Romaine Phillips has released a nearly seven-minute “documentary” to YouTube about the Travyon Martin case called “I am Trayvon Martin: Atlanta.”
The short film depicts the killing of Trayvon Martin through the filter of just one man’s view, yet seems very much in synch with the story as it as being mythologized in the African-American and progressive political spectrum. It is a story where the politicization and opportunism of a local act has been blown up into a national spectacle. The following is not a debunking of the film, nor an attack upon it. It is merely offered as a critique and clarification of the inaccuracies commonly displayed as “fact” thanks to misstatements, inferences, speculation, and in some sad instances, blatant fabrication.
The film begins with a montage of commenters and news anchors repeating the name “Trayvon Martin” for the first 13 seconds before fading to dirge like music, a photo of the young man in a hoodie, and a text narrative displayed on screen.
On February 26, 2012, 17 year old, Trayvon Martin was gunned down by, 28 year old neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman in what many believe to be a racially motivated hate crime.
This statement is factually correct, if still misleading. The author does not explain that the reason many feel that Martin’s killing is a “racially motivated hate crime” is because that claim has been made repeatedly, without evidence to support the contention.
Martin died that night while his killer, Zimmerman, was allowed to return home without and charges or a criminal investigation filed against him.
This statement is misleading, and the author is apparently confused about the mechanics of the criminal justice system. George Zimmerman was handcuffed and brought to the Sanford, Florida Police Department , where video of him exiting a police car prior to his questioning was famously trumpeted by the Martin family lawyer, Ben Crump, as “proof” Zimmerman was not injured by an assault by Trayvon Martin as he had claimed. The claim was repeated by ABC News. The video clearly shows, however, that Zimmerman has a pair of sizable lacerations on the back of his head that were consistent with the wounds described in a police report logged at the scene of the shooting, and with the kind of wounds Zimmerman claimed to have received as the result of an attack by Martin. ABC News has been forced to acknowledge they were wrong. Martin family lawyer Ben Crump has remained silent about his erroneous claim.
The author apparently is unaware that Zimmerman was taken to the police station, waived his 5th amendment rights, and was interrogated by police investigators. After conferring with the District Attorney’s office, the police then released Zimmerman. Claiming he was “allowed to return home” implies that no preliminary investigation at all took place, and is deceptive. At this point, we are just 26 seconds into the video.
Trayvon Martin’s murder sparked national outcry from many who believed his killing to be a modern day Emmet Till lynching.
Legally speaking, this was not remotely murder, in either the first or second degree. This is hyperbole. At most, the charges could be manslaughter if evidence determined that George Zimmerman’s story was untrue. As it stands now, however, the physical evidence suggests that Trayvon Martin did physically assault George Zimmerman, which was the first crime committed by either party in the chain of events. Martin’s actions then apparently escalated to attempting to smash Zimmerman’s head on the pavement. This is an assault with a deadly weapon in the eyes of the law, and is plausible from both Zimmerman’s wounds and is consistent with the eyewitness testimony of one witness (Brown) who said he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, and Zimmerman crying for help before the shooting.
Emmet Till was lynched for apparently looking at a white woman the wrong way. There is a vast gulf between killing someone over a perceived slight (Till) and in alleged response to a physical assault with a deadly weapon (Martin). This allegation is gross hyperbole, if commonly accepted by certain people. We are now 35 seconds into the video.
The video then shows the crowd and speakers at a rally in Atlanta, GA, where Trayvon Martin supporters gathered to listen to speakers that called for “justice” and for George Zimmerman to be arrested, as if the two were necessarily synonymous. Other speakers then romanticized Martin and furthered the use of his name as a symbol.
After spending some time getting a flavor of the sentiments from the speakers , the author then interviews people about what they think of the case. The people he interviews are passionate and generally well-spoken, though their arguments are punctuated by half-truths and untruths gleaned from the media’s coverage. One of the speakers, a blond-haired black woman wearing a light blue or lavender hoodie, is representatively racist in a way that is consistent with much of the commentary from African American Democrats on Twitter and other forums, who somehow have twisted the shooting in their minds to be tied to “white” Tea Party values. The shooter, George Zimmerman, is a multiracial Democratic.
It is merely my observation–and I may be quite wrong–but George Zimmerman seems to be the target of scapegoating from an African-American community exhausted by black-on-black crime, but unwilling to be introspective and face the fact that the overwhelming majority of black murder victims are killed by young black men. George Zimmerman has become an outlet for that frustration, a symbol to lynch, instead of facing up to the corrosive, violent, demeaning hip-hop/gang/dependence culture that has crippled the African American community in recent decades.
I’m sure that Romain Phillips and the people who attended the rally he films are truly passionate about the injustices they perceive. I just think they are unwilling to be introspective enough to try to find the source of the cultural deficiencies that lead so many young black men to the grave long before their time.