The Florida neighborhood watch captain who is currently on trial for second degree murder may have a more formidable opponent than the struggling prosecution team; It appears that, after shooting 17-year-old black teenager Trayvon Martin – allegedly in self-defense – George Zimmerman became an enemy of the state.
The assertion that the mainstream media has been determined to sway public opinion – and influence the criminal case – against Zimmerman is not merely opinion: It is fact. When audio tapes of Zimmeman’s call to police on the night of the shooting were release, NBC edited the version of the audio clip they released to make it appear as though the Hispanic neighborhood watchman was, first and foremost, a racist. A previous Guardian Express report provides an account of this selective editing. After the editing was exposed as deceptive, NBC conducted an internal investigation into the matter.
CNN has also taken a side in the case against Zimmerman: On Monday, July 1, the cable news network aired a document – submitted to the court as evidence – that showed Zimmerman’s address, phone number, date of birth and social security number. When defending this act of gross journalistic malpractice, CNN Senior Vice President of Communications Allison Gollust wrote in an email to the website Politico, which ran a story on the incident, “Routinely the evidence is first given to the Court Clerk for redaction, and that didn’t happen in this instance. The Court is circling back to attorneys on both sides to make sure they give the Clerk’s office the opportunity to redact the necessary information.”
CNN is also guilty of making false statements related to the case: Mediaite reports that during a discussion of the trial Monday, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan remarked that “even in Florida, it’s okay to dislike criminals,” to which show host Ashleigh Banfield replied “It’s okay to dislike criminals, but Trayvon Martin was no criminal.” It should be noted that Trayvon Martin’s character and previous conduct, in itself – whether good or bad – does not justify his killing. It should also be noted that Martin’s police records are sealed, as he was a juvenile. However; his school records show that he was suspended on more than one occasion; once when he was found with what has been described as a “burglary tool” in his bag, along with several items of women’s jewelry. Another suspension followed the discovery that he was in possession of a ‘baggy’ that had contained Marijuana; this incident was confirmed by a spokesman for the Martin family.
Regardless of whether these incidents led to any formal criminal charges, they both constitute criminal acts. To state, on a news broadcast, that Martin “was no criminal” is willfully deceptive, even if it is, possibly, technically correct. If one commits a crime, one is – by definition – a criminal, regardless of legal conviction.
Media deceptions and lack of journalistic ethics, however, are not George Zimmerman’s greatest problems; it has been revealed that the Department of Justice (DoJ) has deemed him a virtual enemy of the state. In April 2012, Judicial Watch began an investigation into possible collusion between the DoJ and anti-Zimmerman activists in Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed. As a result of public records requests, Judicial Watch obtained information that documents the involvement of a DoJ unit in the organizing of anti-Zimmerman protests and demonstrations. This little-known unit is called the Community Relations Service (CRS). Following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Judicial Watch received 347 pages of information from the DoJ – 122 initially and a further 225 pages after Judicial Watch administratively appealed the request.
In summary, these documents disclose that, during March and April of 2012, CRS employees traveled to Sanford, Florida on three occasions to “to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies”; “to provide technical assistance to the City of Sanford event organizers, and law enforcement agencies for the march and rally on March 31” and “to provide technical assistance, conciliation, and onsite mediation during demonstrations planned in Sanford.” The total cost of these three projects was just over $3,200. Additionally, the CRS sent employees to Tampa, Florida, to “meet with RNC official related to possible protests and demonstrations during the RNC.”
The CRS, also known as “The Peacemakers,” was established under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Their task was to provide assistance in mitigating tensions between ethnic groups.
The Orlando Sentinel has also reported on CRS activities in Florida, relating to the Trayvon Martin shooting. These federal employees have facilitated the staging of marches and demonstrations. Officially, their role is to reach out to the local authorities and the community, in order to prevent violence and ease tensions. The mere fact, however, that employees of a federal agency are directly involved – in whatever capacity – in activism relating to a criminal matter, is noteworthy. The fact that the national media has not covered this element of the Zimmerman story suggests a reluctance to encourage scrutiny of CRS activities.
The DoJ has taken no action against any of the many individuals who have made death threats against Zimmerman – and, indeed, against random white people – or who have used social media to directly incite violence, race riots and racial hatred; and yet, this same federal agency is advising and facilitating those who are attempting to influence the outcome of a criminal trial. There can be little doubt, it appears, that the DoJ has picked a side in this trial and that George Zimmerman has become a de facto enemy of the state.
An editorial by Graham J Noble