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George Zimmerman Launches Website

George Zimmerman Launches Website Orange County Jail / Miami Herald / AP Photos

To thank supporters, ask for donations.

George Zimmerman’s lawyers confirmed on Monday that the man who claims to have shot unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in self-defense in February has launched a website to help pay for his living expenses and legal fees. The site, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, was in and out of service on Monday as online users flocked with interest. Zimmerman thanks his supporters, and says that the facts in the case will “come to light.” The site links to a PayPal account where supporters can donate because of what Zimmerman calls his “forced inability to maintain employment.”

Read it at MSNBC

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Trayvon Supporters Close Police Dept.

Trayvon Supporters Close Police Dept. Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel / MCT

Sanford precinct shuts down for five hours.

Six protesters donned hoodies and forced the closure of the Sanford Police Department on Monday, asking for more attention to be paid by authorities to the Trayvon Martin case. The act of civil disobedience gained the demonstrators a community-forum meeting, set for April 19, to discuss the case. The protesters, part of the group the Dream Defenders, said the police in Sanford had made little effort to find evidence that would convict shooter George Zimmerman in the case that has consumed national attention. The protesters blocked the doors of the department, forcing its closure for much of the late morning and early afternoon.

Read it at Orlando Sentinel

Legal

No Grand Jury in Trayvon Case

No Grand Jury in Trayvon Case Mike Segar / Reuters

Prosecutor will decide whether or not to charge shooter.

The special prosecutor tasked with deciding whether to press charges against the man who shot Trayvon Martin has decided not to hand the case to a grand jury. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey will now decide whether or not to press charges against shooter George Zimmerman. "We want to believe that this would be a positive sign that the prosecutor has enough information to arrest Trayvon Martin's killer," said the attorney for Martin's family. Meanwhile, Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton said that she's "prayerful" that Zimmerman will be arrested.

Read it at USA Today

Black youth are drowning in a perfect storm of neglect, poverty, and mindless violence, writes Mansfield Frazier, and it’s about time we stopped playing petty politics with young lives.

The killing of Trayvon Martin has focused the attention of conservatives on the high rate of homicides in urban communities, but only as a means of deflecting attention away from George Zimmerman. Right-wing commentators have suddenly become deeply concerned with black-on-black street killings, asking why we’re being “distracted” by Martin. This ignores the obvious: everyone knows who Trayvon’s killer is, and he has yet to be arrested.

Conservatives peddling this line are trying to suggest that young blacks are intrinsically equipped to fail and to damage one another and that blacks don’t care when young blacks are done in by other blacks. All of this is simply untrue and mean-spirited.

As Randall Robinson wrote, “There’s nothing wrong with us, something was done to us.”

That “something” was more than 300 years of the most inhumane and brutal form of slavery ever perpetrated by one group of human beings on another. And the remnants of those dark centuries still haunt blacks here in America in the form of abject poverty, low achievement, and endemic violence in poor communities. While neither the current generation of whites nor their parents or grandparents participated in the brutality perpetrated by their more-distant ancestors, many continue to benefit from its effects, and not nearly enough have engaged in any efforts to ameliorate the lingering effects of slavery. A debt is owed to blacks, even if it’s uncollectible and never paid.

No group of people ever willingly allows its young people to devour themselves as senselessly as young black males are currently doing in America. These youths are drowning in a perfect storm of neglect, poverty, and mindless violence. If there were an easy solution to the high rate of violence among young men of color, the elders of the black community, criminologists, and social scientists would have “solved” the problem decades ago.

A young child holds a firearm

Illustration: Jim McGuire / Getty Images

But if pointed barbs from small-minded conservative commentators are what it takes to spur the country into action, then so be it. The point is to solve the problem and not play petty politics with young black lives.

STAND UP

Bill Cosby Weighs In on Trayvon

Bill Cosby Weighs In on Trayvon Peter Kramer / NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Calls for greater gun control.

The problem is clear, legendary comedian Bill Cosby told reporters: “When you carry a gun, you mean to harm somebody, kill somebody.” In his first public comments on the February shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Cosby said it is imperative that guns be taken out of the hands of neighborhood watchmen. “Without a gun, I don’t see Mr. Zimmerman approaching Trayvon by himself,” the Cosby Show star said. “The power-of-the-gun mentality had him unafraid to confront someone. Even police call for backup in similar situations.” The humorist is known for his warm style of comedy, and over the past decade has taken public stances on issues affecting the African-American community.

Read it at The Washington Times

APOLOGY

Trayvon Call Edit ‘Not Deliberate’

Trayvon Call Edit ‘Not Deliberate’ J Pat Carter / AP Photo

Says NBC.

NBC can’t unring this bell. After airing an edited segment of George Zimmerman’s 911 call from the night the Florida neighborhood watch captain shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the network apologized Saturday. The edited version of the call, which made it appear that Zimmerman identified Martin as black before being prompted by the emergency dispatcher, was “a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call,” NBC News president Steve Capus said Saturday. According to an internal NBC probe, a producer made the editing call.

Read it at Reuters

A new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll finds that whites and blacks have very different views on Trayvon Martin and the progress being made by African-Americans under Barack Obama.

A new Newsweek/Daily Beast Poll finds that America is facing a deepening level of racial division and polarization.

USA-FLORIDA/SHOOTING

Members of the New York City Council wear "hoodie" sweatshirts as they stand together on the steps of City Hall in New York, March 28, 2012 during a news conference and action to call for justice in the February 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. (Mike Segar / Reuters)

Majorities of both whites (72%) and blacks (89%) believe the country is divided by race, the poll finds. But twice as many blacks (40%) as whites (20%) say it is very divided. And just 19 percent of whites say that racism is a big problem in America, vs. 60 percent of blacks.

Meanwhile, the killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin has further polarized America along racial lines, the Newsweek/Daily Beast Poll finds. In the survey, whites are divided over whether they think Martin’s death was racially motivated. Thirty-five percent of whites say Martin’s death was racially motivated, while 30 percent say Zimmerman acted in self-defense and 35 percent are not sure. African-Americans, however, are convinced it was racially motivated (80% vs. 2%).

Whites also are divided on the question of whether Martin was targeted because he was a young black man–41 percent say yes, while 34 percent say no and 21 percent are not sure. Blacks are convinced he was targeted because he was a young black man (85% vs. 4%).

There also is a significant split over President Obama’s handling of the Trayvon Martin controversy—with a majority (52%) of whites saying they disapprove of the way he has handled the shooting while only 38 percent approve.

Blacks say the opposite—with near unanimous (87% vs. 5%) approval for the president’s handling of the shooting.

Nearly four years after the election of the nation’s first African-American president, majorities of both whites and African Americans surveyed say that race relations in the country have either stayed the same or gotten worse. Sixty-three percent of whites and 58 percent of African-Americans say race relations have either stayed the same or worsened—while only 28 percent of whites and 38 percent of African-Americans say they have gotten better.

CHILLING

Armed Neo-Nazis Patrol Sanford

Prepared for “race riot” in Trayvon Martin case.

A group of Detroit-based neo-Nazis has taken to patrolling the streets of Sanford, Fla., where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in late February. A representative for the group said they are not there to incite violence but to show solidarity with the white community in case of a race riot. They noted that the $10,000 bounty put on George Zimmerman by the New Black Panther Party is evidence that there could be racial violence. Zimmerman has yet to be arrested or charged in the killing, but public outcry for his arrest has spread across the country.

Read it at Huffington Post

DISAGREE

Poll: Trayvon Shows Racial Divide

Poll: Trayvon Shows Racial Divide Angel Valentin / Getty Images

52 percent of whites said race made no difference.

A new poll conducted by USA Today/Gallup shows a huge divide between blacks and whites in their views about the Trayvon Martin shooting. Among blacks, 73 percent believe George Zimmerman, the alleged shooter who killed Martin on Feb. 26, would have been arrested if Martin was white, while only 33 percent of whites agreed. When asked whether race made a difference in the case, 52 percent of whites said no.

Read it at USA Today

RACIAL DIVIDE

Hispanics Like Zimmerman

We’re obsessed with genealogy because our roots have tangled, and mingled.

People like purity. They also enjoy using easy identity categories, especially if they can be differentiated from each other. But from what we now know of George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, he is a sum of hodgepodge parts: Jewish, Catholic, white, and Peruvian. No wonder the press had trouble deciding whether to identify him as “white,” "Hispanic,” or “a white Hispanic.”

George Zimmerman

From what we now know of George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Stanford, Florida, he is a sum of hodgepodge parts: Jewish, Catholic, white, and Peruvian. (Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast)

That accumulation of identities is already a sine qua non when speaking of Hispanics, like Zimmerman. Most Latinos are a mix. That’s why the term mestizaje is ubiquitous in Latin America: it not only denotes those who had Spanish as well as indigenous parents, but describes a complex process of racial commingling.

Hispanics aren’t a race but a multiracial minority group, much like Zimmerman is a multi-background individual. To be Hispanic—a very modern construct, and a self-identified one—a person must have been in the United States for an extended period of time, and have roots in a Spanish-speaking country (which is why Brazilians are not Hispanics). When asked to identify by race, and after being alerted that “Hispanic” is not a racial term, a majority of respondents to a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity, said they were white. That is, the Latinos interviewed preferred to be counted as whites, and not as blacks—in part an expression of the racism within our community, where many see black as the second, and worse, option. Plus, the survey also established that statistically, the number of Latinos marrying outside the Hispanic community is on the rise, and that such crossover isn’t seen negatively within it.

But according to the Pew survey, 51 percent of Latinos prefer to describe themselves by their country of origin. The terms Hispanic and Latino, the report notes, are “unique to the U.S. … not widely used elsewhere.” And, the survey shows, most Hispanics identify themselves as Mexicans, Cubans, Dominicans, and so on.

It’s important to look at these findings through a historical lens. The popular idea of Hispanics as a single, homogenized group began in the early 1970s, and was formalized in 1976, when Congress passed a law mandating the Census collect information on Hispanics  (Latino was added as a synonym on the Census in 2000).

In 1980, Americans were asked for the first time not only to identify by race, but also by ethnicity: Hispanic, or Not Hispanic—14.6 million people identified as Hispanic, and everything changed in the decade that followed: by acknowledging the common link, Hispanics found economic power and a political agenda. Still, Cubans were mostly white, anti-Castro refugees living in the Northeast and Florida, whereas Mexicans were mestizo and working class, living in the Southwest and with a less defined ideology. This division generated much tension.

Developments

Lawyers: Zimmerman Whispered ‘Punks’

Lawyers: Zimmerman Whispered ‘Punks’ Mario Tama / Getty Images

Before shooting Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman has reportedly told his lawyers that he whispered “punks,” not a racial slur, before he shot and killed Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. Earlier reports from audio of the 911 call had some claiming that Zimmerman used a racial slur, but forensic audio experts agreed that the word was “punks.” CNN independently reviewed the high-quality audiotapes, but could not reach a consensus on the word or phrase Zimmerman used.

Read it at CNN

Trayvon Martin

Sanford’s Original Sin, and America’s

City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr. tries to account for Sanford’s long, ugly history.

It could happen anywhere.

Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr., the first African-American city manager of Sanford, Florida, is a man stuck between a rock and a hard place as he tries to defend the town where Trayvon Martin was gunned down while maintaining his credibility with local residents of color and the national media.

Norton Bonaparte Jr.

Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. looks on during a press conference about the Trayvon Martin controversy at city hall in Sanford, Florida on March 27, 2012. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Bonaparte has managed to come off as honest—at least as honest as the manager of a city attempting to dodge a huge civil lawsuit can be—about Sanford’s racial history, and the ugly relationship over the years between the police and the city’s residents of color.

In his first press conference after the killing (on March 22) Bonaparte stated “This is a difficult time for this community, and a very difficult time for out nation …  what the city of Sanford wants more than anything else for the Travon Martin family is justice.”

The quandary Norton Bonaparte finds himself in, however, is how to square the historic, allopatric mistreatment of minorities at the hands of police, with his seemingly sincere efforts to allow a through and professional investigation of the Sanford department go forth—an investigation that might prove damning in terms of how the police have long operated in this small Florida city. 

In Sanford, it’s an original sin, going back to the town’s founder and namesake, Henry Shelton Sanford.

The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly describes Sanford as “a failed orange grower turned lobbyist who, in the 19th century, abetted a Belgian king’s bloody colonial adventure in the Congo that left millions of Africans dead,” and “an ardent proponent of sending black Americans to Africa.”

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Unarmed Civilians Killed by Cops

Trayvon

NBC: Sorry About Editing 911 Call

NBC: Sorry About Editing 911 Call Orange County Jail / Miami Herald / AP Photos

Full transcript reveals dispatcher asked Zimmerman about race.

NBC issued an official apology for running an edited version of George Zimmerman's 911 call, blaming the change on “an error made in the production process that we deeply regret.” The version of the call NBC ran had Zimmerman saying: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” In fact, Zimmerman said: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” The dispatcher then asked, “OK, and this guy—is he black, white, or Hispanic?”

Read it at The Washington Post

article

Sanford’s Racist Past

Michael Daly recalls the dark story about the city where Trayvon Martin was killed.

The Florida town where Trayvon Martin met his death bears the name of its founder, a failed orange grower turned lobbyist who, in the 19th century, abetted a Belgian king’s bloody colonial adventure in the Congo that left millions of Africans dead.

Henry Sanford was also an ardent proponent of sending black Americans to Africa.

“The ground to draw the gathering electricity from the black cloud spreading over the southern states,” he termed it.

The Congo, Sanford said, would encourage “the enterprise and ambition of our colored people in more congenial fields than politics.”

Despite such sentiments, the city still proudly bears his name. Sanford, the city, honors Sanford, the man, by maintaining a library and museum in his memory, commemorating a racist who came to Florida as the sole heir of a hugely successful brass-tacks manufacturer in Connecticut.

Henry Sanford’s own business efforts were a series of failures that included the orange groves he planted in a 23-square-mile tract on the shore of Lake Monroe, purchased in 1870 for 30 cents an acre. He established the town of Sanford there with the hope that it would become “the Gate City of South Florida.”

Henry Shelton Sanford

Mathew Brady / Library of Congress

But Sanford proved to be no better an orange grower in Florida than he had been a cotton grower in South Carolina, a sugar grower in Louisiana, a shipbuilder in Maine, a mine investor in Nevada, a railroad speculator in Minnesota, or a real-estate developer in the Midwest.

Controversy

Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman said he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed.

The Daily Beast Reports

Zimmerman Blows It

Zimmerman Blows It

The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin has a whole new set of problems after the court found out he lied at his bond hearing, writes Mansfield Frazier.

Stand Your Ground

Shoot First, Learn The Law Later

Law Enforcement

Time to End Racial Profiling?

Zimmerman Apologizes to Trayvon’s Family

George Zimmerman took the stand during his bond hearing Friday, issuing a statement to the Martin family. ‘I’m sorry for the loss of your son,’ he told the court before answering a series of questions about the case.

we-are-all-trayvon-moss

We Are All Trayvon Martin

We must dismantle the fraternity of racism and build an altar of love and justice, writes the pastor of Obama’s former church.

guest-trayvon-wilkinson-teaser

Trayvon Martin Remembered in Paint

Chaz Guest captures the Trayvon Martin tragedy. He talks about honoring Martin's legacy.

Why the Right Is Smearing Trayvon

Why the Right Is Smearing Trayvon

Conservatives are using the teenager’s tweets, hoodie, and school suspension to blame him for his own death—and to show that racism was not a factor, says Michelle Goldberg.

The Man Who Shot Trayvon Martin

The Man Who Shot Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman, the man who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, aspired to enter law enforcement.