Commentary: The Zimmerman Family’s Folly

By releasing a letter thanking supporters of her son, George Zimmerman’s mother is doing no favors for the man standing trial for shooting Trayvon Martin.

Posted: 04/12/2013 05:14 PM EDT
Commentary: The Zimmerman Family’s Folly

Family devotion and loyalty are powerful forces, indeed. They are the fuel that allows us to see the best in our loved ones. But there is a point where that devoutness can produce excesses, even causing people to turn a blind eye to the failings and unrestrained behavior of relatives to whom there is strong commitment.

If anyone qualifies for that description it is Gladys Zimmerman, the mother of one-time neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin a year ago in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Mother Zimmerman published a letter recently that was as stunning for its delusional take on facts as it was insensitive to the family of the slain 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In the letter, the mother of George Zimmerman writes that the anniversary of her son’s arrest for the gun death of Trayvon Martin was being marked by “the Zimmerman family as the day the justice system failed us as Americans, and as a consequence an innocent man was arrested for a crime he did not commit, solely to placate the masses.”

She continued: “There was absolutely no justifiable reason my son should have been charged for a crime he didn’t commit and there was no just reason he should find himself incarcerated either.” She noted further that “the media, with the help of social media made it their prerogative to judge and sentence George before and after his arrest. Even members of Congress and self-proclaimed 'activists' used and routinely use to this day the term 'murderer' when they speak of him – in effect they are re-enforcing the only acceptable judicial outcome in their eyes.”

It is a pathetic tirade that somehow manages to ignore the fact that George Zimmerman took it upon himself to follow and shoot to death an unarmed 17-year-old student because of the expectation that the teenager was somehow up to no good. Gladys Zimmerman seems to ignore the fact that, were it not for her son, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

It is further disturbing because she seems to believe that a man who shoots and kills a another man in a dark gated community should be held to no level of accountability let alone legal responsibility for that misdeed. In the irrational world of Gladys Zimmerman, it was a miscarriage of justice for her son to get arrested and face trial for the death of a young, African-American teenager. We can presume that she would have preferred to see him released and even congratulated. Even more unsettling is the fact that the letter offers not a shred of remorse or sympathy for the family of the dead teenager who, by the way, lost his life as a result of the violent actions of her son.

The Zimmerman’s family has been nothing if not a public relations nightmare for the man who is now facing second-degree murder charges for Trayvon’s death. Last year, Shellie Zimmerman, the defendant’s wife, ran into trouble by getting arrested on perjury charges after she was accused of lying to a judge about the family finances.

Then, there was Robert Zimmerman, the brother of the accused killer, who faced widespread public criticism last month for comparing Trayvon Martin with another young Black student who was accused of shooting a baby in the face.

Given their tendency toward embarrassing behavior and awkward musings, the Zimmerman family might be well advised to remain as inconspicuous as possible, at least until the trial ends later this year. It would certainly be a blessing to the family of Trayvon Martin.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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