From the moment the Trayvon Martin shooting rose to the national spotlight, the story became entangled in the nation’s diseased dialogue on race. Racial arsonists like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson descended on the scene at the head of the left-wing lynch mob to force a verdict of guilty on Zimmerman because he was allegedly white. Without the benefit of evidence, George Zimmerman became a caricature of everything lynchers like Sharpton and Jackson claim America to be — hateful, bigoted and indifferent to the loss of African-American life.
Thus, provoked by years of race-baiting from the left, many conservatives have responded in kind, indulging in a parallel demonization campaign of Trayvon Martin designed as a protest against past injustices by civil rights racists against whites (think no further than the destruction of Paula Deen and the acquittal of O.J. Simpson). In an effort to right decades of racial wrongs, many conservatives have hastily embraced caricatures of Trayvon Martin, painting him as a vicious street thug who deserved his fate. Quite apart from the merits of the legal case, this unseemly effort shows the power of the racist left over the mind of the nation. A look at how this works will hopefully serve as a corrective.
One prominent example of anti-Martin slander is a chain email currently being circulated on the Internet. The photo that corresponds to the text is visible above:
Do you know who this is?
It is Little Trayvon Martin…! At 17 yrs of age.
For those of us who thought we were well informed and weren’t…..quite the reality check. That old adage applies here: “there are two sides to every story.”
We don’t always get the truth from the media. One of my favorite rants – the liberal controlled media, television news, newspapers, magazines, radio; all continue to show 12 year old Trayvon; NOT 17 year old Trayvon.
In fact, there are plenty of 17-year-old pictures of Trayvon available but this one (above) is not one of them. It is a photo of Jayceon Terrell Taylor, also known as “The Game,” a 32-year-old rapper from Compton, CA. Yes, Trayvon had tattoos but they didn’t look anything like this. There were two of them. One was a tattoo on his chest of two praying hands with pearls and the names of his grandmother and great-grandmother. The other was a tattoo on his wrist of his mother’s name.
Family photos of the teen shown here give a much different impression of Martin, who is seen on horseback, wearing a jacket, tie and glasses, and posing with other members of his family. Friends and family remember him as warm and funny, as well as a standout athlete with an enormous appetite. Far from being a gangbanger, Trayvon grew up in a close knit middle class family despite a divorce. His mother is a college graduate who has worked for the Miami-Dade housing authority for twenty-four years. His older brother is a well-spoken, mild-mannered senior at Florida International University. His father, a truck driver, maintained a close relationship with his son, even after the divorce. The boys regularly spent weekends at their father’s house and often were there during the week. The night he was killed, Trayvon asked his father’s permission to go to the store for the Skittles and an Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail.
According to the many texts about Trayvon, he towered over Zimmerman. Thus the chain email alleged: “In reality ‘little Trayvon’ at the time of his death stood almost 6’2′ tall and weighed 175 muscular pounds.” But according to the autopsy report Martin was actually 5’11″ tall and weighed 158 pounds, while Zimmerman was only three inches shorter and weighed 200 pounds.
Trayvon’s football coach, Jerome Horton, characterized him as a fine young man, noting that his father attempted to keep him in line when he acted up. “I’ve watched his dad take him off the field because he messed up in school. We’d beg and plead, but he would just say, ‘No, he isn’t going to play.’” On a recent “Nancy Grace Show,” Martin’s coach said he had seen Trayvon the week before the shooting. Trayvon told him he was quitting football because he wanted to go to aviation school and become a pilot. The coach said black people don’t become pilots. Martin replied, “Then I’m going to be the first.”
Trayvon had incidents of misbehavior, but none as serious as Zimmerman, who was jailed for attacking a police officer. On the other hand, the anti-Trayvon literature, of which “The Game” email is representative, portray him as an of out-of-control gangster with a criminal record, who sold drugs and “had numerous run-ins with authorities (both at school and local police).” He is described as a “drug dealing … tattooed thug whose name on one of his Facebook profiles was ‘Wild Nigga’ [and] who ‘finds’ jewelry and burglary tools on the way to school.”
But Martin’s documented “numerous run-ins with authorities” show him to be little more than a rambunctious teenager. They consist of three suspensions from school. The first one, according to his parents, was for tardiness and truancy. His second was for graffiti, when he and some of his friends wrote “W.T.F.” on a school locker. The day after that incident, a school police investigator, who had seen Martin on a surveillance camera, went through his book bag in search of the graffiti marker. He discovered 12 pieces of jewelry, in addition to a watch and a large flathead screwdriver he described as a “burglary tool,” according to a Miami-Dade Schools Police report obtained by the Miami Herald. Martin said the jewelry belonged to a friend. The jewelry was impounded and Martin’s official suspension was for the graffiti.
The third suspension was for possession of a bag with marijuana residue and a “marijuana pipe,” as reported by Miami-Dade police. Martin was not criminally charged, but the school suspended him for ten days due to its zero-tolerance drug policy. Half the populations of private schools in Beverly Hills have probably seen more serious drug use than this.
Martin has also been accused of slapping a bus driver in the face and being “almost arrested.” The basis for the claim is his Twitter account, since taken down. Martin tweeted under the handle “NO_LIMIT_NIGGA.” According to WAGIST.com, a message was sent to Martin on February 21st that read, “yu ain’t tell me yu swung on a bus driver.” The message was tweeted five days before Martin was killed. No evidence has ever emerged that Martin assaulted a bus driver, yet the story continues through rumor and misinformation.
That’s the extent of Martin’s “record.” Unlike Zimmerman, Martin had no police record.
The Game photo is far from the only fake image of Martin to have surfaced. One of those fakes was allegedly of Martin wearing “county orange” flipping off the camera with both hands, with his pants sagging down around his waist. The photo was posted on Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy.com, a conservative website. The young man in the picture was indeed of a Trayvon Martin, but it was another Trayvon Martin who is alive and well and whose relatives live in Savannah, GA. Twitchy.com issued an apology.
Perhaps Trayvon Martin isn’t a candidate for sainthood. The 17-year-old used foul language, made obscene gestures on camera, probably smoked marijuana, and engaged in other troublesome teenage behavior. But he was no gangster. Perhaps he was too volatile that night when Zimmerman followed him. Perhaps Zimmerman did fear for his life in the scuffle that ensued. Perhaps the failure of the prosecution to establish that it wasn’t a case of self-defense means that Zimmerman should be acquitted. Nonetheless, what happened should be seen as a tragedy involving two well-meaning individuals who acted without fully appreciating the possible consequences of their actions. It should not be seen as an acting out of the nation’s melodrama on race. That is reserved for the crowds of spectators who have clamored for a verdict before the trial and distorted the facts but who, in a more healthy time, would have left the wheels of justice to turn on their own.
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