Trayvon Martin

Obama: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago”


Watch the video  : click here

n some of his most extensive comments on U.S. race relations since entering the White House, President Obama on Friday gave a very personal perspective of the shooting of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman, offering an explanation for why the case has created so much anxiety within the African-American community.

 

“When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said this could’ve been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Mr. Obama said in an unexpected appearance in the White House briefing room, where reporters were gathered to question White House spokesman Jay Carney. (Watch his full remarks in the video above)

 

 

 

“When you think about why in the African-American community, at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, it’s important to recognize the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and history that doesn’t go away.”

 

After a Florida jury on Saturday acquitted Zimmerman of murder, Mr. Obama gave a decidedly muted response, noting that the Justice Department was reviewing the case. Some civil rights leaders called for more action from the administration of the nation’s first African-American president.

 

 

The president on Friday laid out a series of actions the government could take to help ease racial tensions at the community level, as well as foster a better environment for African-American boys. He also spoke about the sort of negative experiences that are common for young African-American men — some of which he said he has personally experienced — that have prompted the passionate reactions to the Zimmerman verdict.

 

 

 

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping at a department store, and that includes me,” he said. He spoke about hearing the locks click on car doors while crossing the street — something Mr. Obama said he experienced before he was senator — or seeing a woman nervously clutch her purse while in an elevator with an African-American man.

 

 

“I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. It’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”

 

Mr. Obama said that government at all levels could help ease race relations by working with local law enforcement to create racial sensitivity training programs and best practices. As a state senator in Illinois, Mr. Obama helped pass racial profiling legislation that required training for officers on racial bias issues. He said that while police departments were initially resistant, it allowed them to build more trust with their communities.

 

Next, Mr. Obama said, “I think it’d be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kind of altercations and tragedies” that occurred in the Trayvon Martin case.

 

 

 

Obama calls for “soul-searching” in wake of Zimmerman verdict

 

The president acknowledged that Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law was not part of Zimmerman’s defense. Nevertheless, Mr. Obama said that kind of law does not necessarily send a positive message.

 

“If we’re sending a message in our societies … that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there is a way for them to exit from the situation, is that really going to be contributing to the peace and order?” he asked. “For those who resist that idea, I’d just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? Do we actually think he would’ve been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman because he followed him in a car?”

 

Mr. Obama also said the nation should consider how to “bolster and reinforce our African-American boys.”

 

“There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting negative reinforcement,” he said, adding there is “more we can do to give them a sense their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest them.”

 

Mr. Obama added that he is not “naive about the prospects of some new, grand program,” but that business leaders, clergy, athletes, celebrities and others could help “young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed.”

 

The president said that national dialogues on race are not typically productive because “they end up being stilted and politicized,” but that it’s worth having conversations among families or churches.

 

Finally, he said the nation shouldn’t lose sight of its progress on issues of race and equality.

 

“When I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are,” he said. “That’s true of every community that I’ve visited all across the country.”

Justice Department To Sift Through Evidence In Zimmerman Case, Look For Potential Racial Motive


July 16, 2013

MIAMI — The Justice Department will sift through trial testimony, interviews and other evidence during what is likely to be a months-long investigation into whether George Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin’s civil rights when he shot the black teenager.

The key to charging Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, lies in whether evidence exists that he was motivated by racial animosity to kill Martin, who was 17 when he was shot during a fight with Zimmerman in February 2012. And while Martin’s family has said the teen was racially profiled, no evidence surfaced during the state trial that Zimmerman had a racial bias.

Former Miami federal prosecutor David S. Weinstein says it will likely be months before a decision is made on whether to bring charges.

Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges after claiming he fired his weapon in self-defense only after Martin attacked him. His friends and family have repeatedly denied he harbored racial animosity toward blacks. Florida did not use its own hate crime laws against Zimmerman.

Legal experts say the FBI and prosecutors will go back through the interviews done before the state case began; look at all the forensics such as crime scene records and medical reports; and review the state’s witnesses to see if any who did not testify might have important information.

However, investigators are not limited to existing evidence; they can pursue new evidence and conduct new interviews as they see fit. For instance, federal investigators could look more closely at Zimmerman’s past for any evidence of racial bias.

“They are going to need to do a thorough vetting of the facts. It takes time,” said Lauren Resnick, a former prosecutor who obtained a guilty verdict in a 1991 New York hate crime case involving the stabbing death of an Orthodox Jew. Those defendants had been acquitted in state court.

In a speech Tuesday to an NAACP convention in Orlando, Attorney General Eric Holder said “I am concerned” about the Zimmerman case and pledged the Justice Department will conduct a thorough review.

“While that inquiry is ongoing, I can promise that the Department of Justice will consider all available information before determining what action to take,” he said.

The lone juror in the case who has spoken publicly – known only as Juror B37 because their identities have not been released – said Monday that she did not believe Zimmerman followed Martin because the teen was black.

Still, supporters of the Justice Department filing civil rights charges say additional evidence could exist in the federal investigation that didn’t come up in the state prosecution of Zimmerman, possibly even witnesses who have not previously been interviewed or did not come up in the state case.

“They have a separate set of evidence they’re looking at,” said Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “They might have additional witnesses that were never called upon by the state. I think they will make the best decision that is possible in this case and they will pursue what they think is legally possible.”

Several civil rights groups, including the NAACP, are demanding that the Justice Department bring federal charges against Zimmerman, and there have been numerous protests around the country about the outcome of the Florida trial.

During a news conference Tuesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton acknowledged there are hurdles. But he said there remains a fundamental question of “does Trayvon Martin and the Trayvon Martins of this country have the civil right to go home?”

He added: “… we have some experience on how to deal with hurdles and we see that as part of our strategy.”

Beyond the exact language of the law itself, the federal probe must navigate between sensitive racial and political issues that arose when Zimmerman initially wasn’t charged in Martin’s killing.

“Many people simply cannot process how an unarmed teenager is killed, and yet no one is held criminally accountable for his death,” said Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.

Resnick said a federal jury would have to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman had a racial motive when he began following Martin and that he did not act in self-defense when he fired his gun.

“There remains the serious challenge that prosecutors still have to prove the racial motive,” she said.

Zimmerman could get life in prison if charged and convicted under federal hate crime laws.

Generally, the Justice Department is reluctant to get involved in cases that have already been tried before a state jury, in part because of concerns about double jeopardy.

Perhaps the best-known example where federal prosecutors did intervene was the case of four police officers acquitted after a California state trial in the beating of motorist Rodney King, which triggered deadly riots in the Los Angeles area in 1992.

Two of the four officers were convicted in federal court of violating King’s rights, but that case differs from Zimmerman’s because they were acting as sworn law enforcement officials, not as a private citizen claiming self-defense.

In contrast, the Justice Department declined to prosecute New York Police Department officers after they were acquitted in the 2006 shootings of three men including Sean Bell, who was fatally wounded the morning of his planned wedding. The short Justice Department statement – issued in 2010, four years after the shooting – simply said there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

“Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation,” the department said in the Bell case.

___

Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando and Shaquille Brewster in Washington contributed to this story.

FLORIDA – George Zimmerman’s Wife Arrested: Shellie Zimmerman Charged With Perjury


June 12, 2012 Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Shelliezimmerman

ORLANDO, Fla. — The wife of Trayvon Martin’s shooter was charged with perjury Tuesday, accused of lying when she told a judge that the couple had limited funds during a hearing that resulted in her husband being released on $150,000 bond.

Shellie Zimmerman, 25, was released on $1,000 bond on the third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. George Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the teen’s slaying and had been out on bond after the April 20 hearing. However, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester on June 1 revoked the bond and ordered Zimmerman returned to the Seminole County Jail. In a strongly worded ruling, Lester said the Zimmermans lied about how much money they had.

George Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara has said the couple was confused and fearful when they misled court officials about how much money they had. A call and email to him on Tuesday weren’t immediately returned.

Records show Shellie Zimmerman in the days before the hearing transferred $74,000 in eight smaller amounts ranging from $7,500 to $9,990, from her husband’s credit union account to hers, according to an arrest affidavit. It also shows that $47,000 was transferred from George Zimmerman’s account to his sister’s in the days before the bond hearing.

Four days after he was released on bond, Shellie Zimmerman transferred more than $85,500 from her account into her husband’s account, the affidavit said. The affidavit also said that jail call records show that George Zimmerman instructed her to “pay off all the bills,” including an American Express and Sam’s Club card.

A state attorney investigator met with credit union officials and learned that she had control of transfers to and from her husband’s account.

Jeffrey Neiman, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said cash transactions in excess of $10,000 usually trigger a reporting requirement by the bank to multiple government agencies – including the IRS.

If Mrs. Zimmerman intentionally structured the financial transactions in a manner to keep the offense under $10,000, not only may she have committed perjury in the state case, but she also may have run afoul of several federal statutes and could face serious federal criminal charges,” Neiman wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, has maintained since the Feb. 26 killing that he shot Martin in self-defense because the unarmed 17-year-old was beating him up after confronting Zimmerman about following him in a gated community outside Orlando.

Zimmerman was arrested 44 days later and at the bond hearing, he took the stand and apologized to Martin’s parents.

At the hearing, Shellie Zimmerman testified that the couple, who married in 2007, had limited funds for bail because she was a full-time student and her husband wasn’t working. Prosecutors say they actually had then already raised $135,000 in donations from a website George Zimmerman created. They suggested more had been raised since then.

Shellie Zimmerman was asked about the website at the hearing, but she said she didn’t know how much money had been raised. Lester set the $150,000 bail and Zimmerman was freed a few days later after posting $15,000 in cash – which is typical.

In bringing a motion to have Zimmerman’s bond revoked lead prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda complained “This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny. It was misleading and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”

The judge agreed and ordered Zimmerman returned to jail where he has been since turning himself in on June 3. He didn’t perjure himself, but Lester said he knew his wife was lying.

“Does your client get to sit there like a potted plant and lead the court down the primrose path? That’s the issue,” Lester said in revoking Zimmerman’s bond. “He can’t sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods.”

He has another bond hearing set for June 29.

De la Rionda presented to the judge during the revocation hearing a partial transcript of telephone conversations Zimmerman had with his wife from jail, days before the original bond hearing.

Zimmerman and his wife discussed the amount of money raised from the website, and Zimmerman spoke in code to tell his wife how to make fund transfers, according to the transcript. The code referred to amounts of “$15” in place of “$150,000.”

In the arrest affidavit, they also spoke about small amounts when really, prosecutors said, they were referring in code to thousands of dollars that Shellie Zimmerman withdrew from her account to pay the bail bondsman.

___

George Zimmerman’s Old Cell Phone Number Given To Junior Guy In Orlando; Death Threats Begin


June 8, 2012  Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com

The moment Junior Alexander Guy activated his very first cell phone, calls started rolling in.

He was threatened, harassed and accused of murder at all hours of the day and night, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.

“You deserve to die,” the callers would say. “You murderer!”

Turns out that T-Mobile had given Guy the cell phone number formerly used by George Zimmerman — the man who in February shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida.

When Zimmerman’s 911 tape was released, so was his number: 407-435-2400. Zimmerman got rid of the number and it was given to 49-year-old Guy, who got his first cell phone on May 7, Newscore reported.

Guy received about 70 threatening calls between the 7th and the 16th, when he turned the phone over to a lawyer and demanded compensation from T-Mobile. But the cell company refused, saying that Guy was provided with a new number and credit toward his bill.

T-Mobile then retired Zimmerman’s old cell phone number so nobody else would be threatened.

Zimmerman, 28, was charged with murder after he shot and killed 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed during the Feb. 26 incident. He claims the shooting was in self defense and pleaded not guilty. His bond was recently revoked and he has returned to jail.

The killing of Martin sparked a national uproar over Zimmerman, the responsibilities of a neighborhood watch volunteer, and race.

Trayvon Martin Case: Donations For George Zimmerman Spike On Return To Jail


June 4, 2012 Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com

After getting sent back to jail for allegedly lying about his finances, George Zimmerman has seen a spike in donations to his defense fund.

Zimmerman –– who was charged with second degree-murder of unarmed teenTrayvon Martin –- was ordered back to jail Friday after prosecutors revealed that he had enough funds to post bail, ABC reports.

His wife had told the court that the couple couldn’t afford bail, but jailhouse tapes indicate otherwise.

According to the news source, Zimmerman has about $193,000 in his defense fund, of which $20,000 has been spent on living expenses, hotels and security. Since being ordered back to jail, Zimmerman has seen an increase in contributions upwards of $1,000 a day.

It’s not again like they were trying to hide the money or leave with the money,” Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, told ABC. “They just had it… and felt like they needed to secure themselves.”


Trayvon Martin Case: Witnesses Change Accounts, Which Could Hurt Zimmerman


 

May 23, 2012 Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Zimmermanwounds

George Zimmerman’s self-defense claim could be hurt by his own witnesses, who have changed their accounts since they were interviewed early on in the Trayvon Martin case.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that four witnesses’ statements regarding the Feb. 26 shooting changed significantly when they were interviewed a second time in March. The statements are included in the collection of evidence officially released by the State Attorney’s Office last week.

 

 

Here is an overview of the key changes in their accounts, as reported by the Sentinel.

Witness 2A young woman who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes community, where Trayvon was shot, was interviewed twice by Sanford police and once by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

She told authorities that she had taken out her contact lenses just before the incident. In her first recorded interview with Sanford police four days after the shooting, she told lead Investigator Chris Serino, “I saw two guys running. Couldn’t tell you who was in front, who was behind.”

She stepped away from her window, and when she looked again, she “saw a fistfight. Just fists. I don’t know who was hitting who.”

A week later, she added a detail when talking again to Serino: During the chase, the two figures had been 10 feet apart.

That all changed when she was reinterviewed March 20 by an FDLE agent. That time, she recalled catching a glimpse of just one running figure, she told FDLE Investigator John Batchelor, and she heard the person more than saw him.

I couldn’t tell you if it was a man, a woman, a kid, black or white. I couldn’t tell you because it was dark and because I didn’t have my contacts on or glasses. … I just know I saw a person out there.”

 

Witness 12 was interviewed on March 20, saying she “didn’t know which one” was on top of the other during the scuffle. Six days later, she said she was sure it was Zimmerman on top, the Sentinel reported.

Witness 6 lived close to where the incident occurred. On the night of the shooting, he told investigators that Martin was on top,just throwing down blows on the guy, MMA-style,” the paper reported. He also noted that Zimmerman was calling for help. But three weeks later, the witness said he wasn’t sure who was calling for help.

Witness 13 said he spotted Zimmerman with “blood on the back of his head,” he told police. Zimmerman allegedly told the witness that Martin “was beating up on me, so I had to shoot him.” In two interviews after that one a month later, the witness described Zimmerman’s demeanor as nonchalant, “… More like, ‘Just tell my wife I shot somebody’ like it was nothing.”

The witnesses are expected to be interviewed at least once more before Zimmerman’s trial.

This week, security video was released showing Trayvon Martin at a Sanford, Fla. 7-Eleven the night he died. The teen purchased a bag of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea, a short time before he was killed.

The evidence from that night — and the dialogue surrounding it — has grown increasingly complex. Last week, it was revealed that Zimmerman really did sustain injuries to his face and head during the incident. In addition, information from Martin’s autopsy report was leaked just one day after medical records from Zimmerman’s family physician were released.

ABC News reported that the teen had traces of THC, the drug found in the marijuana plant, in his system the night of the shooting.

Zimmerman has been charged with shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on the evening of Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer called 911 and told a police dispatcher that the teen, who was returning from a trip to a nearby convenience store, “looked suspicious.” After an altercation, Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest, subsequently telling local police that he acted in self-defense.

 

FLORIDA – Photos : Evidence from the Trayvon Martin case


Source : http://edition.cnn.com

Georges Zimmerman Injuries : see the photos here 

Charges expected against George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin shooting death


zimmerman charged with second- degree murder and his in custody

april 11 source : http://www.wxyz.com

AP) – A law enforcement official says that charges are being filed in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The official with knowledge of the investigation says a prosecutor will announce charges against George Zimmerman on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

live on CBS news at 6.00 p.m ET watch here

Zimmerman’s arrest is also expected soon.

The official didn’t know the charge and spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.

George Zimmerman seeks donations on his new website


breaking news 4.12 pm ET   George Zimmerman’s Attorney News Conference on CBS News

watch here : CBS

George Zimmerman’s attorneys said in a press conference this afternoon that they will no longer be representing him, because they have not been able to locate him and because he has rebuffed their counsel.

april 9, 2012 source : http://www.cbsnews.com

George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, has started a website “to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.”

The authenticity of the website,therealgeorgezimmerman.com, has been confirmed by his lawyers, according to CNN and other news outlets.

“On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life,” the website states.

The site includes a link to donate funds to help pay for Zimmerman’s lawyers and living expenses because of his “forced inability to maintain employment.”

“I thank you for your patience and I assure you, the facts will come to light,” the website goes on to say. Zimmerman then goes on to quote a philosophy attributed to sociologist James W. Loewen: “People have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight.”

Under a section titled “My race,” the website has a Thomas Paine quote: “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

The website does not contain Zimmerman’s account of his interaction with Trayvon Martin.

Special prosecutor: No grand jury for Trayvon Martin case
Trayvon Martin’s family asks feds to investigate
Investigator: Martin family “will get answers”
2 Fla. officials step aside in teen death probe

Meanwhile, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey has decided not to use a grand jury in her investigation into the shooting death of Martin.

The grand jury, scheduled by the case’s previous prosecutor, was set to convene on April 10.

A statement released by her office said that the decision “should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case.”

Corey was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott last month to take over the investigation. At that time she said she may not need a grand jury.

Corey, the state attorney for the Jacksonville area, was appointed to take over the case after the local state attorney, Norman Wolfinger, recused himself.

Monday’s statement said that the investigation continues, and declined further comment.

Demand “Justice” But Beware The Rush To Judgment In The Trayvon Martin Case


march 31, 2012 source : http://fairandunbalancedblog.blogspot.com

There are many disturbing questions surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin, many of them outlined here.  A rigorous independent investigation geared towards answering these questions and determining the extent to which George Zimmerman committed criminal acts is essential.  But as rallies today by civil rights groups and others “demand justice” and call for Zimmerman’s “immediate arrest,” I want to urge caution.

I remain very uncomfortable with the demands and petition drivescalling for Zimmerman’s prosecution (not to mention the vigilante response) based only on the selected facts to which we, the public, have become privy.

There are very good reasons to doubt the good faith of local law enforcement and the prosecuting agencies in this case, and we should certainly be demanding justice.  But we can’t know yet what a just response is.  We should await the findings of the special prosecutor — which may very well spur more legitimate questions and demands — rather than rush to judgment now based on the limited information filtered down to us from the media.

Far more often than not, in the wake of a tragic death it is the suspicious-looking African American in the hoodie for whom there is this kind of clamor for “swift justice.”