By PATRICK M. COVERT
BUFFALO, N.Y. —The death of Trayvon Martin has sparked much emotion in this country. For those who are not following the story, the 17-year-old Trayvon was shot and killed by a “captain” of the neighborhood watch, 28-year-old George Zimmerman. Between the media outcry and the typical social activists, the cry for vengeance is deafening. Many news anchors and reporters have tried and sentenced Mr. Zimmerman for murder.
The case was slow to hit the national spotlight. A self defense shooting in one of the 21 states with a “Stand Your Ground” law is not a priority during an election year weighted down by its own hot topics.
Nowadays I am finding it harder to wade through the volume of information to find the origin of this story. It appears to have exploded because Mr. Martin lay unidentified for three days in the morgue. After one national outlet caught wind of a possible racial motivation, the story spread like wildfire through the nation.
If you read any story about the case, you get the sense that race was Mr. Zimmerman’s sole motivation. Consider the facts that the victim was a black teenager; shot by a “white hispanic”; and The Rev. Al Sharpton cries foul.
There are scattered reports that Zimmerman used racial slurs in his 911 call prior to the shooting, and that Mr. Zimmerman had a history of targeting black teens. Fox News online is now reporting that the Sanford Police may have obstructed a racial slur hidden in the 911 tapes.
The reality is, very few people will ever know the facts in this case. A comment on the story posted at cnn.com by Sean Grebey states a witness saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, beating him. Another source says it was Mr. Martin being attacked and crying out for help. Our court system works great at figuring out these situations. Unfortunately, the City of Sanford claims that Florida state law PROHIBITS Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest at this time.
My concern is that without full disclosure, the public at large is making bad assumptions based on incorrect, incomplete data. The police will not, and cannot, provide full disclosure on this case, since it is an open investigation. So the media and activists are left to “investigate” their own way, using hearsay and assumptions to put together the story they would like to represent. With sales numbers on the line, reporters are digging up the most sensational stories they can without regard to whose lives they are affecting.
How is the populace to be pacified and the media satisfied? A lasting solution to that question, I believe, is a pipe dream.
Justice could be achieved by doing the right and constitutional thing– arresting George Zimmerman to let a jury sort out the story. According to Gov. Rick Scott’s office, a new prosecutor has been appointed to the case after Sanford’s lead prosecutor recused himself over the public outcry. This was followed by the announcement of a grand jury hearing on April tenth of this year to help sort out the situation.
It appears that the state is attempting to correct the mistakes made by the Sanford Police Department on February 28th, when Mr. Zimmereman was not arrested. After all, Florida State House Rep. Dennis Baxley (R.), who was an author of the original bill, said told CNN that George Zimmerman is not protected under Florida Criminal Law title 776.013. When asked whether Mr. Zimmerman should be arrested, Rep. Baxley did not want to overstep his bounds, suggesting the court be left to answer that question. This sentiment was also expressed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed the legislation into law in 2005.
Still I worry that the irresponsible reporting by the media and civil rights activists will make this a bigger problem than it is now. So there was the Million Hoodie March. High school students across the country are wearing hoodies, carrying skittles, and drinking iced tea. Even professional athletes have been photographed wearing hoodies at practice. All this is benign enough, but what about the inflammatory statements by Rev. Al? The good Reverend seems to point the finger directly at individual and systemic racism. The Black Panther Party has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, possibly suggesting violence toward him.
Because of the sensational reporting and assumptions made by the general public, George Zimmerman’s constitutional rights are threatened. He is in hiding because of the mob mentality the story has generated. He is in exile without due process; his life at risk!
The only just solution, to satisfy everyone and follow the spirit of the law, would be to arrest George Zimmerman. Let a judge and jury do their jobs; finding the truth to protect Mr. Zimmerman, as well as establishing justice for the screaming masses. Then, I hope, the media and the good people of These United States can do the right thing and respect their decision.–©2012 Patrick M. Covert
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(Editor’s Note: The Covert Letter is pleased to welcome Patrick M. Covert as a an Editor at Large for The Covert Letter. A medical professional, Mr. Covert will offer occasional commentary. He writes from his home in Buffalo, N.Y.)