Trayvon Martin’s shooter George Zimmerman has not yet been charged with a crime, but with the aid of a sensationalist media and racial agitators like Al Sharpton, he has already been tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion. Now, the hate-filled public lynch mob wants him dead, too.
The Internet now teems with death threats against Zimmerman, many of them explicit. A Twitter account called “KillZimmerman” has been active for nearly a week. The page shows a mug shot of Zimmerman, a bull’s-eye around his head, and reads: “This Page Is 4 Da Ppl Who Believe Zimmerman Should Be Shot Dead In The Street.”
The site features messages like the following:
“Every1 is going to die one day sum ppl deserve to die today.”
Calls for Zimmerman’s murder also appeared on other twitter sites. One, since taken down, read:
“Ima get a group of niggas to KILL George Zimmerman ( the fat ass racist ass white man who killed Trayvon Martin ) ! He deserves to DIE !!!!— Couldnt Care Less (@Simply_Reiona) March 24, 2012″
Black militant groups have also tried to incite Zimmerman’s murder. The New Black Panther Party made news for offering a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman’s death and has circulated a “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” poster to inspire someone to commit the act. The message is apparently intended in earnest. Mikhail Muhummud, the group’s self-identified leader, has warned, “God dammit, he should be fearful for his life.” Yet another group, calling itself the New Black Liberation Militia, has announced that it will send its members to Orlando next week to “attempt a citizen’s arrest” of Zimmerman. A t-shirt has been marketed emblazoned with Zimmerman’s mugshot and the word “Pussy Ass Cracker.” Not surprisingly, in light of such threats, Zimmerman and his family have gone into hiding.
Even those with no connection to Zimmerman have become targets of the revenge mob. After director Spike Lee retweeted the home address of an elderly couple in Zimmerman’s home town of Sanford, Florida, apparently confusing their son William George Zimmerman with George Zimmerman, the couple was barraged with hate mail and harassed by the media, eventually having to flee their home to a hotel for safety. Although Lee has since apologized, the violent immediacy with which the couple became the victim of the Tayvon revenge seekers is revealing of the ferocity of the persecution.
Drowned out by the bloodlust is the due process to which Zimmerman is still entitled. While his self-appointed executioners don’t seem to care, he hasn’t been charged with anything yet. That may or may not change, depending on the facts of the case, but until these become known there is no justice in passing judgement on Zimmerman’s guilt, let alone in demanding his death. The fact that 70 percent of Americans now believe that Zimmerman should be arrested is a troubling commentary on the extent to which passions have been able to trump evidence.
Not the least of the tragedies of the Trayvon Martin shooting is that it has engendered exactly the kind of vigilante violence against which it was supposed to provide a cautionary tale, only this time Martin’s shooter may become the victim. “I just hope at one point everyone will go beyond the hate that they have,” Zimmerman’s father recently said of those screaming for his son’s murder. At that point maybe justice – the legal, not the mob variety – can take over.
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