The proof this time was his being briefly detained for allegedly threatening his now estranged wife along with a report that he had a gun.
But even though Zimmerman wasn’t charged, the picture painted of him by his legion of admirers and defenders, and that includes many who cheered him shamelessly from the moment they slapped the cuffs on him in the murder of Martin, was nothing more than a self-serving sham.
Zimmerman is a violent man and his history in the years before he gunned down Martin served ample notice of that. The long train of arrests, altercations, and complaints against him included: an arrest for resisting an officer, a restraining order against him by a former fiancée, a charge of molesting a relative, his firing from a job securing illegal house parties, an attack during a counseling session, an altercation with a motorist, complaints from neighbors that he was overly aggressive, and more complaints about his aggressiveness from homeowners in the complex where he served as a neighborhood watchman. The trademark theme in this long and sordid checklist of Zimmerman’s antics was violence; both his resort to violence and the threat of violence. Yet in the weeks before his trial for killing Martin, there were endless leaks from the police, and Zimmerman’s defense attorneys, about Martin’s alleged unsavory character. The aim was to tar Martin as a violence-prone, drugged out, black thug. This was more than enough to convince Zimmerman’s ardent fans that Martin was indeed what Zimmerman, and his defense attorneys, sold them on, and that was that Martin, not Zimmerman, was the perpetrator of the violence that got him killed.
During the entire time that the barrage of slander was dumped on Martin, Zimmerman’s violent history was well-known and well-documented. Yet, other than a passing mention here and there in scattered newspaper columns, it was largely ignored, dismissed as irrelevant, or apologized for. At no point was it taken seriously enough to become a major factor in explaining why Martin was dead, and Zimmerman was the trigger man in the killing. His violence was neutered and rendered moot.
The reasons weren’t hard to find. Start with the victim, Martin, a young African-American, who conjured up the litany of racial stereotypes, and negative characterizations in the minds of many of young black males—gangs, drugs and violence, and lawlessness. Another was the swelling chorus of those who sought to make Zimmerman their poster boy of innocence in their ceaseless and unrelenting opposition and contempt for the civil rights leaders who went to bat for Martin and his family. Another reason still was that Zimmerman served a ready-made breathing symbol to tout the rash of stand your ground laws, and as a sort of reborn Charles Bronson, Death Wish, symbol of a guy who was not afraid to stand up to criminals. That first and foremost meant resorting to gun play to take one of them out. And yet another reason was that Zimmerman was a cash cow that brought in bushels of dollars and along the way his alleged victimhood boosted ratings for a gaggle of right wing TV and radio talk show gabbers.
Zimmerman’s violent prone proclivities meant nothing to them. In fact, it got in the way of their fraudulent image of him as a noble defender of person and property against the lawless black hordes. But the truth about Zimmerman was always there to see. If it had been seen, the likelihood is that Zimmerman would never have been engaged by homeowners or anyone else to act as their protector. The likelihood is that Sanford Police and local prosecutors would never have shirked their duty and let Zimmerman initially waltz away scot free on that fateful night he killed Martin. The likelihood is good that it would not have taken mass protests by civil rights leaders and the relentless persistence of Martin’s family and their attorneys to get the state to bring murder charges against him. The Likelihood is good that prosecutors would have mounted an all-out, full throated effort to make his violent history a compelling issue in court to underscore why Zimmerman was perfectly capable, even willing, to commit murder during a violent encounter.
If at any point the violent Zimmerman, not the put upon Zimmerman that was cynically crafted by his defenders and many in the media, had been put on full display to the world, the outcome of the Martin tragedy might have been far different. In fact, there’s the good possibility that Martin might still be alive. One thing is almost certain, that given the violence that has figured in just about everything that Zimmerman has touched, his latest arrest for violence won’t be the last. And each time it happens, it will proof once again that Zimmerman was never the victim he and his defenders conned the world into believing he was.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. His latest ebook ’47 Percent Negro’: A Chronicle of the Wackiest Racial Assaults on President Obama is now available (Amazon).
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson