HONEST REPORTING VITAL IN RACIALLY CHARGED CASES

In the November 6th issue of Florida Today, the Associated Press issued an article about the renaming of a road in Miami to honor 17-year old Trayvon Martin, who had been shot and killed in Sanford, Florida in 2012. The article would have us believe that Martin deserved the honor because he was an innocent kid wrongfully murdered by George Zimmerman, a local resident serving as a neighborhood watchman. Readers would naturally assume Trayvon Martin was victimized by a racist-born madman. Martin was considered by some as a hero, especially because he was unarmed. It was also emphasized that he was black and Zimmerman was not. Sadly, the often media fails to tell the whole story.

     Trayvon Martin was no hero. He was in Sanford visiting his father, because he had been suspended from school for ten days for possessing illegal drugs. Zimmerman spotted the lanky teen after sundown, walking through the neighborhood wearing a hoodie. Some might conclude that Zimmerman was wrong to follow the teen. True or not, that doesn’t justify Trayvon Martin’s actions from there.

     Based on a myriad of evidence and eye witnesses, it was determined that Trayvon Martin angrily turned and confronted Zimmerman, a pudgy 29 year-old. Martin suddenly punched Zimmerman in the face, knocking him to the sidewalk, then sat on Zimmerman’s body flailing more punches, battering his head on the concrete. Bloody trauma to Zimmerman’s head and face supports that accusation. Then, and only then, fearing for his life, Zimmerman removed the pistol from his clothing and fired one shot.

     Had Zimmerman failed to act, he would likely have been the corpse and not Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman knew that.

     As a retired 30-year cop who handled hundreds of assault cases, including the jailing of some police officers, I fail to grasp how and why Trayvon Martin should be honored when, in fact, he was committing a deadly assault on the watchman.

     These kinds of cases and the manner in which the media sometimes portrays an event, is what stirs hatred, particularly when it’s unwarranted.

     Per Associated Press: “The teen was unarmed and walking back from a convenience store when he was shot by George Zimmerman.”  

     There was far more to that story.

     This is also reminiscent of the killing of 18 year-old Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. The officer was ruthlessly vilified by the press and other citizen groups. One cable newscaster I watched went into an outrage stating, “A police officer shot and killed an unarmed boy.”

     That “unarmed boy” had just robbed a convenience store. Minutes later he was confronted by Officer Wilson on patrol, telling him to get back on the sidewalk and off the street. Weighing over 300 pounds, Brown suddenly punched Officer Wilson through then driver’s window, then reached in and grabbed the cop’s pistol, unsuccessfully.  Dazed and bloodied, Officer Wilson stepped from his car and warned the large teen to halt, that he was under arrest. Brown turned around and began charging Wilson in a menacing manner. Wilson fired shots. Brown went down, dead.

     These are facts as determined by a Grand Jury and a number of on-scene witnesses. Hate had nothing to do with it.

     This case spawned the group known today as “Black Lives Matter,” forging the perception by millions that it was a “racist” assault upon an innocent black teen. That simply was not true. Zimmerman came from a racially mixed family.

     Then began the ill-conceived chants among haters, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” as though the officer killed Michael Brown for folly. Officer Darren Wilson actually did nothing wrong. But he and his wife still live in seclusion for fear of retribution by hate mongers. His police career is finished.

     We also remember the New York City haters, marching the streets and chanting: “What do we want? Dead Cops?” over and over…while those targeted cops had to stand by, face to face, sucking it up, knowing how the press and local politicians stood by in accord. 

     The media has an obligation to be fair, neutral and non-presumptuous. Stirring emotions with errant reporting or purposeful omissions, means the reporters are guilty of manipulating facts in order to produce a volatile story.

    These are two incidents in which the media and people-mobs acted upon ill-conceived falsehoods, wrongfully castigating the innocent. Sometimes the bad guys are actually good, and the good guys are actually bad. It’s much about preconceived conclusions.