Our Common Good


Tonight, George Zimmerman — who is currently facing second degree murder charges for killing Trayvon Martin — participated in a highly unusual interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity.

Hannity asked Zimmerman if he regretted getting out of his car to follow Trayvon, carrying a gun, or anything at all about the night he killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman said he regretted nothing because he believed “it was all God’s plan.” He also said there isn’t anything he would do differently in retrospect.

(via George Zimmerman Says He Regrets Nothing: ‘It Was God’s Plan’ For Me To Kill Trayvon Martin)

The judge overseeing George Zimmerman’s murder trial wrote a stern eight-page order Thursday that set bail at $1 million and said the former neighborhood watch volunteer thumbed his nose at the judicial system as he plotted a life on the run.


  • shocking While discussing with his wife how he’d like to be picked up after making bail, George Zimmerman suggested he lie down in the SUV to avoid being spotted, saying, in a possible joke, that “I’ll have my hoodie” to place on the floor.
  • criminal? Zimmerman’s bank records — which were released today by the Seminole County Circuit Court — strongly suggest that he and his wife were intentionally skirting anti-money laundering laws during his bond hearing. source

» A possible crime vs. a questionable statement: Some have strongly criticized the audio, which paints Zimmerman as possibly making a joke about something which some might find offensive. (Here’s one example.) But, while troubling, the real issue to keep an eye on here is the possible money laundering. There is evidence (in the form of bank records) that Zimmerman and his wife tried to transfer the money at totals below $10,000 in an effort to avoid scrutiny of the money his Web site raised. A possibly tasteless joke? Definitely not great on top of everything else this case has thrust forward. But, of what’s been presented today, it’ll be those financial transactions which will have a real impact in the weeks and months ahead. Keep an eye out.

When your client is out on bond, the pressure is much lighter to rush to trial … because your client is sitting at home. When your client is sitting at the Seminole County Jail, your client is going to want this resolved.
Orlando-based former prosecutor Randy McLean • Discussing the George Zimmerman trial. Zimmerman returned to Sanford, Fla. Sunday morning to turn himself in. His bond was revoked Friday on evidence he hid a passport and financial gains received from a Web site he put up in the wake of allegations against him. This constituted evidence that he was a flight risk. As McLean points out, this is a bit of a double-whammy for Zimmerman — as his lawyer waived his right to a speedy trial, meaning that it might be slow-going for the Trayvon Martin shooter as he waits for his trial to begin. (via shortformblog)


A routine bail hearing for George Zimmerman took a surprising turn into remorse and explanation Friday when the neighborhood watch volunteer got on the witness stand and told Trayvon Martin’s parents: “I am sorry for the loss of your son.”

“I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not,” Zimmerman said, marking the first time he has spoken publicly about the Feb. 26 shooting of the unarmed black 17-year-old.

The hearing wrapped up with a judge ruling Zimmerman can be released from jail on $150,000 bail while he awaits trial on second-degree murder charges. Zimmerman, who has been in jail for more than a week, could be out within days and may be allowed to live outside Florida for his own safety once arrangements are made to monitor him electronically.

Defendants often testify about their financial assets at bail hearings, but it is highly unusual for them to address the charges, and rarer still to apologize.

An attorney for Martin’s parents, who were in the courtroom when Zimmerman spoke, spurned the apology. The parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, had no comment as they left.

“This was the most disingenuous and unfair thing I’ve seen,” said attorney Natalie Jackson. “This was the most unmeaningful apology.”

In a measure of how volatile the case has become, Zimmerman appeared to be wearing a bulletproof vest under his suit and tie, and his parents and wife testified via telephone because of fears for their safety.

After the hearing, Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, acknowledged that putting Zimmerman on the stand was risky but said his client wanted to respond after Martin’s mother said in an interview that she would like to hear from him.

“He had always wanted to acknowledge what happened that day,” O’Mara said. “I was hoping that it could be accomplished in a private way. We weren’t afforded that opportunity.”

Stacey Honowitz, a Florida prosecutor with no connection to the case, said: “I think it was to sway public opinion. He’s not incriminating himself. He is setting up his self-defense claim.”

In agreeing to let Zimmerman out on bail, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said he cannot have any guns and must observe a 7 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew. Zimmerman also surrendered his passport.

Zimmerman will need to put up 10 percent, or $15,000, to make bail. O’Mara said he expects the family to come up with the amount. Zimmerman’s father has indicated he may take out a second mortgage.

Zimmerman worked at a mortgage risk-management company at the time of the shooting and his wife is in nursing school. A website was set up to collect donations for Zimmerman’s defense fund. It is unclear how much it has raised.

Bail is not unheard of in second-degree murder cases, and legal experts had predicted it would be granted for Zimmerman because of his ties to the community, because he turned himself in after he was charged last week, and because he has never been convicted of a serious crime.

Prosecutors had asked for $1 million bail, citing two previous scrapes Zimmerman had with the law, neither of which resulted in charges. In 2005, he had to take anger management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman’s friend. In another incident, a girlfriend accused him of attacking her.

The hearing provided a few glimpses of the strengths — and weaknesses — in the case being built by prosecutors.

Dale Gilbreath, an investigator for the prosecution, testified that he does not know whether Martin or Zimmerman threw the first punch and that there is no evidence to disprove Zimmerman’s contention he was walking back to his vehicle when confronted by Martin.

But Gilbreath also said Zimmerman’s claim that Martin was slamming his head against the sidewalk just before he shot the teenager was “not consistent with the evidence we found.” He gave no details.

In taking the stand, Zimmerman opened himself up to questions from a prosecutor, who grilled him on whether he made an apology to police on the night of the shooting, and why he waited so long to express remorse to Martin’s parents.

Zimmerman said he told police he felt sorry for the parents. He also said he didn’t say anything to them sooner because his former attorneys told him not to.

As part of the bail hearing, Zimmerman’s family testified that he wouldn’t flee if released and would be no threat to the community.

“He is absolutely not a violent person,” said his wife, Shellie Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, said that even when confronted, his son was likely to “turn the other cheek.” The father also described his son’s injuries the morning after Martin was shot, saying he had a cut and swollen lip, a protective cover over his nose and gashes on the back of his head.

Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys, said her son worked with two black children as part of a mentoring program that required him to venture into a dangerous neighborhood. “He said, ‘Mom, if I don’t go, they don’t have nobody,’” she recalled.


By Daniel C. Vock
April 13, 2012

From the article: Now, more than any time in recent memory, the American Legislative Exchange Council is under attack. The influential but reticent group of conservative state legislators and corporate officers just lost the support of roughly half a dozen companies including some, like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, that are among best-known brands in American business.

The group, founded in 1973, claims about one in five state legislators across the country as members. Those lawmakers decide, in closed-door meetings that also include business members, on model legislation for members to push in individual states.

The departing companies left rather than defend themselves — and ALEC — for supporting policies that a civil rights group says discriminate against African Americans. The civil rights group, called Color of Change, says it has 900,000 members. It originally targeted ALEC last year for promoting voter ID laws. But in the wake of the shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin in Florida, it is also attacking ALEC for spreading the type of “Stand Your Ground” law that has made it more difficult to prosecute Martin’s killer.


Among the other recent departures from ALEC are Kraft, Intuit, Wendy’s, Pepsi and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (The Corrections Corporation of America, once a major ALEC backer, left two years ago in an apparently unrelated development.) Now organizers are pressuring State Farm and Johnson & Johnson to withdraw as well.

A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson emailed a statement saying the company worked with “many organizations across the political spectrum” on policy issues. “Our company participates with these groups, including ALEC, on a broad range of issues,” the statement read. “While we express our views to organizations with which we work, we may not align with or support every public position each of these broad-based groups takes.” State Farm did not return calls for comment.

The damage done by the companies’ departure from ALEC may be more symbolic than practical. ALEC claims it has more than 500 private sector members, none of which contributes more than 5 percent of its budget.

But corporate support is the lifeblood of ALEC. Legislators pay only $50 a piece to become members. In 2010, the last year for which data is available, their dues covered only about $85,000 of the group’s $7.2 million in income, or a little more than 1 percent of ALEC’s revenue.


Before Color of Change goes public to pressure a company into leaving ALEC, it shows company officials the websites it plans to launch and details of the anticipated campaign. When the campaign does go public, it often does not take long for the company to withdraw. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, Robinson says, both made announcements within a day.

“Being able to mobilize tens of thousands of black Americans online,” Robinson says, “to tell a huge company like Coke that they can’t come for our money by day and then come for our vote by night is very powerful.”

Read the full article.


George Zimmerman’s former lawyers vs. CNN’s poor camera angle: No winners

In case you missed it, here’s the wild press conference held by the former attorneys for George Zimmerman, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig. This is a slightly lower-quality version is basically to show the horrible camera angle CNN had when they showed it live on the air. Note the people walking in the background staring. It made an already awkward press conference (seriously, who wants to be a lawyer in a high-profile case and admit your client has gone off the grid?) look even more awkward. If you look at some of the other videos, they portrayed the situation a little better. But, by just showing random awkward people in the background, it made the whole thing look even more farcical. In fact, the network appeared to realize this halfway through, showing secondary images on the air and cropping the frame tightly. This is a very serious case. CNN did a disservice to viewers with this poor camera angle.

EDIT: On a related note, special prosecutor Angela Corey says she plans to make an announcement on the case within the next 72 hours.

Turning “the moment” into “a movement” will depend on whether all the emotion swirling around Trayvon dissipates over time or coalesces into a permanent desire to make a difference, said the Rev. Willie Barnes, pastor of Macedonia Baptist.

“You can’t just show up and shout and make noise. You have to do it with the vote,” Barnes said. “You can’t change the system until you change the people who are running it.”

Barnes said his church is not making any special effort to register voters on Easter, but voter registration has become a routine part of his Sunday announcements. Several members of his congregation are certified by the elections office to register voters, he said.

Allie Braswell, president of the Central Florida Urban League, said it may be too early to tell whether the masses marching for Trayvon can be converted into a mass infusion of new black voters.

“I cannot judge yet where we are,” he said, but the opportunity is there. “If we really want to bring about lasting change, we have to get involved. To encourage the younger generation to get involved is the right thing to do.”


It must seem incomprehensible to many at this point that anyone would still publicly defend admitted killer George Zimmerman — with the possible exception of Zimmerman’s family and his Black Friend/Acquaintance™, Joe Oliver. Even those defenses seem much more understandable than the rush of voices from the political Right that have not only sought to justify Zimmerman’s actions, but to also shame and shift blame onto his shooting victim, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Geraldo Rivera’s “hoodie” comments prompted him to apologize (for real this time) on-air today to Trayvon’s parents, but not everyone on the Right has been so regretful. Now, true enough, the legal aspects of the case — especially Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which then-governor Jeb Bush signed with the blessing of the NRA, and behind which Zimmerman is hiding — makes Trayvon’s case a political story. The racial stereotypes that perhaps led to Trayvon’s death and have been raised by those calling for Zimmerman’s arrest (he’s been free for all 36 days since the shooting) — that also makes it political. Even the involvement of certain leaders makes it so.

Sexual politics are a part of this, too, apparently. I came across an anti-abortion post today decrying the focus on Trayvon’s case, for fear we ignore the “killing of (unborn) black babies.” Another conservative Trayvon-related meme that the Right is disguising as concern-trolling is succinctly summed up as, “Why don’t black people protest black-on-black crime, too?” (Though he shouldn’t have had to do soAtlantic senior editor Ta-Nehisi Coates disposed of that today with several examples of just that.)

But as Alex Pareene notes in Salon today, what really changed things was President Obama speaking up on March 23. If you believe folks like Newt Gingrich, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” is a racially divisive statement. If you believe Zimmerman’s dad, that’s a statement of hatred. Calling out everyone from Tucker Carlson to Peggy Noonan to libertarians at Reason Magazine, Pareene gives a number of reasons why the Right has gone there, so to speak.

The top three:

  1. The conservative movement denies the existence (or prevalence or impact) of racism.
  2. The president is extremely polarizing.
  3. The killing was already political.

From reason number 1:

As Elspeth Reeve pointed out in a sharp piece for the Atlantic Wire, the Trayvon Martin case posed something of a problem: No one was accusing anyone other than George Zimmerman of racism. There wasn’t an obvious political partisan advantage to raising awareness of Martin’s death. But some right-wingers find any acknowledgment of racism by liberals to be blood libel against all conservatives. And so … they began defending George Zimmerman’s honor, and smearing Trayvon Martin…

The “highbrow” version of this barrel-scraping garbage is, say, Jonah Goldberg’s ponderous column and blog post on how middle-class blacks don’t understand that white racism is no longer a problem in black communities.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend that you read Jamelle Bouie’s remarkable counter-argument to that Goldberg post in the American Prospect. And though I touched on reasons 2 and 3, you should read the rest of Pareene’s post today — including the fourth and final reason why he thinks the Right may be doing this:

4. Racism.

Of course at the root of the most noxious material from the far right is simple racism — the sincere belief that if a black kid got shot, he probably had it coming.

Melissa led off Saturday’s show with a discussion about what theGrio’s managing editorJoy-Ann Reid called the “culture war” surrounding Trayvon’s death. Please take a look at the discussion, which also involved political science professor Frances Fox Piven and author, blogger and Feministing founder Jessica Valenti.

source and video

Vice President Biden weighs in on the controversy surrounding the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the “Stand Your Ground” law that has allowed his shooter to remain free. Tune in Sunday for the full interview during the first hour-long episode of “Face the Nation.

(via Behind the scenes with Biden at Face the Nation - CBS News Video)


A press release sent out Wednesday said police would arrest journalists who attempt to make contact with city employees during non-working hours. They asked to not approach, call or email the city employees at home.

Some city staffers have been “followed or approached at their home or in settings outside of working hours,” the release said.

“Law enforcement officials will not hesitate to make an arrest for stalking.”

However, the Florida statute on stalking does not include language that would provide special protection to city officials or prevent media from asking questions.

“Law enforcement officials will not hesitate to make an arrest for stalking.”

But they will apparently hesitate to make an arrest for stalking and murdering a minor for no reason.


It’s getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the Trayvon Martin story. Here’s what you need to know:
ABC News obtained a police surveillance video of George Zimmerman at the police station shortly after he shot Trayvon Martin. No blood or bruises are visible, seemingly contradicting Zimmerman’s report that Martin attacked him. It has also emerged that the lead homicide investigator on the case wanted to arrest Zimmerman, but was overruled by a prosecutor. 
Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) donned a hoodie on the House floor in a gesture of solidarity to Trayvon Martin. He was escorted off the floor by the sergeant-at-arms for wearing a hat. 
Trayvon Martin’s mother is trying to trademark the phrases “I Am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon.” Her lawyers say the move is to prevent anyone from profiting of Martin’s name — cynics wonder if she’s being a little opportunistic. 
Fox is yanking its marketing for Neighborhood Watch, a feel good comedy about neighborhood watchmen taking their jobs too seriouslyThe movie is set to be released July 27, and stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill. Some are wondering if Fox may pull the $70 million film altogether.
The Trayvon Martin case: A comprehensive timeline


It’s getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the Trayvon Martin story. Here’s what you need to know:

The Trayvon Martin case: A comprehensive timeline

The National Council of La Raza responded to accusations on Wednesday by critics such as conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh that the civil rights organization has not been vocal enough during the Trayvon Martin controversy.

"We really regret people trying to use this to divide blacks and Latinos," said Lisa Navarrete, a spokeswoman for La Raza. "It’s disturbing to us that Rush Limbaugh has this theory. The only time he apparently cares about what happens to a Latino is when they may have happened to kill a young African-American man."


Although La Raza has been largely out of the spotlight during the controversy, other Latino groups have stepped up to show their support. On March 20, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus released a statement asking for the Department of Justice to pursue the matter as a federal hate crime.

"The Department of Justice is sending a message to the Martin family and to communities of color that our children’s lives have value and deserve equal protection under the law," said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, leader of the caucus.

In Orlando, Navarette said one of the first people to reach out to the Martin family lawyer was Marytza Sanz, who is affiliated with La Raza and runs a Latino leadership nonprofit near Sanford.

"Look, there are tensions between our two communities, but it would be a further injustice if this incident was used to further that," she said. "We’ve been in touch with Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Jealous at the NAACP, and as this continues we’ve offered our support to them."