The cowardly police in Sanford, Florida, who sanctioned the murder of an unarmed black teenager by a racist vigilante named George Zimmerman, have now assassinated Trayvon Martin a second time, by leaking scurrilous and irrelevant “news” about him. This age-old dirty-trick of cops—compounded by a blitzkrieg of propaganda from Zimmerman’s lawyer, The Orlando Sentinel, and one apparently unhinged black “friend”–has been, so far, fairly successful in muddying the narrative on the public airwaves. So let’s take a moment to sift through the cops’ slurs and innuendoes and see where, if anyplace, they take us.
About the salient facts there is no dispute. Zimmerman, a cop wanna-be who was also probably a small-time informant, a pathetic, chubby, Chaz-Bono-lookalike who’d twice been arrested for hitting a woman; Zimmerman, son of a judge, safe from reprisals; George Zimmerman, who calls black kids “coons” and “assholes,” who was strictly warned not to pursue Trayvon Martin, refused this direct order over the phone and instead grabbed his 9-millimeter gun and waddled off to blow a hole in the chest of a kid who had committed no wrong.
From the start, I was edgy about certain elements of the outrage. Too much emphasis on the presumed childishness and vulnerability of Trayvon Martin, about the Skittles and ski-vacations and his undeniable cuteness. My own son is only six months younger than Trayvon, and he is of mixed racial background, with a tawny complexion; he always wears a hoodie with the hood up, along with other clothes some would perceive as “ghetto”; he is 6’1” and very well-muscled; and he loves Skittles. He is also, by objective account, adorable and kind-hearted. But if some oafish vigilante were to challenge his right to walk down the street, he might well become angry, and he might defend himself with a punch.
Thus today’s biggest, police-leaked “reveleation”: that, gee, perhaps Trayvon Martin was not Mahatma Ghandi with a sweet-tooth. According to the cops—parroting Zimmerman’s own account, since of course they did absolutely no forensic work of their own (CSI Sanford would be the worst and shortest program on TV)—Martin punched Zimmerman in the face, breaking his nose…thus, of course, provoking his own murder.
Let’s take this face-punching story at face value, though few of the details ring true (Zimmerman refused medical attention at the scene, which will confuse anyone who’s ever suffered a broken nose). Though it is not noble or Christian of me to admit it, I hope Trayvon got a few good shots in. The big irony here is the much-cited “Stand Your Ground Law,” quoted as a defense for Zimmerman’s actions; but if the phrase and the concept have any meaning at all, they would, rather, go to justify Trayvon Martin’s punches!
So let’s assume a scenario where George Zimmerman, with the “fucking coon” still fresh out of his mouth, stomps off to play tough-guy with the “asshole” in the hoodie, and winds up getting punked in a fight he picked but can’t finish. Any man who lived through public high school knows George Zimmerman, and may well have had occasion to kick his ass. But, until fairly recently, the George Zimmermans of the world did not carry nine-millimeter guns.
And so hateful, dopey, clumsy George Zimmerman pulled his trump card, his one and only answer to a world that scares and overwhelms him, and shot a hole in Trayvon Martin’s chest.
The other piece of the cop/Zimmerman leak-strategy today was to drop the supposedly Perry Mason revelation that…this supposedly “good” kid, Trayvon Martin…had been suspended from high school…for possessing an empty bag that had once held marijuana!
Yeah…so, America, how do you like your Trayvon Martin now? He may have smoked weed!
The assumption being, in Sanford, Florida, that possession of an empty bag that once held marijuana is reasonable grounds for murder.
Let us not impose a false and un-necessary innocence on Trayvon Martin in order to pump up our outrage. Let’s allow Trayvon Martin to be a real young man—my son, your son–with anger as well as innocence, perhaps even with marijuana as well as Skittles.
George Zimmerman did not murder some idealized vision of Innocent Black Childhood, or any other idealized vision. No, worse—much worse. He murdered a real 17-year-old. And now, with the help of the local newspaper and a shyster lawyer, the cops are killing that 17-year-old a second time.
John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org