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Blaming Trayvon?

By Final Call Staff | Last updated: Apr 4, 2012 - 10:13:17 AM

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Anger grows as attention shifts to teen victim instead of focusing on the man who killed him

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Trayvon Martin’s parents Tracy Martin, center in light green, and Sybrina Fulton, listen as their lawyer Benjamin Crump, speaks at a news conference after they attended the House Judiciary Committee Democrats’ briefi ng on racial profi ling and hate crimes on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on March 27, 2012. Photo: AP Wide World Photos/Jacquelyn Martin

(FinalCall.com) - The father of slain teen Trayvon Martin is not hesitant when stating exactly what he would like to see done to the 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain who killed his son over a month ago.

“Justice for us would be to have George Zimmerman caught, handcuffed, arrested, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and charged for the murder of Trayvon. We want nothing less than that,” Tracy Martin told The Final Call, in an exclusive interview.

“Honestly, it’s terrifying that this man has yet to be arrested after outright killing our son. We all know that if Trayvon had been the triggerman and Zimmerman had been the victim, we would be visiting our son behind bars,” said Mr. Martin.

At Final Call press time, reports emerged that the haunting screams for help heard in the background of a 911 call were the boy’s last words. “I believe that’s Trayvon Martin in the background, without a doubt,” Ed Primeau, a Michigan-based audio engineer and forensics expert, told the Orlando Sentinel. Using “audio enhancement and human analysis based on forensic experience,” Mr. Primeau concluded, “That’s a young man screaming.”

His findings and another expert in the same article published April 2, declared the person calling for help was not Mr. Zimmerman, who claimed he was shouting for help in a life and death struggle with the teenager, who attacked him.

After 28 years of work in the field, Mr. Primeau told CNN he would put his reputation on the line and say the voice was not George Zimmerman. Asked to provide a percentage of certainty, Mr. Primeau put the number at 95 percent.

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'From the outset of this case, we have seen numerous discrepancies committed by the Sanford Police Department in the Trayvon Martin case. ..Moreover, the Sanford Police never did toxicology testing on George Zimmerman, yet immediately tested Trayvon’s body; the area where the crime was committed was never properly secured, police failed to interview some witnesses, investigators never contacted Trayvon’s girlfriend even though they knew she was on the phone with him during the incident, police reports contradict the chief’s public statements, and several other anomalies.'
—Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)

“This young man Trayvon Martin beautiful young man in the States shot down by a community captain that followed him and said these a-holes. He’s telling you that he doesn’t like the person that he’s following he shoots him. Now I talked to the mother, I talked to the father, I told them that this precious child is a nail in the coffin of White supremacy and his beauty, his peaceful demeanor, his sweetness has touched all of us who saw his face,” said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, during a March 25 address in Trinidad.

Min. Farrakhan said in talking with the young man’s mother, he shared how scripture paints the picture of the crucifixion of Jesus for the redemption of others. “Some people die for the benefit of others … I said your child died that the sleeping masses who have been killing each other would rise up and say enough is enough. And today all over America now the people are rising,” Min. Farrakhan continued.

“I have a Twitter account and on my little tweet I said, ‘I am deeply hurt over the loss of this young man’s life but where there is no justice there will never be peace. So let us see if the government of the United States and the government of Florida will give this bereaved family and the bereaved community justice but if not soon and very soon we may call for the law of retaliation.’ …

“Well I would not like to call for that but when I finish my lecture today I want you to see Trinidad that you are in the path of extinction. They’re killing you as we speak and they’re killing our children,” he said.

Mr. Martin and the mother of the 17-year-old victim, Sybrina Fulton, have turned the death of their son into a rallying cry for justice. The grieving parents called on the Justice Dept. for a formal investigation of law enforcement handling of their son’s death. The family attorney said his clients would file the request April 2 out of concern Florida prosecutors were negligent in not charging Mr. Zimmerman in the fatal shooting. There are questions about why Florida state attorney Norm Wolfinger may have overruled police seeking to charge Mr. Zimmerman the night Trayvon was shot. A special prosecutor, Angela Corey, has replaced Mr. Wolfinger.

As the family was turning to the Justice Dept. for help, they fought for their son’s reputation, accusing the Sanford Police Dept. of leaks to the media. The family responded March 25 to a report that Trayvon had been suspended from school after traces of marijuana were found in his book bag. Family attorney Ben Crump confirmed the suspension occurred, but family members and activists stressed the suspension was irrelevant. “We maintain that regardless of the specific reason for the suspension, it’s got nothing to do with the events that unfolded on Feb. 26,” said a family spokesperson. Trayvon was shot to death on Feb. 26.

At a March 25 press conference, Rev. Al Sharpton added, “the only thing that is relevant is what Mr. Zimmerman knew that day.”

Sybrina Fulton charged authorities were trying to demonize her son. “They’ve killed my son and now they’re trying to kill his reputation,” Ms. Fulton said.

“Even in death, they are still disrespecting my son, and that is a shame,” added Tracy Martin at the press conference in Sanford, Fla. He was accompanied by civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Rev. Sharpton. The same day, authorities confirmed to the Associated Press that Trayvon did not have a juvenile offender record.

“If he and his friends experimented with marijuana, that is completely irrelevant to George Zimmerman killing their son on the night of Feb. 26,” Atty. Crump said. “Law enforcement is attempting to demonize and blame the victim.”

Right wing pundits and gossip thirsty bloggers took jabs at the narrative of Trayvon Martin’s noncriminal background by attacking his character—posting false thuggish images and spreading private school disciplinary records.

“What is the significance of them attempting to smear my son’s image? They want to accuse him of doing certain things when the focus should be on the fact that my son was murdered by Zimmerman,” said Tracy Martin.

Trayvon’s parents also found themselves on the defensive as new reports portrayed their slain son as the aggressor in a case.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that George Zimmerman told police he lost 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in the neighborhood he regularly patrolled and was walking back to his vehicle when the youth approached him from behind.

The two exchanged words, Mr. Zimmerman said, and Trayvon then punched him, jumped on top of him and began banging his head on a sidewalk. A statement from Sanford police said the newspaper story was “consistent” with evidence turned over to prosecutors.

Then Fox News host Geraldo Rivera blamed the hoodie Trayvon was wearing for his death. Mr. Rivera tweeted March 22: “His hoodie killed Trayvon Martin as surely as George Zimmerman.” He also tweeted March 23: “Its not blaming the victim Its common sense-look like a gangsta&some armed schmuck will take you at your word.”

On March 23 on Fox News, Mr. Rivera said, “It’s those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-Eleven, the kid’s wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or they get the old lady in the alcove, it’s a kid wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta — you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace.”

After an uproar and initial refusal to take back his words, Mr. Rivera apologized on Fox News to those offended by his remarks. But in an email to Politico.com, he insisted, “I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.”

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons blasted the remarks, posting March 27 on his Global Grind website, “Geraldo, Your Apology Is Bullsh*t!” “Your apology is nothing but a defense of a racist, backward thing you already said. And I am a yogi, and I generally don’t speak like this, but I have to say it like it is. It is a non-apology apology that continues to blame the victim for their appearance,” said Mr. Simmons.

“Although a black preacher may warn his congregation or a black father may tell his son that we live in a society where they can be singled out, where they’re going to have to defend themselves against the racism that exists in America, it is not for you to go out on the most Conservative news network and say something insensitive and enabling on a show that you know promotes the most negative stereotypes.”

“The death of Trayvon Martin is an American tragedy. Racial profiling has to stop. Just because someone is a young Black male and wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” said Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) during a statement on the House floor on March 28.

Rep. Rush, a former member of the Black Panther Party, threw a grey hood over his head and put on dark sunglasses before concluding his passionate words. “I applaud the young people across this nation who are making a statement about hoodies and the real hoodlums, particularly those who tread on our laws wearing official or quasi-official cloaks,” said Rep. Rush. His presentation was ruled out of order, and he was gaveled down and escorted from the House floor, ostensibly because hooded sweatshirts are deemed inappropriate dress. The congressman countered that his dress was fine, he was wearing a tie.

Federal and state authorities are now investigating and a Florida grand jury is scheduled to convene on April 10 to hear evidence in case.

Mychal Bell, who was a part of the high-profile “Jena Six,” sees the killing of Trayvon Martin building similar support that he and others witnessed years ago when thousands occupied the small town of Jena, La. “Some might be saying that it’s a waste of time to be rallying for Trayvon and his family, but that’s not true. Trayvon’s family needs support just like we did. The most important support they will need is when the news cameras are gone and the rallies stop,” said Mr. Bell, who will be graduating from college in 2013.

“It’s really tragic what has happened to Trayvon and how this has been handled. It just goes to show that racial profiling and racism within the justice system is still around,” Mr. Bell, 22, told The Final Call. He’s a junior physical therapy major and football player at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. Mr. Bell and five other Black teens were being charged with attempted second-degree murder stemming from a school fight with a White classmate in 2006 after three nooses were found hanging from a tree at Jena High School. The historic case came to a close in 2009 and all of the ex-defendants are free and in school.

Student Minister James Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam Study Group in Tampa, was among speakers at the March 31 NAACP outside the Sanford, Fla. station. “We’re sharing with the people guidance found in the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s message ‘Justifiable Homicide’ that is very pertinent to this case. He warned us years ago what was coming,” Mr. Muhammad told The Final Call.

“We have the task of pointing out and reminding our people that God’s justice will come. It may seem like an apparent waste, but the loss of Trayvon Martin’s life is being used by God to spark something that transcends racial, religious, gender and generational lines,” said Mr. Muhammad.

Questionable stories mounting

Mr. Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense when he shot Trayvon with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

Mr. Zimmerman, who was patrolling a gated community in Sanford, dialed 911 and reported a suspicious looking Black male walking through the neighborhood. He ignored the 911 dispatcher’s instructions not to pursue the person and moments later law officials arrived on the scene to find Trayvon lying face down on the ground lifeless.

A police report says that the back of Mr. Zimmerman’s shirt appeared to be wet with grassy stains and he was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. His lawyer said his client suffered a broken nose while trying to fight off Trayvon.

In contrast, no blood or injuries were visible in the recently aired video taken by police surveillance cameras as Sanford officers led Mr. Zimmerman through the police station hours after the shooting.

According to the NY Daily News, the EMS documents from the night of the killing showed that Mr. Zimmerman did not sustain any potentially fatal injuries in the encounter with Trayvon.

Richard Kurtz, a Miami funeral home director, told CBS News when he prepared the body for the funeral it showed no signs of bruises, scrapes or any sort of violent struggle. “(Trayvon) Martin looked perfectly normal to me when he came in and the story just does not make sense that he was in this type of scuffle or fight in anything that we could see. It just does not add up,” Mr. Kurtz said.

Reportedly, early in the investigation, the Sanford police actually had requested an arrest warrant for Mr. Zimmerman from the Seminole County State Attorney’s office, but it wasn’t carried out. Also a Sanford police incident report shows the case was categorized as “homicide/negligent manslaughter.”

“From the outset of this case, we have seen numerous discrepancies committed by the Sanford Police Department in the Trayvon Martin case,” said Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), whose district includes Sanford. “Moreover, the Sanford Police never did toxicology testing on George Zimmerman, yet immediately tested Trayvon’s body; the area where the crime was committed was never properly secured, police failed to interview some witnesses, investigators never contacted Trayvon’s girlfriend even though they knew she was on the phone with him during the incident, police reports contradict the chief’s public statements, and several other anomalies,” said Rep. Brown.

Mr. Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, Sr., has been revealed to be an ex-magistrate judge and his mother, Gladys Zimmerman, a court clerk. Their occupations have raised eyebrows since it was reported that in 2005 their son was charged with battery on an officer but the case was dismissed.

(Final Call staff in Chicago and AP contributed to this report.)

Related news:

Trayvon Martin - The fight for justice continues (FCN, 03-28-2012)

Killing of Black teen, Trayvon Martin sparks outcry, national mobilization (FCN, 03-20-2012)

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