Tales from the Thin Blue Line 27

Reporting on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman crime incident began with the exact same elements as all inter-racial confrontations in this country: People in control of the information highway instantly get in front of the telling of the story. It is well understood that contentious people who insist on getting their own way can be anarchic and brutal in their methods. It’s the main, monstrous, by-any-means-necessary tactic, where you develop a campaign of misinformation and spread it at light speed to the masses.

I saw it throughout my police career of more than 30 years, and having worked on some delicate investigations, I actually spoke with people who knew the inside story of how this approach was developed and perfected; how it was transferred into a virtual textbook format. How it is always ready for use by an organized network of people throughout the nation who are prepared to go into action the moment an appropriate event occurs.

One can review a known list of events similar to Martin/Zimmerman and quickly see the similarities in how the “stories” are developed. Those same researchers must also be careful about what they say and whom they say it to. There are some who will strike at you if you cross their lines.

The factual study of the moment-by-moment progression of certain crime scenes is purposely delayed by demagogic providers of their story line, so that they can act first and score the kind of points with the public that they want- that they need, in order to further their agenda. People with good intentions and a pure desire to know the truth are, in effect, poisoned by the often-used tactic of purposely inaccurate reporting throughout the “mass media.”

The mass media to which I refer is mostly led by the digital and 24-hour news cycle, because of its ability to instantly reach everyone and anyone at any given moment en mass. The number of corrupt and – I’ll say the word again – anarchic individuals and groups, with sophisticated schemes that are launched, and even assisted by some members of the professional mainstream news media, is astonishing.

The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman crime scene is not complicated. Simply described, a neighborhood watch person – an organization I grew to despise simply because of the inevitability of a case like this – followed a person, Trayvon Marin, through a gated community because Mr. Martin looked “suspicious.” That’s where everything went wrong.

Predictably, zealots interceded to declare, without reasonable evidence, that Zimmerman was a white man who was profiling a person of color. The problem, from the instant the shooting became public, was that little to no evidence to the contrary was even sought, much less published, by many of those who are officially responsible for reporting the story. George Zimmerman was arbitrarily declared a skulking white racist who was looking for people to harass.

Certainly, the history and number of wanton, violent acts of discrimination – including genocide – against minorities in this country is beyond horrific. That is unquestionable. Until fairly recently, the victims of these atrocities had virtually no legal recourse. At least nothing that was pursued by authorities. Memories of past events and an insistence – even without evidence – that such conditions still prevail to the same degree, muddies the waters of current investigations.

Such claims are made and accepted without an iota of verification. As was previously stated, there are people who are constantly primed to locate and exploit these events before any real investigation has been pursued. The majority of people know this is true. But again, you’d better not say it publicly or, as was also previously noted, you can get hurt.

What I just wrote could be part of an outline for an essay on many, many cases where a racial profiling theme is the main attraction. It most often requires the actual death of an allegedly profiled person to gain the mind-bending attention that was drawn by the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman matter. But even much lesser ones, including ones that are ultimately proven false, are placed and held for a lengthy time before the eyes of a relatively uninformed public.

George Zimmerman claimed he saw a young African American male walking through the area in such a way as to draw the attention of an “investigator” like him. He insists that he did not pursue the matter because he was a racist messing with a black guy, but because he could possibly prevent a nefarious act. He contacts 911. After hearing his description, the operator tells him to back off, that the police are on the way.

I know what I would have done. I’d have backed off and waited for the police, so that I could point out Mr. Martin, and then let the authorities handle it. Neighborhood watch people are there to watch, and act only in an emergency, the way any citizen might choose react to a suspicious character.

According to my understanding of the case, “Therein lies the rub.” How does a citizen, who does not possess the proper information or training, presume to make a decision about whether certain actions by a person are or are not reasonable? If Zimmerman is telling the truth, that Mr. Martin was by reasonable standards a real threat, is there anything that Zimmerman could do to handle the matter, especially if things go wrong? Is it worth the effort to personally confront one whom you consider a “suspect,” given the range of difficulties likely to ensue? Due to Zimmerman’s lack of real training and authority, he had, at best, very limited authority to take action.

At worst…

Welcome to the End Of The Earth, in a manner of speaking- the literal end for Trayvon Martin, and a massive, life-altering change for George Zimmerman. Determining whether Zimmerman deserves official punishment turned into a nightmare, made worse by professional people who “know better.”

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and arguments over whether Zimmerman could legally lay claim to possessing that status at the moment of the shooting, will always be strongly challenged. The initial interference by some people in the investigation prevents that. Zimmerman had injuries from the confrontation and claims to have shot Martin in self defense after calling out numerous times for help. Zimmerman was still charged with a crime for the shooting. Both sides have grist for their respective mills. It goes without saying that Trayvon Martin’s shooting by George Zimmerman is by no means a 2+2=4 type of example.

I believe that virtually all cases with strong contentions such as these reach this end – where not even a judge, jury, and an appellate court can claim to have absolute, unchallengeable facts that prove the truth. As a matter of fact, the situation did play out that way: Zimmerman was charged with murder, which means a trained, professional prosecuting attorney saw enough probable cause for an indictment.

Here’s where our influence of the media coverage was made clear. First, A jury found Zimmerman not guilty for many reasons, including a lack of evidence. However, despite Zimmerman acquiring an innocent verdict, said jury later stated that all of the jurors felt Zimmerman “got away with murder.” They felt they owed Trayvon Martin’s family an apology for not convicting Zimmerman, even though they did not even have enough evidence to convict him. It was because of the unending barrage of misinformation from media outlets that even the jury charged with sentencing the accused- a position of great importance, was influenced by what they had absorbed from outside sources…a big “no no” in the judicial system.

Oh, and let’s not forget the endearing little fact that the juror said Zimmerman should not have even been indicted in the first place – that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him. But yet, she felt bad that he got away with murder


Despite the circus surrounding it, business went on as usual preceding the verdict. The judge signed the acquittal papers, even though he may also have disagreed with the jury’s finding. It became mind bending. In this case, the jury’s verdict is in fact being appealed, which means a higher authority could demand a new trial. There could, therefore, be more succeeding court appeals. Another different “ending.”

Experienced people in the field constantly see things similar to this – where a jury is horribly conflicted, yet makes a final decision, instead of declaring an impasse.

That brings us back to the incident itself. So much power and pressure was brought by uninformed people and organizations that it was easier to indict Zimmerman than deal with the volcanic eruption that would have ensued. People could deny that all they want; that’s what it boiled down to. He was quickly found not guilty, and the Martin family almost immediately accepted a million dollar settlement from the Retreat At Twin Lakes Homeowner’s Association.

Aside: I’d like to see an investigation into where that money so quickly came from. The truth. There are horror stories about things like that from other cases. None proven. I personally heard a few; all presented as improvable “what if” tales – from sneering faces with gleaming eyes.

As far as accusations against mainstream media sources, a lawsuit filed by George Zimmerman against NBC for falsely accusing him of racial profiling and using a racial epithet during the encounter with Martin, was thrown out on June 20th of this year, and revived on July 22nd. Along with their denial, NBC issued an apology and fired at least one TV news reporter. Hmm. No matter what ultimately happens, millions of people will be inclined to think that NBC is trying to make everything just go away.

The lawsuit deals with wording used by NBC during the coverage of the case- Mr. Zimmerman, though Hispanic, was suddenly being labeled a “white Hispanic”- a term never used by professional media outlets until that case. It would be the equivalent of them labeling a man of mixed, African American heritage as a “White African.” Can you imagine any news outlet getting away with that?

His brother said he was told – on the sly – that some news outlets lightened George’s photo in their publications to keep up the dominance of the white aspect. Others say the word “white” was kept in order to remind people of the racial angle and alleged hatred – that it would cost money for some in the business to lose the racial component- a crown for the head of a demented legal monster.

I know for a fact that professionals in the field are convinced that Zimmerman did not have “stand your ground” conditions. Even if he did, some say, he still did not have the right to use deadly force. Mr. Martin had not pushed things to that point, they say. But some in the legal profession think Zimmerman did have the right to shoot- a citizen (Zimmerman) who lacks expertise is supposed to make a life-and-death decision when a form of personal destruction looms in the background?

Here’s my solution: Either conduct an overhaul of the neighborhood watch system, along with proper training and supervision, or get rid of it. The probability of major problems is multiplied many times if things are not changed.

Rob Riley

This is number 27 in an ongoing series from Rob.

He spent thirty-two years as a Milwaukee police officer: seven years doing undercover narcotics investigations and twenty-two years as a major crimes detective. Writing and reading have been lifelong passions, and he began by writing short stories more than thirty years ago.

Rob is published by Orange Hat Press

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