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THANKS BUT NO THANKS

Walters Cancels Zimmerman Interview

Walters Cancels Zimmerman Interview

After he reportedly requested monthlong hotel stay.

On the heels of his interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, George Zimmerman was scheduled to chat with Barbara Walters on ABC’s The View—until Babs changed her mind. The talk show host had traveled to Florida with the intention of interviewing Zimmerman, but decided against it when Zimmerman’s interview conditions changed. “Mr. Zimmerman made a request that we could not, and could never, agree to,” an ABC News spokesman confirmed to The Orlando Sentinel. “So Barbara walked away.” Earlier on Thursday, the New York Post reported that the shooter of Trayvon Martin had said he would only do the interview if ABC paid for him and his wife to stay in a hotel for a month. On The View, Walters admitted that their meeting in Florida was “very odd” and “obviously disappointing,” and then congratulated Hannity for landing the exclusive.

Read it at The Orlando Sentinel

Latest Updates

Controversy

Leave Ebony Alone

The historically black publication is dedicating its entire September issue to Trayvon Martin—a move that has some conservatives riled up. Allison Samuels asks, what’s the big deal?

Ebony magazine finds itself in the hot seat for a series of covers dedicated to slain teenager Trayvon Martin.

The historically black publication took a bold stand with its September issue, dedicating it to stories about the Martin case and the issues it raised—race in America, “Stand Your Ground” laws, and the link. But it’s the covers that have set tongues wagging: four images of black male celebrities, such as director Spike Lee and NBA star Dwyane Wade, posing with their sons wearing hoodies accompanied with the headline “We Are Trayvon.”

Ebony Magazine

The unarmed Florida teenager was wearing a hoodie the night he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman as he walked home from a 7-11 last year. George Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, was tried for Martin’s murder but was found not guilty last month.

Right-wing and conservatives blogs have blasted Ebony for its Martin covers, claiming the magazine has not focused enough on so-called black-on-black crime. That accusation is simply untrue, say Ebony editors. The Chicago-based magazines regularly discusses any number of hot-button issues facing black Americans including violence in the inner cities.

Recently, in conjunction with the White House’s Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, the magazine launched a five part series entitled “Saving Our Sons.” The project will include several town hall meetings around the country meant to address the state of affairs of young black men.

On its Twitter page, Ebony poked fun at a supposed boycott called by conservatives. “We have so many Tea Party readers and followers. To lose all zero of them due to our September issue will be devastating.”

Desiree Rogers, the CEO of Johnson Publishing, the parent company of Ebony, and the former White House society secretary, offered a more diplomatic comment. “With over 11 million readers, we feel it’s imperative that we provide a platform for the most important issues impacting our communities to be discussed and heard,” said Rogers. “Ebony magazine has been the authoritative voice of African American issues for over 70 years.”

Reactions

Stunned in Sanford

Trayvon Martin lived in Miami, but the black community of the town where he was killed sees him as one of their own. Jacqui Goddard on their stoic reaction to the verdict.

It’s just a simple black granite slab, set into a small patch of brick paving at the side of Historic Goldsboro Boulevard, the heart of Sanford’s African-American community. Etched into it is the scantest of inscriptions: “Trayvon Martin, February 26, 2012.”

Service in Sanford

Tammy Haynes (left), Whitney Tillman (center), and Crystal Haynes react during a sermon of a youth service at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sanford, Florida, on July 14. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

There is no date of birth listed. For it is the 17-year-old’s death, and not his life, that means the most to this historic neighborhood, founded in 1891 by agricultural laborers as the second all-black town in Florida.

Martin was never a resident here, never one of the children put to bed at night listening to the sound of gunfire in the streets or peering out of their windows at the run-down, boarded-up public-housing blocks in this blight-ridden section of town.

But he died in Sanford, and his name, and the manner of his death, resonate with residents who view what happened to him as symbolic of their own social struggles and racial strife.

“Trayvon was one of us. He was part of us. He represents us,” says Oscar Redden, running the American flag up the pole outside the community-assistance center he runs here, helping people with substance-abuse problems, disabilities, and welfare woes. He stops the flag at half mast. “For Trayvon,” he explains.

The acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot Martin dead in his gated middle-income community last year after profiling him as a prowler who must be “up to no good,” has angered this already angry community, he said.

“How can you violate the law, be the aggressor, the provocateur, and wind up killing—but then say you did it in self-defense?” asks Redden. “Only in this country, in this atmosphere, can you do that,” he says, going on to lament a number of issues that trouble him and his community: perceived racial inequalities in the judicial system, racial profiling by police, a lack of attention by civic authorities to Goldsboro’s economic and social needs.

‘Reasonable Fear’

‘The Same Thing Is Happening’

Thirty years after the shooting that divided New York, the ‘subway vigilante,’ Al Sharpton & Curtis Sliwa talk to Harry Siegel and Filipa Ioannou about the Trayvon Martin case.

“I’m surprised,” said Bernhard Goetz, outside of his 20-story apartment building on Manhattan’s 14th Street, the same street he lived on back in 1984, when he shot four black teenagers on a downtown No. 2 subway train. “I’m surprised the same thing is happening 30 years later. It’s a different place, but the prosecution is the same.”

130709-geotz-zimmerman_tease

Bernard Goetz holds a news conference at New York's City Hall in this May 1990 photo. George Zimmerman leaves the courtroom on recess during the 15th day of his murder trial in Seminole circuit court June 28, 2013 in Sanford, Florida. (AP; Getty)

The man he says “the same thing is happening” to now, George Zimmerman, was just 1 year old in 1984, when Goetz, now 65, “stood his ground” against Barry Allen, Troy Canty, Darrell Cabey, and James Ramseur, friends who had come down from the Bronx to rob video-arcade change boxes. When the mild-looking electrical engineer, who’d been violently robbed before, got on the train at 14th Street, the four boys surrounded him and, after one of them asked him for five dollars, he unloaded his unlicensed revolver, hitting all four of them. He then fled through a tunnel before police arrived, and the identity of the white “subway vigilante” remained a mystery until he turned himself in to the New Hampshire police four days later, offering a dramatic confession that may have shaded into revenge fantasy. All four boys survived, though one was paralyzed, yet Goetz became a folk hero in the eyes of many New Yorkers and Americans at a time when urban crime was widely considered out of control, daylight muggings were commonplace, and the murder rate in Gotham was more than three times what it is today. After a riveting eight-week trial that captured national headlines, and hinged on the question of whether or not he had reason to fear for his life, Goetz was convicted only of criminal possession of a lethal weapon and was sentenced to just six months in prison.

Zimmerman, whose murder trial will conclude Friday when his defense offers its closing argument, was a neighborhood-watch captain in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.—a far cry from mid-1980s Manhattan—last Feburary when he confronted Trayvon Martin, a teenager with no criminal record or history of violent behavior. “These assholes, they always get away,” Zimmerman told a police dispatcher after spotting Martin—before he disregarded the dispatcher’s instructions and got out of his car, with a loaded gun, to confront the teenager who was returning home with a drink and Skittles from a trip to a convenience store during half-time of the NBA All-Star game. That confrontation ended with the two individuals fighting and Zimmerman shooting Martin, who died on the scene. The police, though, released Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense, after just a few hours—before they'd even conclusively identified his victim.

Thursday, the prosecution made an emotional appeal to the jury to convict Zimmerman.

Al Sharpton, who was a vocal critic of Goetz and who also played a leading role in making the Martin case a national story in the weeks after his death, nonetheless agreed with the subway shooter that the two incidents were similar. “When I started seeing the attacks on Trayvon, the criminalizing of wearing a hoodie and other slurs,” like noting the dead boy had smoked marijuana and talked on social networks about fights, said Sharpton, “I thought I was back 30 years ago. Even though Cabey and the others did have [criminal] pasts, Goetz didn’t know that when he shot them on that train. He criminalized them in his mind, those kids 30 years ago. Trayvon is being criminalized now and he doesn’t even have a criminal background and it’s the same kind of profiling.”

But Curtis Sliwa—the founder of the Guardian Angels, the multiracial red-beret-wearing urban patrol group whose members were ubiquitous on trains and elsewhere around 1980s New York, and a prominent ally of Goetz at the time—laughed at the comparison.

“Bernie couldn’t be more totally wrong,” said Sliwa. “He needs to chase some squirrels in the park. This has nothing at all to do with him, nothing in common.

On Trial

The Prosecution Rests

In an emotional speech that included a reference to Martin Luther King Jr., the state summed up its case against George Zimmerman. Jacqui Goddard reports from court.

Trayvon Martin died because George Zimmerman acted as a “wannabe cop” armed with “the equalizer,” jurors heard Thursday, as the prosecution showed a photograph of the teenager’s corpse and told them, “His body speaks to you even in death.”

George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman arrives for his trial at Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida, on July 11, 2013. (Pool photo by Gary W. Green)

In a dramatic and emotional closing speech by lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, the jury was urged to use their “God-given common sense” to find the defendant guilty of second-degree murder, because his misplaced opinion that Martin may have been a criminal was at the heart of the tragedy.

“A teenager is dead. He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions … Unfortunately, because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this earth,” said de la Rionda, his voice slightly cracking.

“He was wearing a hoodie. Last I heard, that’s not against the law, but in this man’s eyes he was up to no good. He presumed something, he followed him, he tracked him, because in the defendant’s mind this was a criminal and he was tired of criminals.”

Lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda made an emotional closing speech Thursday.

Zimmerman, who faces up to life in prison if convicted, stared ahead with a blank expression, blinking hard. Occasionally his eyes seemed to glisten. Behind him in the courtroom at Seminole Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida, sat his elderly parents, Gladys and Robert, holding hands.

On the opposite side of the courtroom, the victim’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, sitting with her ex-husband, Tracy Martin, sometimes averted her gaze as images of her son’s dead body appeared on the courtroom screen.

JUSTICE

Trayvon’s Parents Urge Law Change

Trayvon’s Parents Urge Law Change Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

Also announce fight to keep his school records private.

Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, on Friday called for a change to Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law—the measure George Zimmerman has used in defense of shooting and killng their teenage son. “We want to know what drugs were in [George Zimmerman’s] system that made him do the things he did,” their lawyer told reporters after a hearing regarding Trayvon’s school records. Trayvon’s parents “will stand by any ruling of the court,” their lawyer said, but they don’t think Trayvon’s school records should be relevant in George Zimmerman’s trial for second-degree murder, which will start June 10.

Read it at The Orlando Sentinel

Tables Turned

If Zimmerman Were Black

Trayvon Martin’s killer be given a primetime outlet to raise money for his defense if their racial identities had been different?

Making his first television network appearance last night on Fox News, a perfectly coifed George Zimmerman apologized for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin—while in the same breath admitted he’d do nothing different if he had the chance. As Zimmerman, who appeared dazed during parts of the interview, discussed the events that led to the death of an unarmed high-school student simply walking home from the 7-Eleven, it was difficult to imagine a similar chain of events occurring if the tables were turned.

Just prior to yesterday’s interview, Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara released a statement boldly admitting that part of the reason for the appearance on Fox was to raise money for his client’s defense. Zimmerman has already received a pretty staggering amount of donations since his arrest this past April. So much so that in June, his bail was revoked due to the fact he failed to report at least $150,000 in an online account donated from his many supporters. What if every criminal was allowed a prime time interview in order to raise money for his or her defense?

Let’s take it further. Imagine for just a moment if Zimmerman were a black man (Zimmerman is the product of a white father and Hispanic mother). He shoots and kills an unarmed white teenager because said teenager “appeared” to be acting suspicious in his neighborhood community one night. Though the now dead teenager has only a cell phone, Skittles, and iced tea on him, the black man who pulled the trigger not only gets to go home that very night, but he remains free for another 44 days, reportedly because of a self-defense law called “stand your ground.” Only marches and public outcry by white leaders lead to his arrest, but he isn’t in jail long. Even after it’s revealed that he wasn’t truthful with the court about his finances and ability to flee the country, he’s freed once again and then given an extended Hollywood-style interview on a top-rated news program to tell his ever changing story.

George Zimmerman

Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel / AP Photo

And Zimmerman’s story does change. The night of the shooting, he told the police dispatcher that Martin was running away in the rain, causing him to become concerned. Last night he told Fox News that the teen was not running but skipping in the rain. That’s a big difference.

Zimmerman and his lawyer also explained to Fox News that he didn’t ignore a Sanford police dispatcher’s clear instructions to stay in his car and not follow the young man with the hoodie running/skipping in the rain. Zimmerman, who lived in the community, said he got out of his vehicle not to follow Martin but to check the street name for the dispatcher. Shouldn’t a person so staunchly committed to safety, order, and the neighborhood watch know the street names in his own community?

Would anyone honestly give a 28-year-old black man the benefit of the doubt telling the same story when a Sanford police officer filed a report that night stating clearly that this tragedy was avoidable had Zimmerman just followed instructions and stayed in his car? Would Fox or any other major news channel dare give him 40 minutes to explain away the senseless death of someone’s child who’d done nothing but walk home from the store with a hoodie on while being black? What network would offer a black man a chance to “humanize” himself in an effort to raise more money for his defense for murdering someone whom he deemed “unfit” for his neighborhood but had committed no crime? And would thousands of strangers send money to support a black man who instead of showing real remorse to the parents of the teenager killed by saying he’d do anything to avoid their child dying at his hands, actually had the gall to say on TV that it was God’s will that the events of that night happened? As Trayvon Martin’s father Tracy said in a statement late last night, “We must worship a different God.’’

Imagine anyone being truly sympathetic to a black man who admitted he never once identified himself to the teenager as a member of the neighborhood watch, which may have given the teenager a very real reason to be afraid for his own life. It’s difficult to believe anyone would be so sympathetic if the tables were indeed turned, and the faces of the accused and the deceased were reversed. But sadly, George Zimmerman is and will continue to be a hero to far too many willing and ready to believe that an unarmed young black teenager minding his own business got exactly what he deserved when he was shot to death that February night.

The man charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin told Sean Hannity on Wednesday that he has no regrets about carrying his gun or getting out of his car on that fateful night. Watch more of the highlights from the bombshell interview.

George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February, gave his first public interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night—giving his side of a story that has captivated Americans. From Zimmerman’s claim that he was “walking very leisurely” to his description of when he reached for the gun, watch the most shocking moments from the interview.

Zimmerman I Did Not Feel Threatened

Zimmerman claimed that at one point Trayvon, who Zimmerman said had been cutting between houses and “walking very leisurely” for a rainy night, reached for something in his waistband—perhaps a weapon. Zimmerman says he thought Trayon was trying to intimidate him. But when Hannity directly asked if he felt threatened by the 17-year-old, Zimmerman said, “No, not particularly.”

Trayvon was “Skipping,” not Running

Apparently, much of the early confrontation was nonthreatening. Asked if there was “any chance” that maybe Martin was afraid of him, Zimmerman responded “No.” Why would the teenager start running away then? According to Zimmerman, the teen was not actually running, but “more was skipping, going away quickly.” However, Hannity pointed out that on the night in question, Zimmerman told the dispatcher that Martin was running.

Going for the Gun

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Zimmerman: All 'God's Plan'

Zimmerman: All 'God's Plan' foxnews.com

Gives interview with Sean Hannity.

George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the death Trayvon Martin, told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that he was “beside myself” after shooting the 17-year-old to death—and insisted “I am not a racist or a murderer.” Zimmerman said Martin had “bashed my head” into the pavement before Zimmerman shot the teen in self-defense. Zimmerman said he would tell Martin’s parents that he is “sorry” about the shooting. “My wife and I don’t have any children,” Zimmerman said. “I am sorry they [the Martins] had to bury their child. I can’t imagine what that must be like. I pray for them daily.” Zimmerman said he doesn't regret carrying the gun, and said this is "part of God's plan." Hannity’s interview is the first time Zimmerman has given an interview since Martin’s death.

Read it at Fox News

DEMANDING

Zimmerman Asks for New Judge

Zimmerman Asks for New Judge Pool / Getty Images

Accused Trayvon Martin killer says court is biased.

The Florida man accused of killing unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin requested a new judge today, accusing the judge of expressing “personal opinions” not suited for court. Lawyers for George Zimmerman filed a motion requesting Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester be removed from the trial. The filing states that “the Court has created a reasonable fear in Mr. Zimmerman that this Court is biased against him and because of this prejudice he cannot receive a fair and impartial trial or hearing by this Court.” This is the second time Zimmerman has requested a new judge.

Read it at Reuters

Trayvon

Officer: FBI Forced Zimmerman Charges

Officer: FBI Forced Zimmerman Charges Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel / AP Photo

Police chief thought there wasn't enough evidence.

The lead police investigator in the Trayvon Martin case told the FBI that he felt pressured to arrest George Zimmerman and did not feel there was enough evidence. A newly released FBI report said that Sanford Police Officer Chris Serino felt that a sergeant and two other officers were “all pressuring him to file charges against Zimmerman after the incident.” The report did not mention the race of the officers, but sources say that two are black and one is married to a black man. Serino’s statement was included in the more than 300 pages of documents released on Thursday. Another newly released FBI report revealed that investigators found no evidence that racial bias motivated the shooting.

Read it at The Miami Herald

IN AND OUT

Zimmerman Released From Jail

Zimmerman Released From Jail Roberto Gonzalez / Getty Images

On $100,000 bond.

So much for donation-seeking claims that Zimmerman and his wife did not have “anywhere near” the money needed to bail him out of jail. Less than 24 hours after a judge set his bond at $1 million for a second-degree murder charge in the death of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman was released from prison for a second time after posting $100,000 bond—a standard 10 percent of the total bail. Zimmerman was reportedly bolstered by $20,000 in donations to his renewed defense fund.

Read it at USA Today

ONE MORE TIME

Zimmerman Bond Set at $1M

Zimmerman Bond Set at $1M

Judge says he poses no threat to society.

Here we go again. George Zimmerman’s bond has been set again—this time at $1 million. Zimmerman, who’s charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, originally had his bond set at $150,000 before it was revoked last month. Prosecutors argued that Zimmerman and his wife had lied to the court about how much money they had. Zimmerman was granted the bond because he “poses no threat to the community," though a judge said he was "flaunting the system."

Read it at Associated Press

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George Zimmerman’s Iffy Defense

The neighborhood watch volunteer said he was scared for his life. But newly released documents show he seemed anything but.

George Zimmerman’s decision to get out of his car and follow 17-year old Trayvon Martin on a dark rainy evening in Florida was “inconsistent” with his claim that he was scared of the unarmed African-American teenager he later shot and killed, according to an arrest request written by the Sanford police investigator initially assigned to the case.

Neighborhood Watch

In this image taken from a Sanford police video, George Zimmerman' speaks to investigators (not shown) at the scene of Trayvon Martin's fatal shooting, February 2012 (Sanford Police video via Zimmerman Defense Team / AP Photo)

The full two-page request to arrest the 28-year-old Zimmerman, dated March 13, was released by the special prosecutor’s office on Tuesday as part of the discovery process in the second-degree murder case. Previously, the document had been heavily redacted.

The killing of Trayvon Martin in February caused a national outcry because Zimmerman, who is white, wasn’t initially arrested or charged. Local prosecutors said the shooting was justified under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense law. But in April, following an intense outcry, a special prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

The release of the document Tuesday opens a window on the way police in Sanford saw Zimmerman’s self-defense claims. In the document, police investigator Christopher Serino lays out what he believed is the probable cause to arrest Zimmerman. The charge, he wrote back then, would be manslaughter.

“Zimmerman exited his vehicle, in spite of his earlier admission to investigators that he was afraid of Martin,” according to Serino’s report, “and followed Martin in an effort to maintain surveillance of him ...”

Serino, who interviewed Zimmerman in the days immediately after the incident, questioned whether Zimmerman, a volunteer on the neighborhood watch who was carrying a concealed 9mm firearm, was as scared as he told police he was. “His actions are inconsistent with those of a person who has stated he was in fear of another subject,” Serino wrote.

Zimmerman had been told by a police dispatcher that “we don’t need you” to follow Martin.

Outed

Sanford Police Chief Fired

Sanford Police Chief Fired Mario Tama / Getty Images

For his handling of the Trayvon Martin case.

Sanford, Fla., officials have fired Police Chief Bill Lee, the controversial law-enforcement officer who was roundly criticized for the way his department handled the Trayvon Martin case. Lee had temporarily stepped down from the position in March after public outcry erupted when the police decided not to arrest George Zimmerman for shooting and killing 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed. Lee offered his resignation in April, but city commissioners chose not to accept it. Lee had said there was no reason to arrest Zimmerman because there was no evidence to dispute his version of events.

Read it at CNN

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.