Although one should never underestimate the moral bankruptcy of Barack Obama’s Justice Department, a federal prosecution of George Zimmerman on civil rights charges is highly unlikely.
As Eric Holder and company have known from the beginning, Zimmerman makes about as unlikely a racist poster child as America could produce. They would just as soon keep this information to themselves.
A notorious procrastinator on issues unfavorable to the White House like “Fast and Furious,” Holder did not take long to jump into the the Zimmerman case.
On March 19, 2012, ABC reported that the FBI, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida would all investigate Trayvon Martin’s death.
By Monday, April 2, FBI agents were already in Florida questioning individuals in an Orwellian “parallel investigation” that focused less on Zimmerman’s actions that fateful night than on his thoughts, past and present.
Did he really say “coon” on his call to the dispatcher? Had he ever told a racial joke? Were the suspicious persons he reported to the police disproportionately black?
In contemporary America words often matter more than action. An L.A. jury set a double-murderer free in no small part because a detective on the O. J. Simpson case, Mark Fuhrman, used the word “n—er” 10 years earlier.
Team Trayvon and its allies in Obama’s Justice Department hoped the FBI would find some similar offense in Zimmerman’s past. They did not succeed.
By day 2 of the FBI investigation, agents Elizabeth Alexander and Matthew Oliver were grilling Sanford PD lead investigator Chris Serino. The agents’ first mistake was to get the date wrong on their report.
The agents’ larger mistake, the Justice Department’s really, was their failure to understand that if the civil rights of anyone had been abused, that person was Zimmerman.
Serino had been feeling the heat to make an arrest, and he said as much to the FBI. The police officer who concerned him most was Arthur Barnes, who was “friendly” with Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father.
For his part, Barnes, an African-American, told the FBI that the black community might well be “in an uproar” if Zimmerman were not charged. The FBI quoted Barnes as saying, “The community will be satisfied if an arrest takes place.”
Former Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee said much the same. As he told CNN after testifying at Zimmerman’s trial, black city manager Norton Bonaparte asked him “several times” in the weeks after the shooting, “Can an arrest be made now?”
Bonaparte was not the only one prodding him. “It was related to me that they just wanted an arrest,” said Lee. “They didn’t care if it was dismissed later.”
The need to satisfy this community pressure led the brass of two police departments, the State of Florida and the U.S. Department of Justice to conspire to arrest Zimmerman, himself a minority. If that were not a civil rights violation, it would be hard to identify what a violation was.
Like everyone else the FBI talked to, Serino viewed Zimmerman as “not a racist.” Wrote the agents, “Serino believed that ZIMMERMAN’S actions were not based on MARTIN’S skin color rather based on his attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community.”
The FBI had interviewed some 35 of Zimmerman’s friends, neighbors and co-workers, and to a person, they “had never seen Zimmerman display any prejudice or racial bias.”
The most revealing of the FBI interviews was with Zimmerman’s one-time fiancée, herself Hispanic, with whom he lived for a period of time.
Although not at all hesitant to document his imperfections, the young woman thought Zimmerman to be “last person in the world” she would expect to be involved in the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
He “never exhibited any biases or prejudices against anyone,” she told the FBI, “and did not use racial epithets of any kind.”
The detail that the Justice Department would most like to keep under wraps was Zimmerman’s involvement in a December 2010 incident in which a police lieutenant’s son named Justin Collison sucker punched a black homeless man named Sherman Ware outside a bar.
Although Ware suffered a concussion, and there was video evidence of Collison’s action, no action was taken against Collison for nearly a month.
Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, were upset at the lack of media attention the case was getting. So they printed fliers demanding that the community “hold accountable” officers responsible for misconduct. They then drove the fliers around to area churches and passed them out on a Sunday morning.
Later at a public meeting in January 2011, Zimmerman took the floor and said, “I would just like to state that the law is written in black and white. It should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those that are in the thin blue line.”
This meeting was recorded on video. As a result of the publicity, Police Chief Brian Tooley, whom Zimmerman blasted for his “illegal cover-up and corruption,” was forced to resign, and Collison was arrested.
After the shooting, all of Zimmerman’s civil rights activism was quickly forgotten. Even the sister of Sherman Ware joined the mob demanding Zimmerman’s arrest.
“I stand for justice,” she insisted at a Trayvon rally March 19 at the Seminole Criminal courthouse, “for Trayvon, for Sherman Ware.”
The local NAACP, with whom Zimmerman worked on the Ware case, turned its back on him as well. Ware’s attorney, Natalie Jackson, was a key player on Team Trayvon.
When in early April 2012, the Zimmerman family talked publicly about George’s involvement in the Ware case, Jackson denied that he had handed out any fliers and dismissed the family’s attempt to establish Zimmerman’s commitment to racial justice.
“It’s a PR strategy, a propaganda campaign,” said Jackson. “His friends and family are doing him a big disservice by race-baiting.”
Back in 2010, Zimmerman, an Obama supporter, headlined his fliers with a famous quote from Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
He might more accurately have quoted another Anglo-Irishman, Oscar Wilde, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
- See today’s report on developments in the Zimmerman-Martin case:
- Jimmy Carter: Zimmerman jury right
- Trayvon Martin protest leaders revealed
- Rush: Racism worse under Obama
- ‘Churches’ denouncing Zimmerman exposed
- To avoid looking like a criminal, don’t commit a crime
- Zimmerman verdict: Marxists’ predictable response
- Why feds won’t prosecute Zimmerman