Just the Facts, Ma’am
On Sunday the Richmond Register had an editorial cartoon on the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, FL. The cartoon showed what appeared (as best as a political cartoon can) a bald, middle-aged looking Caucasian man holding a young black guy at gun point. The next panel showed the black youth laying on the ground.
Trayvon Martin did not deserve to be shot by Mr. Zimmerman, plain and simple. But on the other hand, the entire story has evolved into a raging racial frenzy fueled by a media more interested in a sensational story than in reporting the facts.
There is enough blame on all to go around, Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch guy should not have been armed in the first place, and probably pressed Martin more than he should. The media ignored facts of the story at the time provided them by the Sanford Police department. The Sanford Police Department could have handled the situation better. And, if stories coming out now by witnesses are true, Martin should not have come back to threaten Zimmerman who, supposedly, was getting back into his vehicle.
Below is a letter I wrote to the Richmond Register on lack of accuracy in reporting this story. Because of this, the situation has gotten so out of hand that true justice may now be impossible to attain, and that makes a tragic event even more terrible.
Your editorial cartoon on the Trayvon Martin shooting was an example of what is wrong with the state of the media today. The cartoon bought in to the less than factual reporting by people who want this to be a racial issue.
The portrayal of Mr. Zimmerman in your cartoon appears to be Caucasian; Zimmerman is in fact Hispanic. The Sanford police department and witnesses gave statements to the Orlando Sentinel that Zimmerman was on the ground, screaming for help, being beaten by Martin. When police arrived, Zimmerman was bleeding from his face and back of his head. He also had grass stains on his back seeming to confirm the witness accounts. Police played the 911 tape for Martin’s father who tells the police that voice screaming for help was not his son’s.
Reports of Martin being a model student are also false. He was under a five- day suspension from school and the family’s attorneys have had his school records sealed. If he was a good student, why not release them?
The media should have done a better job of reporting this story. But in reality, the truth of this story would not have made sensational headlines, would not have sold papers nor generated higher ratings.
Largely ignored while this story has been sensationalized is the story of two black youths chasing a 13 year- old Kansas City student home from school dousing him with gas and flicking a Bic at him screaming, “This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy.” He suffered first- degree burns on his face and did not know the perpetrators.
Tragic stories like these happen daily, and while the media can’t report them all, choosing which facts to report or ignore only lends credence to their falling credibility.
Robert New, Berea