taken by surveillance cameras outside and inside the police station, Zimmerman’s face and head are clearly visible and show no injuries consistent with the kind of fight Zimmerman's statement described. . . .

In the recently released police reports, Zimmerman told police he got out of his vehicle to follow Martin, but lost sight of him. As he walked back to his vehicle, Martin attacked him from behind, punched him in the nose, knocked him down and began smashing the back of his head into the sidewalk, police reports say Zimmerman told officers. During the tussle, Zimmerman pulled the 9 mm handgun he carried and shot Martin in the chest, he told police. . . .

The funeral director who handled Martin's funeral said there were no cuts or bruises on the teen's hands that would suggest a violent struggle or fight. “I didn’t see any evidence he had been fighting anybody,” Richard Kurtz of Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale, told television talk show host Nancy Grace. Police took Zimmerman into custody after they arrived. He was questioned and released later that night. He remains free as the Seminole County State Attorney's Office reviews the police investigation and decides whether to file charges. The U.S. Justice Department also is investigating.—huffingtonpost

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Lawrence O’Donnell And Charles Blow Give George Zimmerman Pal Joe Oliver Epic Grilling—Tommy Christopher—27 March 2012This interview, with host Lawrence O’Donnell (possibly still steaming from last night’s walkout by Zimmerman’s lawyer) and The New York Times‘ Charles Blow, is amazing on many levels, and covers many of the points I’ve raised about the misleading, nonsensical things Oliver has been saying, and challenging the closeness of his relationship with Zimmerman. By the second segment, when WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart tagged in, Oliver began to actually dispute the characterization of him as a “close friend,” and told all three that “My role in this just doesn’t make sense.”

Some highlights include Oliver’s weird evasion of O’Donnell’s questions about whether Oliver and Zimmerman were ever co-workers. By the end of the second segment, Oliver acknowledged that “we’re co-workers.” He also made several stunning admissions, including volunteering that “George may have been drinking” the night he was arrested in 2005, then quickly adding that he’s never, ever known Zimmerman to drink.

Aside from the blistering barrage of questions, there were a few unrelated, priceless moments, like when O’Donnell is quizzing Oliver about anger management counseling, and looks like he’s about to slug some guy at the bar. Then, toward the end of the first segment, some of the lights go out in Oliver’s studio, leaving him in a sinister half-light. That should have been a clue to Oliver that things were not going to get better.—mediaite

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Homicide detective Chris Serino says he wanted George Zimmerman slapped with manslaughter charges in shooting death of Trayvon Martin—Martin's parents speak to Congress, demand justice for their son—Alison Gendar and Bill Hutchinson—28 March 2012—The lead homicide detective probing the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin wanted the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer slapped with manslaughter charges from the get-go. Investigator Chris Serino, of the Sanford Police Department, expressed doubt in George Zimmerman’s account of how the shooting went down, ABC News reported Tuesday.

Serino wanted Zimmerman, 28, tossed behind bars, but the state Attorney’s Office said there was not enough evidence to make an arrest, multiple sources told ABC News. In an affidavit taken the night of the Feb. 26 killing, Serino stated he was unconvinced by Zimmerman’s version of events in which he claimed self-defense, the network reported. State Attorney Norman Wolfinger refused to comment.

The latest twist in the case prompting protests across the country came as Trayvon Martin’s parents went to Washington to demand justice for their son. “The reason we’re here is that it is now more than 30 days and there still is no arrest,” said the Martin family attorney Ben Crump, after the parents appeared at a forum conducted by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.—nydailynews

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The killing of Trayvon Martin: More questions—Jonathan Capehart—27 March 2012—Nothing makes sense in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Nothing. Last week, I posed 16 questions that should be answered. Today, I have more. Yesterday’s leaked report of George Zimmerman’s account from police of what happened on Feb. 26 only raises more questions for me. Again, they range from the mundane to the technical. We might not get answers to some of them. We might not like the answers we are given to some of them. And some of them might have simple explanations. But the questions must be asked.

It wasn’t until Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, called to file a missing-persons report on Feb. 27 that police went to his fiancee’s house with pictures of his son’s dead body. News reports have said that Trayvon’s body was tagged as a John Doe. But the “Partial Report Only” that was completed at 3:07 a.m. on Feb. 27 lists Trayvon’s full name, city of birth, address and phone number. How did police get that information? Was Trayvon carrying identification? Did police try to contact that home number?

Trayvon’s father called his cell phone several times. Why didn’t police answer Trayvon’s cell phone? Zimmerman reportedly had a bloody nose, lacerations on the back of his head and was given first aid by a Sanford Fire Department rescue unit. Where is their report of his injuries? Were any photographs taken of Zimmerman’s injuries? Did the officer who arrived on the scene and placed Zimmerman in handcuffs read him his Miranda rights?

That same officer who put Zimmerman in handcuffs reported, “While the SFD was attending to Zimmerman, I over heard him state ‘I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me.’ At no point did I question Zimmerman about the incident that had taken place.” Why not? Zimmerman was then taken to the Sanford Police Department and interviewed by an investigator. Was that interview recorded? Was there blood splatter from Trayvon on Zimmerman’s clothing? Were any tests done on Zimmerman’s clothing? DNA? Gunpowder? Were any photographs taken of Zimmerman’s clothing? Was the clothing taken into evidence.—washingtonpost

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Conservative Media Smears Trayvon Martin—Ben Adler—27 March 2012—Most of the conservative media have not only sided with Zimmerman but smeared the dead boy. On Fox News, Geraldo Rivera suggested that Martin had invited trouble by wearing a hooded sweatshirt, as millions of law-abiding young Americans, myself included, regularly do. He later appeared on the O’Reilly Factor to defend himself from charges that he was blaming the victim. Bill O’Reilly commiserated with Geraldo that he was being unfairly maligned, just as O’Reilly had been when he said that a young woman who goes out and gets drunk invites whatever misfortune may subsequently befall her, including murder.

Other conservatives have gone to shocking and disgusting lengths to impugn Martin. The Daily Caller—a lowbrow smear machine run by the overgrown preppie Tucker Carlson—published Martin’s Twitter feed. The DC doesn’t explain why Martin’s tweets are even remotely relevant, because they are not. But the implication, just like reports that Martin was suspended from school for possessing an empty bag with traces of marijuana, is that by being a normal teenager he was a bad person who deserved what happened to him.

Some of the worst actors of all in this affair have been the local police, working in concert with lazy or biased reporters. They have taken Zimmerman’s word as fact, notwithstanding his enormous incentive to lie and the fact that the other witness, Martin, is dead at Zimmerman’s hand and unable to respond. Consider this sensationalized, one-sided, irresponsible lead from the Orlando Sentinel on Monday: 

With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.

That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. It opens as if Martin beating up Zimmerman were established fact, when it is actually merely Zimmerman’s account. The police have repeatedly cited, and in this case leaked, Zimmerman’s side of the story as justification for their inaction. (Lawrence O’Donnell gave the Sentinel reporter an appropriate dressing down on MSNBC Monday night.) . . . .

The New York Post has been especially eager to cater to racist white sentiments, writing on their front page Tuesday that Martin’s death has been “hijacked” by “race hustlers.” They’re right about that, but wrong about identifying a group of black Democrats as the hustlers in question. The only race hustlers using Martin’s death to their political advantage are white Republicans such as Limbaugh and Gingrich.thenation

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton at Rally in New York City

George Zimmerman, Son of a Retired Judge, Has 3 Closed Arrests—Did George Zimmerman have help from his father, a retired judge, in clearing his name in three separate arrests?—27 March 2012That’s the question that’s being asked now that more information on Trayvon Martin’s 28-year-old killer is being revealed. Robert Zimmerman, a former Orange County magistrate judge, recently wrote a letter to The Orlando Sentinel defending his son, who’s been dragged through the mud for shooting the unarmed 17-year-old last month. In the letter, the senior Zimmerman asks people not to jump to conclusions and insists that his son didn’t follow the young boy home as he walked through their gated community.

“He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event became public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media,” wrote Robert Zimmerman.

Now more info is being dug up on his “victimized” son through public records and revealing his checkered past. According to a records search on George, he was previously arrested for domestic violence, resisting an officer without violence and most shockingly, resisting an officer with violence—a  felony charge that surely could have landed him in prison. All three of those arrests, however, were mysteriously closed with no semblance of charges for the Florida resident.—.v103

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Trayvon Martin Shooter Told Cops Teenager Went For His Gun—Matt  Gutman and Seni Tienabeso—26 March 2012—George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch crime captain who shot dead 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, originally told police in a written statement that Martin knocked him down with a punch to the nose, repeatedly slammed his head on the ground and tried to take his gun, a police source told ABC News. Zimmerman had claimed he had called police about Martin, whom he found suspicious, then went back to his car when Martin attacked him, punching him. The new information is the most complete version yet of what Zimmerman claims happened on the night of Feb. 26 when he shot and killed the teenager. In addition, an eyewitness, 13-year-old Austin Brown, told police he saw a man fitting Zimmerman's description lying on the grass moaning and crying for help just seconds before he heard the gunshot that killed Martin. The initial police report noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of the head and nose, and after medical attention it was decided that he was in good enough condition to travel in a police cruiser to the Sanford, Fla., police station for questioning. He was not arrested.

Martin's girlfriend had said in a recording obtained exclusively by ABC News that she heard Martin as Zimmerman "why are your following me, and then the man asked, what are you doing around here." She then heard a scuffle break out and the line went dead. . . . While in life Trayvon Martin was barely 17, when it comes to justifiable homicide his size—about 6-foot-3 and 150 pounds—makes him an adult in death. Zimmerman, 28, is 5-foot-9 and weighs well over 200 pounds.abcnews

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Trayvon Martin case: Shooter may have expected it to 'blow over'—Tina Susman—25 March 2012—On Sunday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson became the latest activist to come to central Florida to speak about the case. Jackson delivered a sermon at a Baptist church in Eatonville, about 20 miles from Sanford, where he urged people to ensure the case sparked a movement for social change.  "There is power in the blood of the innocent," Jackson told the packed church.—latimes

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Trayvon Martin Shooter 'Couldn't Stop Crying' After Shooting—25 March 2012—Florida's increasingly controversial "stand your ground" law was passed in 2005, eliminating the requirement that a person seek an alternative—like fleeing—before using force if they felt they were in physical danger. The National Rifle Association and other advocates had argued that citizens were being arrested for merely defending themselves.

Florida, like many other states, has long held that citizens have the right to defend themselves in their own homes. Court rulings have expanded that right to include employees in workplaces and drivers in their cars. But there was long a reluctance to extend those rights to public places, so judges had ruled that citizens under threat must make some alternative attempt to violence to escape danger. In 2005, the Florida House of Representatives voted 94-20 in favor of a new, "stand your ground" bill that eliminated the requirement to flee. The state Senate passed the bill 39-0, and Governor Jeb Bush signed it into law.—abcnews

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Meet the Obama Official Investigating the Trayvon Martin ShootingAdam Serwer—23 March 2012Tom Perez, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer, has investigated hate crimes and police abuses for years. Now he faces one of his biggest challenges yet.—On Tuesday, city officials from Sanford, Florida, trekked to Washington for a meeting on Capitol Hill with a group of black lawmakers and officials of the Justice Department's civil rights division. The topic at hand: The recently announced investigation of the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot in late February by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, while walking back to his father's house in a gated community from a local convenience store.

Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplet told the group he'd spent the last few days listening repeatedly to the recording of Zimmerman's 911 call, according to Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who was present at the meeting. After the shooting, Zimmerman told the police that Martin had attacked him and he had acted in self-defense. Apparently believing his version of events, the Sanford police did not arrest him. But the 911 tape suggested that Zimmerman had pursued Martin, even though he had been warned against doing so by the 911 dispatcher.

When Hastings suggested that Zimmerman might have uttered a racial slur on the call, Triplet pulled a copy of the recording out of a folder and passed it to the DOJ's assistant attorney general for civil rights, Thomas Perez. Sanford's city manager, Norton Bonaparte, implored Perez to probe the conduct of the Sanford police.

The inquiry being conducted by Perez's division and the FBI is focused on the actual shooting, in part to determine whether it was a hate crime. But as questions continue to emerge about the Sanford police department's handling of this and other racially-charged cases, civil rights leaders have urged the feds to broaden the inquiry to include a civil investigation into possible police wrongdoing. And this is an area Perez knows well. During his two-year tenure at the civil rights division, he has quietly led a federal crusade against police misconduct, pursuing 19 investigations of local police departments—the most in the division's history.—motherjones

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In Arlington, Jeb Bush says ‘stand your ground’ invalid in Trayvon Martin case—Gromer Jeffers, Jr.—23 March 2012—Arlington—Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Friday that the “stand your ground” self-defense law he signed while in office should not apply to the case of a teenager who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in his home state. “This law does not apply to this particular circumstance,” Bush said after an education panel discussion at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.” He was referring to last month’s incident in which 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was pursued by the volunteer and fatally shot in a scuffle. “Anytime an innocent life is taken it’s a tragedy,” Bush said. “You’ve got to let the process work.” Bush signed the law, pushed for by gun rights advocates, in 2005. It allows Florida residents to use deadly force rather than retreat if they feel threatened, even if they are not at home. Police and prosecutors cited the law in deciding not to charge George Zimmerman, the volunteer.

The Martin case has opened up questions about race and justice. The teenager was walking home from a convenience store Feb. 26, in Sanford, Fla., an Orlando suburb, when Zimmerman followed Martin, after calling police to say he looked suspicious. Zimmerman pulled his gun when the two got into a fight, and Martin was fatally shot. Martin had no weapon, carrying only a drink and a bag of candy. Zimmerman said that Martin attacked him as he tried to return to his truck. But supporters of the teen’s family say that would have been wildly out of character and that the case is typical of black youths being harassed and endangered for simply being in an area. The case has sparked protests and demands for a new investigation. The town’s police chief and a local prosecutor have stepped aside in hopes of defusing tension. Bush said Friday that he wondered why the investigation has taken so long to reach a conclusion. He said it took several weeks of outrage and media attention for local officials to step up their efforts.dallasnews

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Text of Obama Comments on Trayvon Martin Case—The Associated Press—23  March 2012—Well, I'm the head of the executive branch, and the attorney general reports to me, so I've got to be careful about my statements to make sure that we're not impairing any investigation that's taking place right now.

But obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together — federal, state and local — to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.

So I'm glad that not only is the Justice Department looking into it, I understand now that the governor of the state of Florida has formed a task force to investigate what's taking place. I think all of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.

But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.—NYTimes

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Obama: If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon—23 March 2012—Sanford, Florida (CNN) -- President Barack Obama spoke out publicly Friday for the first time on the growing controversy over the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Florida, saying that the incident requires national "soul-searching."

"When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids," Obama told reporters in response to a question. "And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together—federal, state and local—to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened."

Trayvon Martin, 17, died February 26. Police say he was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, who said he was acting in self-defense. Martin was unarmed, carrying a bag of Skittles candy and an iced tea, according to police.

Although a grand jury is scheduled to convene April 10 to look into the case, authorities have declined to arrest the volunteer, George Zimmerman, sparking a national debate over Florida's "stand your ground" deadly force law amid concerns about racial profiling. . . .  over Florida's "stand your ground" deadly force law amid concerns about racial profiling.. . .  "But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon," Obama said. "I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we will get to the bottom of exactly what happened," he said.—cnn

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George Zimmerman kicked out of Seminole State College—22 March 2012—George Zimmerman was kicked out of Seminole State College today, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. "Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment," according to a statement from the college. "This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman." Zimmerman, 28, first enrolled at the college in 2003 and was working toward a vocational certificate to become an insurance agent. He re-enrolled in 2009 and was working toward an Associate in Arts degree in a general studies program, according to the college.

Trayvon, a 17-year-old black teen visiting from Miami, was walking to a relative's house when he was spotted by Zimmerman on Feb. 26 in a gated community. Zimmerman reported the unarmed teen to police as a 'suspicious' person and pursued him. There was a confrontation and Zimmerman shot the boy. He told police he shot the teen in self-defense. . . . Zimmerman has since gone into hiding.—orlandosentinel

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Meet George Zimmerman: He Is the NRA—Daniel Gross—22 March 2012—The shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is a heartbreaking tragedy. But make no mistake, it is not a surprise that it happened in Florida, the NRA's closest thing to an armed utopia. In fact, much more so than any of the shills they had promoting their agenda in their big budget propaganda campaign, George Zimmerman is the embodiment of the gun lobby and its vision for America. George Zimmerman is the NRA.

And now the NRA has made it abundantly clear that their vision is of an America that looks just like Florida, a nation where it's easy for criminals and dangerous people to get, carry and use guns -- a nation without any gun laws, where just about anybody can get a gun and use it anywhere. Their spokespeople use fear, bordering on paranoia to justify flooding our streets with armed and violent people, and the result is more tragedies like Trayvon Martin's.

The NRA is literally working to promote "George Zimmermans" to carry and use their guns in virtually every state across our nation. Just days after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, the NRA was working on Capitol Hill to nationalize Florida's vigilante mentality. The gun lobby has gotten U.S. senators to introduce a bill that will force states like New York with strong gun laws to follow Florida's model of arming criminals and killers. Led by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), they call S.B. 2188, the National Reciprocity Act.

We call it the George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act. S.B. 2188, which is a companion to H.B. 822, would allow the tens of thousands of concealed carry permit holders, such as those with violent backgrounds similar to Zimmerman's, to take their guns and their "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality into Times Square, downtown Los Angeles, Main Street in Des Moines, Iowa, or to your community.

If your state has tougher, more sensible laws, that might prevent someone like George Zimmerman -- who had an arrest record—from getting a concealed carry permit, tough luck. This new bill would force your state to honor concealed carry permits of other states, even states like Florida, with abhorrently low standards. In fact, you can get a Florida permit to carry loaded, hidden guns in public through the mail or online. This means, if the NRA has its way in Congress, a George Zimmerman in your state can get a Florida permit without leaving his couch and walk your streets, armed and dangerous, and there is nothing you or your local law enforcement can do about it.

It is time that the American people stand up and flatly reject the gun lobby's vision of America. It is time we replace it with our own vision of a nation where young people can go out to buy a pack of Skittles and a soda in safety.—huffingtonpost

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On Alleged ‘F*cking C**ns’ Trayvon Martin 911 Call—Tommy Christopher—22 March 2012—The 911 call that has many people convinced that George Zimmerman grumbled the phrase “f**kin’ c**ns” moments before shooting and killing 17 year-old Trayvon Martin could loom large when it comes to determining whether the federal government can prosecute the case. CNN, who often takes guff from critics for their sometimes pointless use of whiz-bang technology, put their state-of-the-art tech to good use on Wednesday night’s AC360, isolating and enhancing the audio from that call. The result is, at the very least, more convincing than the raw audio. . . .

Although the cable news media didn’t cover Martin’s killing for several weeks after his death, once the coverage did begin, it ramped up quickly. After Current’s The Young Turks, who aired their first Trayvon Martin segment on their March 8 web show, CNN was one of the first networks to cover the Trayvon Martin story, beginning on March 13. MSNBC’s Rev. Al Sharpton also ran a segment, including an interview with Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, on the 13th. The following day, the Martin story became part of both networks’ news rotations. Fox News ran their first Trayvon Martin segment on March 19, following the release of the 911 tapes, according to the TV Eyes Transcription database.—mediaite

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For Trayvon and Emmett: My "Walking While Black" stories—21 March 2012— I’m not going to comment on the 911 calls, the police negligence or the firestorm that followed Trayvon Martin’s death. I’m just going to tell you why I’m not shocked that it happened or that the man who shot Trayvon Martin wasn’t arrested.  And why even knowing all that…hearing him screaming for help seconds before he was murdered made me cry bitter tears. And brought back the memory of another dead black boy, whose mother I knew and still admire for the electrifying and unforgettable lesson she taught us in his name. I’m just pouring out my soul here, so it’s gonna be kinda ugly.  But so is what happened to Trayvon. “Walking While Black” has been an issue since . . . slavery.   But if you’re black woman walking in certain places at certain times . . . there’s a little twist to that “offense.”  Here are my “walking while black” stories.

And every black woman I know has at least one or two just like them.   The sole difference between Trayvon’s story and ours is that we usually live to tell ours.   But sometimes . . . we’re too ashamed…

The Emmett Till connection—So, again, it was no surprise when I heard that a 17-year-old Black kid with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea was shot by a neighborhood vigilante who followed him around the gated community because he looked “suspicious.”  Or that the murderer hadn’t been arrested, despite his history of overstepping his appointed duties—he’d made dozens of similar 911 calls before deciding, this once, not to heed the dispatcher’s warning to stop following the “suspect” and leave it to the police. His mother has asked the media to stop playing that the 911 call with Trayvon’s terrified cries in the background. 

But  I believe she should follow the lead of my my 5th grade teacher, Mamie Till-Mobley,  who made an extraordinary and painful decision when she brought the battered, water-bloated body of her teenage son, Emmett Till, home to rest at last. She kept the casket open.   She wanted the world to see what had been done to her baby boy.  Because she knew that one look at that ravaged, misshapen “thing” in the casket would say more about the world in which such things could happen to a teenage boy than any sermon or speech. We need to hear those bone chilling screams and the shot that killed Trayvon seconds later. Yes, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare come true. But it might finally wake the whole world.—Keka’s Blog

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Florida police chief under fire in case of slain teen—21 March 2012—Orlando—Florida politicians and civil rights leaders joined calls for the firing of a police chief in the case of a neighborhood watch captain who killed an unarmed black teenager, as new details emerged on Wednesday about police handling of the investigation. "The reality is that people in this community have lost faith in the police chief's ability to keep their children safe," Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told Reuters.

Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, echoed the call in an appearance on CNN. "Not only would I like to see it happen, but I'm joining with them to make sure it happens," Wilson said. Speaking in the U.S. House of Representatives, Florida congresswoman Corrine Brown criticized the police investigation of the shooter, George Zimmerman, who remains free almost a month after gunning down 17-year-old Trayvon Martin outside a gated community in Sanford, near Orlando.

"No drug tests. No alcohol tests. No lie detector tests. It's just his word that he felt threatened, so therefore he shot to kill. That is unacceptable," said Brown, who is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Martin's killing has sparked widespread outrage since the release of 911 emergency tapes last week.

Late on Wednesday, city commissioners in Sanford passed a motion of "no confidence" in Police Chief Bill Lee Jr., who has said the department acted properly in not arresting Zimmerman after the shooting.The commission voted 3-2 in favor of the motion, according to Commissioner Patty Mahany. The commission, however, cannot fire Lee, who reports to Sanford's city manager. . . . But that appeared to be contradicted in a "Dear Citizens" statement posted Wednesday on the city's website by City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr.. The statement expressed the city's "heartfelt sympathies to the Martin family," and provided a series of answers by Lee about the case.

Sanford's City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr.

In his answers, Lee explained that when police arrived at the scene, Zimmerman "provided a statement claiming he acted in self-defense, which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony." The police report makes no mention of self-defense nor did it contain any description of Martin's injuries. It said police administered CPR and paramedics tried to revive him but Martin was pronounced dead 13 minutes after the first officer arrived.

Bonaparte said he stood by Lee and called the police investigation "complete and fair." Bonaparte later told CNN he would reserve judgment of the police chief's handling of the case until an independent law enforcement review was conducted. Lee previously told reporters he had no choice under Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law but to let Zimmerman go free. The 2005 law allows someone in fear of "great bodily harm" to respond with deadly deadly force, ending the duty to retreat if possible to avoid confrontation.—msnbc

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Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr., City Manager—Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr. has been the city manager of Sanford, Florida since September 2011. Prior to Sanford, Mr. Bonaparte served as the city manager of Topeka, Kansas, city administrator of Plainfield, New Jersey, the city business administrator of Camden, New Jersey, the township manager of Willingboro, New Jersey, and the city manager of Glenarden, Maryland. Mr. Bonaparte has taught graduate public management courses at Rutgers University and undergraduate courses in management at National-Louis University's School of Management and Business. He also served as a principal instructor for the University of Kansas' Emerging Leaders Academy. . . . Mr. Bonaparte holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Masters in Public Administration from Cornell University's Graduate School of Business.—SanfordFlorida

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Sanford, Florida, police answer questions about teen's shooting death21 March 2012When the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self-defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time. Additionally, when any police officer makes an arrest for any reason, the officer MUST swear and affirm that he/she is making the arrest in good faith and with probable cause. If the arrest is done maliciously and in bad faith, the officer and the city may be held liable.

According to Florida Statute 776.032:

776:032  Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.—In a letter on the city's website, City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte,Jr.


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20 Things You Need to Know About the Tragic Killing of Trayvon Martin—The Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney announced they were launching "a thorough and independent review" of the shooting—will there be justice?—20 March 20, 2012—On February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killedin Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old man. Zimmerman admits killing Martin, but claims he was acting in self-defense. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, passed in 2005, allows people to use deadly force if they believe they’re in imminent danger. Three weeks after Martin’s death, no arrests have been made and Zimmerman remains free

1. Zimmerman called the police to report Martin’s “suspicious” behavior, which he described as “just walking around looking about.” Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin walking on the street. He called the police and said: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs orsomething. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… These a**holes always get away” [Orlando Sentinel]

2. Zimmerman pursued Martin against the explicit instructions of the police dispatcher:

Dispatcher: “Are you following him?”
Zimmerman: “Yeah”
Dispatcher: “OK, we don’t need you to do that.” [Orlando Sentinel]

3. Prior to the release of the 911 tapes, Zimmerman’s father released a statement claiming “[a]t no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin.” [Sun Sentinel]

4. Zimmerman was carrying a a Kel Tel 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. [ABC News]

5. Martin weighed 140 pounds. Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds. [Orlando Sentinel; WDBO]

6. Martin’s English teacher described him as “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” [Orlando Sentinel]

7. Martin had no criminal record. [New York Times]

8. Zimmerman “was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer. The charges appear to have been dropped.” [Huffington Post]

9. Zimmerman called the police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011. [Miami Herald]

10. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” [Miami Herald]

11. Zimmerman “had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics” [Huffington Post]

12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.” [ABC News]

13. Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. “Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager’s killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy.” [Miami Herald]

14. The officer in charge of the crime scene also received criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man. [New York Times]

15. The police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes. Drug and alcohol testing is “standard procedure in most homicide investigations.” [ABC News]

16. In a cell phone call moments before his death, Martin told a teenage girl that he was “hounded by a strange man on a cellphone who ran after him, cornered him and confronted him.” “‘He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,’ Martin’s friend said. ‘I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run.’ Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he’d managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin. ‘Trayvon said, ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’” [ABC News]

17. Zimmerman told the police “he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when Trayvon attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck.” “He said he feared for his life and fired the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry because he feared for his life.” [Miami Herald]

18. Zimmerman was not a member of a registered Neighborhood Watch group. Zimmerman also violated basic Neighborhood Watch guidelines by carrying a weapon. [ABC News]

19. Sanford police chief Bill Lee planned to wrap up the case last Monday without bringing any charges, because, he said, “there is no evidence to dispute the shooter’s claim of self-defense,” which is a sufficient claim under the “Stand Your Ground” law. [Miami Herald]

20. In the first five years “Stand Your Ground” was in effect, justifiable homicides tripled, and the law was a factor in at least 93 cases involving 65 deaths. An investigation of cases from the law’s passage in 2005 to 2010 found that charges were dropped or dismissed for 57 people, and 7 others were acquitted. [Tampa Bay Times]

A petition created by Trayvon’s parents to investigate his killing has been signed by over 500,000 people.—alternet

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Parents of Trayvon Martin are calling on FBI to get involved with shooting investigation—19 March 2012—Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern said the department stands by its investigation but welcomes help from any outside agency. FBI agent David Couvertier said the agency has been in contact with Sanford police and is monitoring the case. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. and Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said Friday they supported federal involvement. . . . At an Orlando press conference, the parents of Trayvon Martin said they no longer trust the Sanford Police Department. Their 17-year-old son was fatally shot last month as he returned to a Sanford home during a visit from Miami.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton accused Sanford police of botching the investigation and criticized them for not arresting Zimmerman.

Martin was unarmed. They say the police department hasn't arrested Zimmerman because he is white and their son was black. According to Zimmerman's father, Zimmerman is Hispanic—cbsNews

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Trayvon Martin's Last Phone Call Triggers Demand for Arrest 'Right Now'—Matt Gutman and Seni Tienabeso—20 March 2012—A phone call from slain black teenager Trayvon Martin to his girlfriend seconds before he was shot dead by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain "blows ... out of the water" the shooter's self-defense claim and he should be arrested "right now," a lawyer for Martin's family said today.

Attorney Benjamin Crump spoke after ABC News reported exclusively the existence of a phone call between Martin and his girlfriend, which detailed the last terrifying moments of Martin's life as he was pursued, accosted and shot dead by George Zimmerman. Police accepted Zimmerman's claim of self-defense and have charged him with no crime. "This young lady connects the dots," said Crump. "Arrest George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin in cold blood, today. . . .

ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Crump about the last moments of the teenager's life. Martin had been talking to his girlfriend all the way to the store where he bought Skittles and a tea. The phone was in his pocket and the earphone in his ear, Crump said. "He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run."

Eventually, he would run, said the girl, thinking that he'd managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin. "Trayvon said, 'What are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn't answer the phone." The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said.

Trayvon's phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on the scene. Crump said the girl's identity was being withheld because "her parents are gravely concerned about her health and her safety." Her parents asked that only an attorney be allowed to ask her questions. Martin's father, Tracey Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, listened to the call, along with ABC News, ashen-faced.

"He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him," Tracey Martin said. "And that's the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy, and the guy backtracked for him." The girl was so distraught after the killing that she spent a night in the hospital, the lawyer said.—abcnews

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FBI, Justice Department to Investigate Killing of Trayvon Martin by Neighborhood WatchmanMatt Gutman—19 March 2012—The FBI, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida will investigate the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student, who was shot by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman. . . . George Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense in shooting Martin, has not been charged with any crime in the fatal shooting of the teenager on Feb. 26. 

Outrage over the incident has only grown, as irregularities in the police investigation have been uncovered and 911 tapes released last week showed Zimmerman ignored a dispatcher's directive not to pursue the teen. Zimmerman also blatantly violated major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual, ABC News has learned.  The manual, from the National Neighborhood Watch Program, states: "It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers, and they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles. They should also be cautioned to alert police or deputies when encountering strange activity. Members should never confront suspicious persons who could be armed and dangerous." . . .

Zimmerman wasn't arrested at the time, and ABC News has learned he was not given a drug or alcohol test that night—standard in most homicide investigations. Law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler, who listened to the tapes, told ABC News that Zimmerman, not Martin, sounded intoxicated in the police recordings of the 911 calls. "When I listened to the 911 tape, the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated. Notice how he's slurring his words. We as trained law enforcement officers, we know how to listen for that right away, and I think that's going to be an important element of this entire investigation," Wheeler said.

According to Chris Tutko, the director of the National Neighborhood Watch Program, there are about 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide, and Zimmerman was not part of a registered group—another fact the police were not aware of at the time of the incident.—abcnews

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Feds open Trayvon Martin investigation—FBI, Dept. of Justice looking into case—19 March 2012—ORLANDO, Florida—In a statement, the DOJ said along with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida and the FBI, they are looking into "the facts and circumstances of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin."

The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation," the statement continued. "The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids – the highest level of intent in criminal law. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws. The Community Relations Service will be in Sanford, Fla., this week to meet with civil rights leaders, community leaders, and local law enforcement to address tension in the community.

Also Monday, Gov. Rick Scott requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement assist the State Attorney's office in its investigation after the case "caused significant concern within the Sanford community and the state."—clickorlando


College Students Rally at FAMU to Demand Arrest of Man Who Shot Black Teen—Join Students Around Florida in Protest—19 March 2012—ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — College students around Florida rallied Monday to demand the arrest of a neighborhood watch captain who shot an unarmed Black teen last month, though authorities may be hamstrung by a state law that allows people to defend themselves with deadly force.

Police have described the man who fired the shot, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, as White; his family says he is Hispanic and is not racist. Zimmerman claims he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month in self-defense during a confrontation in a gated community in Sanford. Students held rallies on the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and outside the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, where prosecutors are reviewing the case to determine if charges should be filed. The students demanded Zimmerman's arrest.

Zimmerman spotted Martin as he was patrolling his neighborhood on a rainy evening last month and called 911 to report a suspicious person. Against the advice of the 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman then followed Martin, who was walking home from a convenience store with a bag of Skittles in his pocket. "I don't think a man who exited his vehicle after the 911 dispatcher told him to stay inside the car can claim self-defense," Carl McPhail, a 28-year-old Barry University law school student, said at the Sanford rally. The 70 protesters at the Sanford rally chanted "What if it was your son?" and held posters saying, "This is not a race issue." Many carried Skittles. Martin's parents and other advocates have said the shooter would have been arrested had he been Black.afro

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Under ‘suspicion’: The killing of Trayvon Martin—Jonathan Capehart—18 March 2012—What we know is that the 17-year-old, visiting relatives in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., was on his way back to their house from 7-Eleven with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles. That’s when he caught the eye of George Zimmerman, a crime watch volunteer who called 911. Listening to that call made my blood run cold.

“Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy,” Zimmerman tells police before giving the address of where he is. “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.”

“These [expletive], they always get away,” Zimmerman says before getting out of his car to pursue Trayvon.“Are you following him?” the police ask. “Yes,” Zimmerman says. The officer on the phone tells him, “We don’t need you to do that.” But he did. In another 911 call, you can hear screaming for help and the fatal gunshot. Zimmerman brought a 9 mm handgun to the altercation. A scuffle ensued. Trayvon was fatally shot in the chest. His mother told the Associated Press yesterday, “(Zimmerman) was chasing him, he was following him, and my son was afraid. He didn’t know who this stranger was.”

You’ve heard me talk about the conversation my mom had with me before my first day at a predominantly white school. Reading about Trayvon reminded me of the list of the “don’ts” I received after my sheltered existence in Hazlet, N.J., was replaced with the reality of Newark when my mother remarried in the 1980s.

“Don’t run in public.” Lest someone think you’re suspicious.

“Don’t run while carrying anything in your hands.” Lest someone think you stole something.

“Don’t talk back to the police.” Lest you give them a reason to take you to jail or worse

There was also being mindful that you are being watched in stores. Watched turned to followed as I got older. To this day, if a sales person is overly attentive to what I might be looking for I leave the store. Never to return. And then there was keeping a distance of deniability from white women when walking on the street. Lest you be accused of any number of offenses, from trying to snatch her purse to sexual assault.

In the early 1990s, I saw a T-shirt for sale on Canal Street in New York that neatly and bluntly summed up my frustration with this situation: “No white lady I don't want your purse.” . . .

Why did Zimmerman find Trayvon suspicious? Why did he pursue the boy when the 911 operator instructed him not to? Why did he get out of the car, and why did he take his gun when he did? How is it self-defense when you are the one in pursuit? Who initiated the altercation? Who cried for help? Did Trayvon’s body show evidence of a struggle? What moved Zimmerman to use lethal force?

Lord knows when we’ll get those answers. Zimmerman is not only not in custody but, according to his father, the police advised him not to talk publicly. Trayvon, his grieving parents and shocked people everywhere deserve better than this.washingtonpost

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Trayvon Martin: Killed for walking while black

Dear friends,

Three weeks ago, 17-year old Trayvon Martin was gunned down by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. <b>Despite Zimmerman admitting to following, confronting, and killing Trayvon, he has yet to be arrested or charged with any crime (MiamiHerald).

Just minutes before Trayvon was killed, Zimmerman had called police stating that Trayvon looked "suspicious." Trayvon was unarmed and walking back to his father's home in Sanford, Florida when Zimmerman accosted him.

At the crime scene, Sanford police botched their questioning of Zimmerman, refused to take the full statements of witnesses, and pressured neighbors to side with the shooter's claim of self-defense (abcnews). As it turns out, Sanford's police department has a history of failing to hold perpetrators accountable for violent acts against Black victims and the police misconduct in Trayvon's case exemplifies the department's systemic mishandling of such investigations (huffingtonpost) And now, the State Attorney's office has rubber-stamped the Sanford police's non-investigation, claiming that there is not enough evidence to support even a manslaughter conviction (wesh).

Trayvon's family and hundreds of thousands of people around the country are demanding justice (abcnews). Please join us in calling on the Department of Justice to take over the case, arrest Trayvon's killer, and launch an independent investigation into the Sanford police department's unwillingness to protect Trayvon's civil rights. Click ColorofChange

Walking home from the store shouldn't cost you your life, but when Black youth are routinely assumed to be violent criminals, being randomly killed is a constant danger (democracynow). Before Zimmerman decided to get out of his parked car—gun in tow—to pursue Trayvon on foot that night, he called the police to identify Trayvon as a "suspicious person" — apparently because he was wearing a hoodie and walking too slowly in the rain for Zimmerman's liking. Despite being instructed not to follow Trayvon, Zimmerman proceeded to confront and fatally shoot the boy in the chest within a matter of minutes (orlandosentinel).

The case has been compromised from the beginning. When Sanford police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman was first approached by a narcotics detective—not a homicide investigator—who "peppered him with questions" rather than allowing him to tell his story without prompting. Another officer "corrected" a witness giving a statement that she'd heard Trayvon cry for help before he was shot, telling her she had heard Zimmerman instead (abcnews). And beyond the questions of professional competence or even the police's disregard for the facts, Florida's notorious "Shoot First" law takes a shooter's self-defense claim at face value—incentivizing law enforcement not to make arrests in shooting deaths that would lead to murder charges in other states (tallahassee).

Sanford has a history of not prosecuting when the victim is Black. In 2010, the white son of a Sanford police lieutenant was let go by police after assaulting a homeless Black man outside a downtown bar. And, in 2005, a Black teenager was killed by two white security guards, one the son of a Sanford Police officer. The pair was arrested and charged, but a judge later cited lack of evidence and dismissed both cases (tampabay).

Please join us in calling on the Department of Justice to arrest Trayvon's killer and launch an investigation into the Sanford police department's mishandling of the case and when you do, ask your friends and family to do the same: Click ColorofChange

Source: ColorofChange

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Trayvon Martin shooting: Screams, shots heard on 911 call16 March 2012|—Rene Stutzman and Bianca Prieto—Two shots and screaming can be heard in dramatic 911 calls released late Friday from the shooting of Trayvon Martin.In one call, placed by the shooter George Zimmerman, he actively pursues the teen before the deadly shooting.

"Are you following him," an emergency dispatcher asks after Zimmerman describes Trayvon as a black male who was acting suspiciously. Zimmerman responds: "Yeah."

"OK, you don't need to do that," the dispatcher says. The recordings were released after Trayvon's family spent two hours with city officials, listening to the calls that documented the 17-year-old's last moments alive. "What you hear on that tape is shocking. It's riveting," Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon's family, said after the group emerged from their meeting with officials late Friday.

Police had previously refused to release the calls. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood crime watch volunteer, has not been arrested and is not charged with a crime. He claimed the Feb. 26 shooting was in self defense. In one of the eight calls, screaming can be heard in the background as a woman tries to get help. That call is punctuated by two gunshots.

"You hear a shot, a clear shot, then you hear a 17-year-old boy begging for his life," said Natalie Jackson, another family attorney. "Then you hear a second shot."

It was the first time that anyone said two shots were fired that night. . . . At the family's press conference Friday, Mary Cutcher, who lives in a townhome near where Trayvon was shot, described what she heard the night of the shooting. She said she heard what sounded like a child crying and then a gunshot. When Cutcher went outside, she said she saw Zimmerman crouched over the boy's body. Trayvon, who was shot once in the chest, was face down, Cutcher said.

"I thought it was common sense that [Zimmerman] would be arrested," Cutcher said. "This was not self-defense." On Thursday the police department said witness Mary Cutcher's statement during a TV interview was "inconsistent" with what she told investigators.—orlandosentinel


The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin—Charles M. Blow—16 March 2012—“He said that Tray was gone.” That’s how Sybrina Fulton, her voice full of ache, told me she found out that her 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin, had died. In a wrenching telephone call, the boy’s father, who had taken him to visit a friend, told her that Trayvon had been gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford, Fla., outside Orlando.“He said, ‘Somebody shot Trayvon and killed him.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Fulton continued in disbelief. “I said ‘How do you know that’s Trayvon?’ And he said because they showed him a picture.”

That was Feb. 27, one day after Trayvon was shot. The father thought that he was missing, according to the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, but the boy’s body had actually been taken to the medical examiner’s office and listed as a John Doe. The father called the Missing Persons Unit. No luck. Then he called 911. The police asked the father to describe the boy, after which they sent officers to the house where the father was staying. There they showed him a picture of the boy with blood coming out of his mouth.

This is a nightmare scenario for any parent, and the events leading to Trayvon’s death offer little comfort — and pose many questions. . . . Zimmerman has not released a statement, but his father delivered a one-page letter to The Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. According to the newspaper, the statement said that Zimmerman is “Hispanic and grew up in a multiracial family.” The paper quotes the letter as reading, “He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever” and continues, “The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.” And disclosures made since the shooting complicate people’s perception of fairness in the case.

According to Crump, the father was told that one of the reasons Zimmerman wasn’t arrested was because he had a “squeaky clean” record. It wasn’t. According to the local news station WFTV, Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for “battery on a law enforcement officer.” Furthermore, ABC News reported on Tuesday that one of the responding officers “corrected a witness after she told him that she heard the teen cry for help.” And The Miami Herald published an article on Thursday that said three witnesses had heard the “desperate wail of a child, a gunshot, and then silence.”

WFTV also reported this week that the officer in charge of the scene when Trayvon was shot was also in charge of another controversial case. In 2010, a lieutenant’s son was videotaped attacking a black homeless man. The officer’s son also was not initially arrested in that case. . . . One of the witnesses was a 13-year-old black boy who recorded a video for The Orlando Sentinel recounting what he saw. The boy is wearing a striped polo shirt, holding a microphone, speaking low and deliberately and has the heavy look of worry and sadness in his eyes. He describes hearing screaming, seeing someone on the ground and hearing gunshots.

The video ends with the boy saying, “I just think that sometimes people get stereotyped, and I fit into the stereotype as the person who got shot.” And that is the burden of black boys, and this case can either ease or exacerbate it.nytimes

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'Stand Your Ground' law: What's legal?—17 March 2012—Henry Pierson Curtis—At the center of the controversy surrounding the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is a Florida law that changed America's definition of self-defense.The "Stand Your Ground" law, which enables people who perceive a threat to use deadly force without first trying to retreat from a confrontation, was a landmark when it passed in 2005. Since then, 16 more states have adopted similar laws, which are far more lenient than the widely adopted "Castle Doctrine," which allows people to defend themselves in their homes. George Zimmerman, the community-watch leader who shot Trayvon during an altercation in a gated Sanford community last month, told police he was acting in self-defense. They have not pressed charges.—orlandosentinel

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The 2011 Florida Statutes—3)A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.—Statute&Search

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Trayvon Martin 17 was shot dead by Neighbourhood Watch—leader in primarily white, gated neighbourhood—10 March 2012—The family of a teenager who was shot and killed by Neighbourhood Watch leader filed a public lawsuit on Thursday, and are suing police to get access to the 911, which they think could give clues to the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. They are outraged that the details of the 911 call made after George Zimmerman, 26, called police have not been made available to them.

Police say the 911 recording is evidence in an on-going investigation. Martin's father, Tracy, said that family members were upset that no arrest had been made.  He described the neighbourhood as mixed race but his attorneys said they believed Trayvon was being profiled at the time of the encounter because he was a young black man; Zimmerman is white. The attorneys also questioned why a neighbourhood watch leader would carry a gun. 'He was stereotyped for some reason,' the Martins’ attorney Ben Crump said of the victim. 'Why was Trayvon suspicious? There are hundreds of children in that community.’

Mr Crump also called Zimmerman a ‘loose cannon’ and pointed out that Zimmerman was arrested in Orange County in 2005 for resisting arrest and battery of a police officer. 'He had a gun, and Trayvon had Skittles,' Mr Krump said. 'We want justice.'dailymail

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Statement of Robert Zimmerman, father of Neighborhood Watch volunteer15 March 2012—The tragic events of February 26 are very sad for all concerned. The Martin family, our family, and the entire community have been forever changed. The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting are false and extremely misleading. Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas.

George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. One black neighbor recently interviewed said she knew everything in the media was untrue and that she would trust George with her life. Another black neighbor said that George was the only one, black or white, who came and welcomed her to the community, offering any assistance he could provide. Recently, I met two black children George invited to a social event. I asked where they met George. They responded that he was their mentor. They said George visited them routinely, took them places, helped them, and taught them things and that they really loved George. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.

The events of February 26 reported in the media are also totally inaccurate. Out of respect for the on-going investigation, I will not discuss specifics. However, the media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media.

Our entire family is deeply sorry for the loss of Trayvon. We pray for the Martin family daily. We also pray that the community will grieve together and not be divided by more unwarranted hate. The Zimmerman family will have no further contact with the media prior to the resolution of the investigation. It would be greatly appreciated if the media would respect our privacy.—

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game 


Did you all know that in Sanford, Florida, the police tested Trayvon Martin's dead body for drugs & alcohol, but did not test Zimmerman, his killer, for drugs and alcohol even though the police admitted that Zimmerman sounded like he was drunk? What sort of justice system tests a black kid that was killed by a so-called white neighborhood watchman, but does not test his killer? This is America that we still believe in, guys, America, the great, guys, America, not some crazy country somewhere! . . . Not only will justice for an unnecessary killing of an innocent child be at the heart of this case, but this Florida law that has caused a rise in so-called defensive homicides over the years in Florida will finally be tested.—Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

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Flashback 2000: Anderson, South Carolina. My daughters and I were accosted by the police for 30 minutes in Books-a- Million. We were accused of shoplifting. Irony: I was in town running a cultural enrichment program, poetry workshops. No apology until outraged citizens of Asheville wrote letters for an apology. The City Managers response to me when I asked for an apology, "You better be glad we didn't throw you in jail." My mama just said, "Gurl you know better than spending a night in Anderson. Come home.”—Glenis Redmond

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Zimmerman's 911 calmly says Tayvon is approaching w/sumthin in his hand. Then he says Tayvon is running away. Sounds like he's setting Tayvon up.— Kwame Zulu Shabazz

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This whole thing upsets me so deeply while it is all truly unbelievable. There should be riots over this if there is still any cranny of justice anywhere.—Carrie

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Is this 1962 or 2012? The fact that the Justice Department has to step in and investigate a vigilante killing of a black teenager—because the local authorities refuse to arrest the killer—is more than a little reminiscent of an era we supposedly left behind. People have been asking me "what can I do besides sign online petitions?" There's a whole lot people can do. We've got to get serious about consciousness-raising and organizing in our communities. We've got to move beyond these bursts of outrage in response to travesties of justice (think Troy Davis, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, and Trayvon Martin) and awaken to the reality that Jim Crow justice is alive and well. These aren't isolated, disconnected events. Use this tragedy to start a broader conversation in your school, your place of worship, your workplace, or your community center, about what is necessary to end this new Jim Crow system—a system that our nation keeps pretending doesn't really exist. Honor Trayvon's memory by challenging yourself to do more—to make a real commitment to join or begin a movement for justice right where you are, wherever you are. Outrage is not enough.—Michelle Alexander

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BREAKING NEWS: Attorney Benjamin Crump has just revealed that Trayvon Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend while Zimmerman followed him for several minutes. She told him to run home, which he tried to do, initially. At one point, he thought he had lost him...but Zimmerman re-appeared. She told him to run again, but this time he told her that he wasn't going to run. She heard the initial ap...proach of Zimmerman, when he asked Trayvon what he was doing around there. She reportedly heard Trayvon gasp, like he was pushed. That call ended at 7:12 pm. The police arrive 4-5 minutes later at 16-17 minutes past seven o'clock. Of course, by that time, Zimmerman had snuffed out Trayvon's life with a 9mm glock. The phone records bear this out. Yet Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged, over 3 weeks later.—Pamela D Reed

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We are mothers who are tired of seeing our children shot in cold blood. We are sisters, aunts and cousins who want justice for the murder of yet another young black male whose only crime was the color of his skin. We are outraged that the s...hooter is still walking free and has not been charged with a crime. It is unconscionable that young black boys and men are the victims of racial profiling. This must stop. We must demand that the Justice Department conduct a thorough investigation of this crime. No more mothers and fathers should have to bury their boys because they were "murdered while black.—Women for Trayvon Martin  

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Trayvon Martin was killed because he looked suspicious by words of George Zimmerman. Oscar Grant was killed because he and his friends looked suspicious by words of Tony Pironi. Trayvon was killed because he was wearing a hoodie. Oscar was killed because he and his friends was wearing hoodies and Black t-shirts. Trayvon was on phone talking to his girl friend when Zimmerman began to attack him.

Oscar was on the phone talking to his girl friend when Tony Pironi began to attack him. Sanford police chief Lee said, "No arrest was made, Lee said, because there was no evidence to disprove Zimmerman’s account." Oakland Bart police chief Gee said, "be patience, the evidence is inclusive". Both Chiefs make the same statements. What is happening here? Every police shooting, regardless of what happen, the police chiefs seem to say the exact statements.

Chief Lee of Sanford police need to be a target for resignation or firing, just like chief Gee. What other similarities have you noticed? One visual, one audio, of course, Oscar take picture of murder, Trayvon scream of the murder.—Cephus Johnson

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The Baltimore SCLC and All Peoples' Congress Justice for Trayvon MartinEnd Racist Policing and Racial Profiling and Intolerance!The Baltimore Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the All Peoples Congress are holding a March, Speak Out and Vigil on Monday, March 26th, 2012 at 5:30 pm. The March will begin at McKeldin Square, Pratt & Light Streets (in downtown Baltimore). Demonstrators are asked to gathering at 5 P.M. At 5:30 P.M. the SCLC will lead marchers to the Baltimore Police Headquarters on Fayette Street.

Victims of police brutality from the Baltimore-Washington area, and activists working Shomrim case where a 15 year-old student was attacked in Northwest Baltimore will be publicly speaking around 6 P.M. The final leg of the action is a march to the Baltimore City Hall located 100 Holiday St where a vigil and rally will be conducted from 7 P.M. to 8 P.M. We encourage all groups and nationalities to come and stand against indifferent policing, police brutality, and racial intolerance. March participants are encouraged to wear hoods in solidarity with Trayvon Martin to take a stand against racial profiling. Monday the 26th will mark the one-month anniversary of Trayvon's murder.

For more info. call 410-218-4835 or 410-500-2168; or in Washington, D.C. call the Baltimore SCLC Coordinator in Washington, D.C. Dr. W. Randy Short

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So, what are the Demands in the Trayvon Martin case? Thought I'd post a few.

1) Repeal of the "Stand Your Ground" laws across the South. It's nothing more than a "Lynching Law" and that's what we ought to be calling it.
2) Immediate indictment of George Zimmerman on a Murder 1 charge and, oversight of the voir dire process so that there's no discrimination in seating a jury.
3) Immediate indictment of Zimmerman on violation of Trayvon Martin's civil rights.
4) The firing of Sanford Police Chief Bill and his homicide department.
5) Investigation into the practices (i.e. profiling, arrest records, disposition records) of the Sanford Police Department with a possible civil rights violation charges being "on the table."
6) Firing of Sanford City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr.—
Kevin Gray

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Let us deal with reality of the Jim Crow that never died in America. Let us deal with the Jim Crow that has transformed itself into a well oiled Judicial machine and changed from white sheets to law enforcement uniforms. It still exists in our publics schools such as the Middle School in Rochester, New York that harassed a little 12 year old black girl for writing a powerful essay on Frederick Douglass and comparing the poor education she was getting to that of slavery! Tell what has really changed is America with Jim Crow culture. Jim Crow white and colored signs may have disappeared but the Jim Crow principles and tactics are alive in well in America's public education system, law enforcement and judicial system! Is this the Change "we all" can believe in? Ask the souls of Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, the young Frederick Jackson hung in Jackson, Miss and Troy Davis if they believe America has changed from Jim Crow to a Nation of hope and change? Peace—Ra Khush Ahkem

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The biggest tragedy besides the profiling, stalking, hunting and cold- blooded execution (and subsequent police and district attorney cover-up) of Trayvon Martin was the right-wing and mainstream media turning him into a modern-day Bigger Thomas when all he ever was was a gentle, baby-faced brown boy. He was somebody's son, brother, nephew, cousin, student, classmate, friend who wanted to grow up to live his life and fulfill his dreams beyond the mere sixteen years and eleven and a half months he was given. But George Zimmerman slaughtered him in the street for no reason and he gets to roam around armed and dangerous and free.—Tony Medina

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I'm still grieving and worried that if you do not join in this fight to prevail on the Sanford Police Dept. to let justice prevail in the gunning down of Trayvon Martin, a grave injustice against our sons will go unchecked. It is about standing up for truth & justice, about having done unto others as you would have done unto you. Do not stand by or ignore us who are grieving for this grave murder of our sons in America. Silence is a language, my friend; silence is louder than words. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

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Trayvon Martin: One of 17 children shot very publicly this month—21 March 2012—Elizabeth Flock—A child dies every four seconds, according to UNICEF. . . . Some of their deaths are mourned publicly; many go without attracting any notice at all. But in three cities across the globe over the past month, 17 children have died in shootings that have shocked the world. In Toulouse, France, three Jewish children were killed outside their school. In Sanford, Fla., an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman. And in Kandahar province in Afghanistan, a U.S. soldier allegedly went on a shooting spree that killed 13 Afghan children.—washingtonpost

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Thousands march to demand arrest of Trayvon Martin killer—Andre Damon and C.W. Rogers—Sanford, Florida—27 March 2012—Frederick Preston, a documentary filmmaker from Jacksonville, was selling t-shirts at the rally. “It’s not a black or white thing, even though as black people we face injustice all the time.

“This country is filled with so much inequality and injustice. Take just education as an example—there’s inequality in schools, inequality in text books, inequality in teachers, in buildings. In my opinion it isn’t that most kids are dropping out of school; they’re being forced out of school by these conditions.

“All of the politicians are making statements about this because it’s an election year. But this kind of thing happens all the time. Trayvon isn’t the only one. He’s not even the only one in the month of February. Come next Monday morning, when the crowds go away and the yelling and cheering stops, it’s going to be back to business as usual. Right now they all are just after votes. Obama is no different. He makes a statement now, but what’s really going to change? Come Monday it’s going to be business as usual.

“I have two sons and I can so easily see myself being in the position of Trayvon’s parents,” he added. “I’m just so sick of young people being considered guilty just because of their clothes or the color of their skin. I think for everyone this incident is just a matter of ‘enough is enough.’ It’s a combination of everything—gas prices, housing prices, foreclosures, no jobs—and now on top of all that, you can just shoot us. And what makes this so frightening is that this wasn’t even the police but an ordinary citizen. I just keep thinking how easily this could happen to me.”—wsws

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Lawrence O’Donnell  and Charles Blow Give Joe Oliver Epic Grilling

Don’t trust Joe Oliver’s ‘gut feeling’ about his ‘friend’ George ZimmermanJonathan Capehart28 March 2012Since last weekend, Joe Oliver has been making the rounds of television shows as a “close friend” of George Zimmerman. A man who knew the man who shot an unarmed Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. A man who could vouch for Zimmerman’s personal growth and character. A man who knew the gunman so well that he was certain that the voice screaming for help on one of the 911 calls was that of Zimmerman’s. But all that was blown out of the water last night. During an interview on MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” host Lawrence O’Donnell, Charles Blow of the New York Times and I each took turns questioning the self-appointed defender of Zimmerman.

After an intense grilling for about 30 minutes, Oliver revealed himself to be nothing more than an acquaintance and raised questions about why he inserted himself into this national maelstrom to begin with. Throughout the two-part interview, Oliver tried to have it both ways. He’s known Zimmerman for six years, he said, “since he started dating his wife.”

There’s even a family connection, and the two men have worked together at the same company. Oliver claims Zimmerman has grown from his past experiences into a “caring person.” “The George Zimmerman I know,” Oliver told O’Donnell, “is not the George Zimmerman who I’ve known since 2005.”

He would say later about the protests that the killing of Trayvon Martin has sparked, “If I didn’t know George Zimmerman, I’d be outraged myself.” And, yet, Oliver doesn’t know him.washingtonpost


Justice, Not Drama, for Trayvon Martin (Margaret Kimberley) / Evidence Of A Police Cover-Up (Lawrence O"Donnell)

Lawrence O'Donnell Interviews Norton Bonaparte, Jr. / Trayvon's Persons at New York Rally

Three men plead guilty to federal hate crimes in Mississippi killing 

Jonathan Turley explains the danger of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law

Obama Speaks On Trayvon Martin  / Castle Doctrine: Bo Morrison Murdered (Ed Show)  / Turner Clayton, Jr. NAACP

Dick Gregory on the killing of Trayvon Martin  / "A Song for Trayvon" by Jasiri X / When in Doubt, Smear the Dead Kid

Lawrence O’Donnell and Charles Blow Interview Joe Oliver  / Maher: No doubt Zimmerman is a ‘big fat f**king liar’

T.D. Jakes’ Emotional Message on Trayvon Martin Killing /


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Van Jones on Trayvon Martin, Racial Violence and Why Obama Ignored Race Issues for Two Years (3 April 2012)Too many of us treated Obama’s inauguration as some kind of finish line, when we should have seen it as just the starting line. Too many of us sat down at the very moment when we should have stood up. . . . I think this is an important moment in the history of the country, in that we went into this bizarre reverse reality where the only people who were racist were the people who were fighting racism. If you’re an African American and you say something about racism, you’re the racist. And so, and you had the moral voice and the moral witness of the black community fall silent for two, almost three, years. It was very hard, with a black president, to speak about issues of race. I think this case ends that silence and inaugurates a new period. Certainly we are a much better country than we were 10 years ago, 100 years ago, but we are nowhere near where we should be. And Trayvon’s death, I hope, and the President’s willingness to speak about it forthrightly opens the door for the kind of grown folks’ conversation we thought he was going to be able to lead when he was a candidate—well, that he did lead when he was a candidate, that hopefully we can see now going forward.

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Cristian Fernandez is a juvenile and should be treated as such in the criminal justice system. A gag order was placed on his case, preventing the public from accessing information pertaining to his circumstances and the events surrounding his brother's death. That order needs to be lifted and the decision to try Cristian as an adult, subjecting him to a sentence of life in an adult prison, needs to be reversed. 

On February 27, 13-year-old Cristian Fernandez  appeared in a Jacksonville, Florida courtroom without wearing the metal shackles on his hands and legs that have been placed on him for the last year. The shackling took place despite Florida's Supreme Court banning the indiscriminate shackling children in 2009 - a practice the court called "repugnant, degrading [and] humiliating." Over 2,300 people joined the campaign calling on Cristian's shackles to be removed.

Most of these people were Florida citizens appalled to learn how their state had been treating Fernandez. Nearly 200,000 people have signed a second petition calling for Cristian's case to be moved back to the juvenile court.change

Angela Corey Who Holds Record for Trying “Juveniles as Adults” Heads Trayvon Martin Investigation

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
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#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination. Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. —Publishers Weekly /  Derrick Bell   Dies at 80

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. —Publishers Weekly

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Panther Baby

A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

By Jamal Joseph

In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today he’s chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Joseph’s personal odyssey—from the streets of Harlem to Riker’s Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbia—is as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronx’s black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Island—charged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddie—now called Jamal—became the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers’ New York chapter.

He joined the “revolutionary underground,” later landing back in prison. Sentenced to more than twelve years in Leavenworth, he earned three degrees there and found a new calling. He is now chair of Columbia University’s School of the Arts film division—the very school he exhorted students to burn down during one of his most famous speeches as a Panther.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 3 June 2012




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