Trayvon Martin’s father Tracy has reportedly “attacked” a supporter of George Zimmerman, mouthing an expletive (“motherf***er”) during pre-trial proceedings outside the courtroom during an alleged incident relayed by Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara as he argued that Martin and Trayvon’s mother should be barred from the courtroom if Zimmerman’s parents were.
As George Zimmerman’s trial wears on, the incident in which Tracy Martin allegedly attacked a Zimmerman reporter seems, like many, to skip over what feels to be the actual lurking headline within the story — something more like:
“Trayvon Martin’s Dad Tracy Somehow Miraculously Not Punching Everyone In The Courtroom In The Face, Continuously, As Zimmerman Trial Progresses.”
Debate aside, the Trayvon Martin case is one for which it’s hard to imagine a worse parental nightmare. People without children bristle at the notion that parenthood imbues one with any special ability to feel compassion, empathy, or projected sadness, and it’s true that all people have likely experienced fierce and vulnerable love like the love a parent feels for a child.
But the eternal curse of a parent is the one Trayvon’s mom and dad have to know so intimately — that fear that as they step out into the world, they will be slow to develop the ability to detect and evade the ill-intentioned. That if this horrible happenstance occurs, they will come to harm much like Martin did and we will be unable to intervene and protect them.
So too in life it feels like nothing is so unfair as compounded pain, and when Martin died at the hands of Zimmerman that night in 2012, the series of insults added to the Martin and Fulton families’ injury had yet to begin. The second portion of the same parental nightmare is that after the harm comes to a child, we as parents (having begun to allow them freedom) will sit blissfully unaware as our near-adult offspring lay injured, dying, or dead, and as a parent myself, the case first really hit me when I learned Tracy Martin had not been informed of his son’s death until the following day — despite the fact that Trayvon was a minor, despite the fact that he carried a cell phone.
By the time Tracy Martin, who filed a missing person’s report before anyone in Sanford decided to let him know his minor child had been shot in the chest, learned of his son’s murder, Zimmerman had been questioned and released.
And had it not been for social media, and the small glimmer of hope it provided for Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the story would have likely ended there. Just for a second, imagine that first day for his parents — not only do you learn no one had bothered to inform you of your high schooler’s shooting death despite the fact you lived blocks away from the crime scene, but the man known to be responsible had already been questioned and released.
And, if you consider yourself sympathetic to Zimmerman, ask — really ask yourself this — would anything on Earth stop you from kicking up hell until that had been resolved? What if you learned this, later, even as the man who admitted to shooting your child in the chest, to death, walked free? Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said of the “initial investigation” into the shooting:
They ran a background check on Trayvon Martin, who’s dead on the ground, and they don’t run one on George Zimmerman. They do a drug and alcohol analysis on Trayvon Martin, but they don’t order one on George Zimmerman.
And again, the pain we can only imagine such a revelation caused to Martin and Fulton pales in comparison to what must have followed the constant and relentless character assassination to which the memory of Trayvon has been subject since day one. Their child — their murdered child — is by all facts of the case the victim of a crime, cheerfully minding his own business when a stranger (one of those people all children, black, white or purple are taught to be suspicious of from toddlerhood) approaches and eventually shoots and kills him.
Martin himself spoke to this fear realized in an interview, thankfully realizing that no foreknowledge could have spared his son the fate he met at Zimmerman’s hands:
I never thought this could happen to him, and I know Trayvon was scared and confused in those final moments. This wasn’t anything that any parent could prepare their child for.
No charges were brought for several weeks, and only after massive and nationwide outcry failed to abate was a special prosecutor brought in to right the wrongs in Sanford. But the police department’s failure to arrest Zimmerman gave rise to a toxic public perception that somehow the oversight validated the actions of Martin’s admitted shooter.
Zimmerman’s case for his own guilt was expertly laid out today by Esquire in a piece titled “The Quote That Should End The Trayvon Trial,” where John H. Richardson makes out an airtight argument for the defendant’s conviction — noting George himself was aware the “series of break-ins” yarn had already culminated in an arrest, citing his frustration at having to answer questions about the dead teenager:
A professional thief would be moving intentionally, not wandering down the middle of the street in the full light of the streetlamps. Although Zimmerman’s fear supposedly hinges on the series of robberies that the police believed had been addressed already with an arrest, it seems clear that even Zimmerman didn’t really believe his own alibi. More likely, even in his mind, Martin was a kid from the neighborhood out smoking a joint and at the worst, looking for a little illicit excitement — a ‘fking punk.’
Yet in those weeks and through the magic of political alchemy, much suspicion somehow came to rest on Trayvon rather than the man who had, by all appearances, shot him dead for no apparent reason. By the time Zimmerman was finally arrested Martin had been called a “thug,” a prominent reporter said that his hoodie had killed him as much as George Zimmerman had, and conservative pundit Michelle Malkin helped circulate an image of another man (also named Trayvon) distributed on white supremacist message boards, smugly claiming a “media narrative” that painted Martin as less black and less scary than he was in real life.
And despite the image (however irrelevant) being no more an accurate portrayal of Trayvon Martin than it is of me, the meme stuck — to this day when we run a post with an actual picture of Martin, commenters blast us for not running the “real” (fake) picture.
The claim is one of many against Trayvon Martin that is somehow deemed a factor in his death as the case finally begins, and one of the daily, repeated indignities suffered by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. Not only is their beloved son dead and buried before even getting the chance to actually live his life, but a sneering, uninformed group of people in no small number have rallied behind his killer in support.
And back to Tracy Martin. O’Mara argued for Martin and Fulton to be banned from the courtroom in some sickening concept of “fairness,” given his accused killer’s parents were barred due to their status as potential witnesses. Despite laws in Florida that give victim’s families the right to be present, the Zimmerman camp felt that this was a valid request.
Yahoo reports of the request as well as the claim made by O’Mara:
“In making his argument, O’Mara told the judge — the jury was out of the room at the time — that Martin’s father Tracy Martin had ‘threatened or cursed at one of my client’s family members.’ ”
Indeed, two weeks after the fact, witness Tim Tuchalski testified that, bearing a badge identifying him as with the Zimmerman family, he held a door open for Martin and Fulton when the swearing occurred:
“He seen me and seen my badge and said motherf***er under his breath… I was holding the door for him and his wife… That’s what I believe I heard… I’m sure that’s what I heard.”
(As sure as George Zimmerman was that Trayvon Martin was an armed “thug,” Mr. Tuchalski?)
One of the most popular comments on that Yahoo article comes from a random internet commenter who seems to live in a world where people are capable of experiencing no rage or anger when seated in a courtroom right beside the man who shot their son and the lawyer defaming his memory day in and day out, as he or she opines:
“Martin’s family is consumed by hatred and racism. They don’t seek justice, they crave revenge. They will never believe that their precious son wasn’t a model citizen. Racism cuts both ways, and they’re some of the worst.”
Another simply adds:
“Like father Martin like son Martin. Nothing but trouble!”
One commenter attacks Tracy Martin for not constantly wearing a suit as we all do all day every day, observing of the man who had to to walk out of the courtroom today as images of his son’s lifeless body were shown:
“Remember the Father in the first days of media coverage? White T- shirts, He’s festooned with TAT”S an NBA player would be proud of. Now [they] have him in a suit and tie like he’s soppossed [sic] to be respectable or something!!”
Yet another imagines that Zimmerman politely asked Trayvon to wait for police, a request Zimmerman had no authority to make and one which Martin would have been under no obligation to honor should this fantasy have been accurate:
“[Trayvon] was not a child he was a young adult. I’m sure he was asked to stop and wait for police. [Trayvon] even had a phone to call 911 about a stalker. Instead tryvon tried to cordinate and attack on Zimmerman to show him how its done in the hood. If I’m wrong then why didnt [Trayvon] call 911?”
Probably because he was busy being shot in the chest, Sherlock.
The elder Martin, for his part, seems unshakeable in his conviction not only that the words of detractors are irrelevant, but also that justice will be done — he says in the earlier interview:
“My kid was perfect to me. As a father, it hurts to see how Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, has tried to twist the truth. And I can’t defend my son, who has been killed. It’s demoralizing. How do you blame the victim?”
What they don’t understand is that Zimmerman didn’t only murder my son — he destroyed an entire branch of my family tree. I looked forward to the possibility of having grandkids from Trayvon. And that’s something that can never happen now. But as far as the attacks on Trayvon’s character, it certainly isn’t true, and therefore doesn’t affect me personally. I just hope it doesn’t work with the jury and the public.
In any event, this little side story about the Trayvon Martin case and the daily happenings in the trial of George Zimmerman has illustrated a very sad demand we as a society have made of Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton.
According to GMA, Martin silently shook his head as O’Mara stood the request he be denied his lawful right to observe the trial of his son’s killer, much as he has been forced to do as he and Trayvon’s mom have endured indignity after indignity in the fight to see their son’s killer simply jailed.
While Zimmerman is able to pontificate at will about how the teen deserved his fate and any one of us reading this would be able to articulate a detailed and violent fantasy about how we ourselves would like a person who might harm our child to suffer, Tracy Martin is allowed no such privilege. Even given that his son’s killer has shown not an ounce of remorse since that night, even in passing.
And through what is sure to be a lengthy and insult filled trial, all Tracy Martin is permitted to do lest he impede his chance at winning justice for his boy (however slim) is nod silently.