By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
ABOVE PHOTO: Rev. Al Sharpton speaks as the family of Trayvon Martin, from left, Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin, center, and Jahvaris Fulton during a rally on behalf of the family of shooting victim Trayvon Martin, Thursday, April 26, 2012, in Los Angeles. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death. Zimmerman claims self-defense, but Martin’s family claims he targeted the unarmed teen mainly because the teen was black.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The rush to acquit rogue, self-appointed vigilante George Zimmerman of the murder of Trayvon Martin long before a trial has been non-stop.
The latest effort came with the release in quick succession of fresh photos of Zimmerman’s alleged head and facial injuries at the hands of Martin and an autopsy report that found traces of THC a chemical substance in marijuana in Martin’s system. This was more than enough for the legion of Martin bashers to sprint forward with a new round of see-I-told you that Zimmerman is innocent digs at Martin’s family, supporters, the Rev. Al Sharpton, the media, and of course Zimmerman’s prosecutors.
Add this to the long litany of veiled and not so veiled hints, innuendoes, digs, and crass, snide, accusing comments, remarks, slander and outright lies about Martin’s alleged bad background. The aim in pumping out the barrage of supposed damning “new” accusatory information about Martin is not just to absolve Zimmerman of any culpability in the murder of Martin. But to reinforce the image of young black males, such as Martin, as irresponsible, crime prone, and violent.
The image assault on Martin and remake of Zimmerman swiftly kicked in virtually moments after Sharpton and other civil rights leaders answered the appeal of the Martin family and attorneys to help bring public and media exposure to a case that was clearly going nowhere in the hands of an inept, insensitive, and even hostile Sanford, Florida police department. The professional race baiters and bashers slurred that Martin’s hoodie got him killed. He was branded a possibly a dangerous troublemaker. President Obama was ripped publicly by then GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich and a slew of right wing talk jocks and bloggers for playing the race card for his sensitive remarks about Martin.
PHOTO: Trayvon Martin with an unidentified baby.
The attacks have had some success in transforming Zimmerman from an aggressive loose cannon vigilante to a tragic victim of Martin. The image remake has been so convincing to those who look to grab at any excuse no matter how flimsy to justify Zimmerman’s murderous act that they have poured tens of thousands of dollars into his PR and legal defense. This makes the climb even steeper for federal prosecutors weighing possible hate crime charges against Zimmerman. It also raises the ante for state prosecutors to try and prove that Zimmerman acted with brutal malice of forethought in gunning down Martin.
The steady churning out of inflammatory and potentially damning facts about Martin to cast Zimmerman in a sympathetic light and that made headline news are widely seen, heard and read by a wide segment of the public. This makes it hard, if not impossible, to find jurors that haven’t heard something about the case. That something more than likely will have been one of the many negative nuggets dropped about Martin.
But what has all the image massage of Zimmerman really changed? Even if it’s conceded that Martin smoked marijuana, and fought like a tiger to defend himself against Zimmerman, it doesn’t change the irrefutable facts. Zimmerman disregarded the admonition of a dispatcher not to pursue Martin, and by his own admission confronted Martin. There is absolutely no evidence that Martin had committed any crime. The campaign of innuendo and attack against Martin and defense of Zimmerman bolstered by alleged new facts about the shooting come weeks after the killing and puts the prosecution and Martin family supporters in the awkward and unfair position of having to fend off every hint or outright accusation of wrongdoing by Martin while Zimmerman’s image of a zealous troublemaker continues to get scrubbed cleaner.
The painful proof of that is Martin’s alleged drug use and Zimmerman’s alleged battle wounds are headlined in the reports. But buried in the same public reports and glossed over are the statements from an investigator and former associates of Zimmerman that he was a bully and a racist, and that he himself was taking prescription drugs for various disorders. The Martin family attorneys brought this out, and it was buried at the tail end of media reports on the “new” negative facts about Martin.
The ultimate trump card that Zimmerman’s army of defenders and Martin detractors can and will play is Zimmerman himself. He’s alive, Martin isn’t. He will be able to tell whatever story he wants to tell on the witness stand. He will be amply armed with the storehouse of officially released and unofficially leaked “new” and damning information about Martin to bolster his tale. He can thank the never ending rush to acquit him for that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.
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