Our Common Good

The parents of Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, have established an online fund to help pay their living expenses. On the recently-launched donation site, Zimmerman’s dad, Robert, writes about his medical bills and how he and his wife, Gladys, have been on the move since the February shooting.

“We fully realize that the peaceful, secure life we once knew is now just a memory,” Robert writes. “Therefore, I am providing a link for those supporters who would like to leave us a personal message or contribute to our greatly increased living expenses, and our eventual relocation.”



Judge in George Zimmerman 2nd-degree murder case will not step aside - @orlandosentinel http://t.co/XuIQVjxT


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 Georgia trial lawyer asks:

Is ABC Paying for George Zimmerman’s Legal Defense? Casey Anthony All Over Again?

Right now, it is just a question, but it wouldn’t surprise me.


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.


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.

On the website — therealgeorgezimmerman.com — Zimmerman solicits donations to support his “living expenses and legal defense.” He writes: “I have created a Paypal account solely linked on this website as I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally and ensure that any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment. I will also personally, maintain accountability of all funds received.”

He also features a photo of a vandalized black cultural center at Ohio State University.


The other photo featured on Zimmerman’s website is from a rally held by Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones


The executive director of the Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center called for the arrest of the person responsible for graffiti that might have been racially-charged after it was found on a campus building Thursday morning.

The words “Long Live Zimmerman” were found…


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

An unnamed former co-worker told the New York Daily News that George Zimmerman was paid under-the-table for providing security for illegal house parties between 2001 and 2005, but was let go because his anger issues “became a liability.” “Usually he was just a cool guy,” the former co-worker explained. “He liked to drink and hang with the women like the rest of us. … But it was like Jekyll and Hyde. When the dude snapped, he snapped.”

Zimmerman Was Fired from Security Job After He “Snapped” | AlterNet

"Unnamed" so caution advised re giving this too much weight.