Jay-Z and the production people involved in the six-part documentary series, “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” inevitably learned enough along the way to tell the truth of what happened to Martin.
They have simply chosen not to share it.
At one point they interviewed George Zimmerman’s former neighbors, a young white couple named Michael and Olivia Bertalan.
Michael dispassionately tells of how the collapse of the Florida real estate market affected the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford where the Bertalans and the Zimmermans lived.
The managers opened the complex up to those with Section 8 vouchers, and squatters reportedly occupied at least one townhouse.
“There were several break-ins in the neighborhood,” Olivia tells the producers, “and that was the final tipping point of starting the neighborhood watch.”
The producers knew what the “that” was. Olivia had to have told them, but if the producers shared it with the audience, it would unravel the entire theme of Part 3, namely that Zimmerman turned into a racist vigilante when his “utopia of white privilege” was extended to other races.
The “that” occurred one afternoon when Olivia was home with her 9-month-old son. She had been upstairs when she heard knocking at the front door. Zimmerman tells what happened next in his unpublished memoir:
Not expecting visitors, Olivia looked down from the nursery window and saw two unknown young men at her front door. She chose not to respond and remained quiet inside her home with the baby.
Shortly after the knock at the front door, she heard someone messing with the sliding glass door that led to the backyard.
She moved to the back of the town home’s second level, looked out the window and saw that one of the men was now at the back door. At this point Olivia decided to call the police.
While she was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, the unthinkable happened. The men forced their way in through the back door and started rummaging through the first floor of the house.
Olivia held her baby tightly in her arms and desperately pleaded with the dispatcher for help. The dispatcher instructed her to lock the bedroom door. When she heard the men storm up the stairs, Olivia clung to the phone as a lifeline and begged for advice.
The dispatcher asked if she had a weapon handy. Olivia looked around in a panic. All she could find was a rusty pair of sewing scissors. The dispatcher told her to grab the scissors and to prepare to resist even with the baby still in her arms.
Fortunately, the police arrived just as the men were trying to force themselves into her bedroom, and this was just part of the “that.”
George’s then-wife Shellie saw the two perps, both young black men, flee through their shared backyard carrying electronic equipment.
When one of the men dropped an item and stooped to pick it up, he made eye contact with Shellie who was looking through the kitchen window.
Fearing retaliation, Shellie wanted to move. That being impossible at the time, she begged George to do something.
To put her mind at ease, Zimmerman attended the next homeowner’s meeting and volunteered to head up a neighborhood watch.
He and Shellie already owned handguns. They bought them on the advice of an animal control officer and a cop, who told them there was no other effective way to deal with pit bulls left unattended in their “utopia of white privilege.”
Soon after the home invasion, the Bertalans did move. Michael told George that Olivia felt violated and no longer safe in her home.
I suspect the Bertalans shared “that” with the producers who simply chose not to share it with the audience.
The producers preferred instead to share commentary from a variety of absurdly biased talking heads. To a person, they refused to acknowledge that young black men were responsible for virtually all the break-ins and home invasions that plagued the neighborhood.
They convinced themselves that Zimmerman’s response was about fear, paranoia and, of course, racism.
Although conceding that Zimmerman’s mother was Afro-Peruvian, they tried to make the case that Zimmerman was an “aspirational” white man who abandoned his roots.
The episode’s most obnoxious quote award, a highly contested category, went to Politico’s very white Michael Caputo.
Taking a break from his “Russia collusion” beat, Caputo assured the viewer, “Part of white, Christian, male culture is guns.”