COTTO: How Trayvon became St. Martin

The answer transcends politics and challenges us to become more informed citizens. Photo: St. Trayvon

FLORIDA, August 16, 2013 — At long last, the Trayvon Martin shooting’s aftermath is beginning to fade from public view. While serious questions still remain about the legality of Angela Corey’s prosecutorial tactics, George Zimmerman is no longer the featured act in a media circus bar none.

The sleepy Florida port city of Sanford can finally recover from the negative publicity which Martin’s death generated. 

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Yesterday, this column ran a story about how journalists, principally, played a role in demonizing Zimmerman to an almost unfathomable extent. This demonization is not only bad for Zimmerman, needless to say, but the country as a whole. If the public cannot trust reporters to report the news, then what positive end does the mass media serve? 

A tough, but honest question if there ever was one.

Moving beyond Zimmerman, Martin himself had quite a checkered history which most people did not learn of until long after the shooting. Some probably wonder how such a thing could take place, especially in our age of information technology.  

In order to learn the answer, one must go back to a time before Martin was killed. Documents from a Freedom Information Act request revealed that the teen was engaged in unfortunate activities at his suburban Miami high school.

SEE RELATED: COTTO: How George Zimmerman became a public enemy

Miami-Dade Schools Police Department Chief Charles Hurley, who has since stepped down from his post, spoke about Martin in a sworn affidavit last year. Martin was caught writing graffiti on school property, and his case was handled in an irregular manner.

“In this case, T.M., or any other youth in similar cases, and evaluate the totality of circumstance and issue either a warning and give it back to the administration to handle,” Hurley told.

“We can in fact, of course issue a civil citation which is an arrest diversion program which was actually created by this police department and authored under my time as a sergeant and a commander here at Miami-Dade Schools Police Department. Or we can in fact, make a full blown arrest because technically there was damage and defacing of school property.

“There was probable cause to make this arrest and we know who the person was that committed this damage. In this interest in taking that approach it does nothing to benefit the child and the officer in this case should be commended for exercising discretion and referring it back to the school administration for administrative purposes.”

SEE RELATED: The O’Reilly/Sharpton racial debate: Crusader vs Opportunist

The story does not end here.

“(S)ometime in February, shortly before the child was killed he had another contact with our police department in which he was found to be in possession or close proximity of an empty marijuana bag or bag with small amount of marijuana residue and possibly some other type of contraband, both a misdemeanor,” Hurley explained afterward. “Just like the criminal mischief case I spoke about, a misdemeanor.

“The officer once again exercised tremendous constraint and discretion of which has been my chief concern as the chief of this police department and that is changing the philosophy of this police department as it relates to being heavy handed and arresting juveniles.

“Particularly, children of color, minority children. Particularly, minority boys, such as African-American boys. The child once again was handed back to the school administration and subsequently suspended. It is during that time of suspension where this boy was visiting his father in Sanford where he was killed.” 

It gets even more interesting.

Sanford Police Department Sergeant Randy Smith, who retired earlier in the year after being promoted to lieutenant, helped Detective Chris Serino prepare Martin’s victimology report. MDSPD Detective Steven Hadley gave Smith details about the teen’s past.

“(T)he ‘9 page’ report sent by Hadley to Lieutenant Smith at SPD was the report for ‘criminal mischief’, i.e., the graffiti….However, subsequent to that report, Hadley discovered the ‘found property’ report of the stolen jewelry,” Sundance of The Conservative Tree House, a popular blog which made the FOIA request, told The Washington Times Communities last month. 

“Now, it gets weird, after Hadley sent the report to Smith, who was compiling the data to assist Detective Serino ― the report mysteriously vanished. Vanished because it was not mentioned in the finished victimology report that Serino completed and attested to. 

“However, in May of this year during discovery, the nine-page report showed up in an FDLE document dump to the defense. This was mentioned as just one of the valid reasons for O’Mara and West to file for sanctions against the State for discovery violations.

“Why is this pertinent?

“Because it was only after we published the FOIA outlining Hadley’s sworn affidavit sending it to Smith, and after we posed the question why was it not in the victimology report, that Bernie De La Rionda began mentioning the Conservative Tree House in court proceedings.   The first hearing after we published the deception, de la Rionda mentioned our site three times.

“And, it was only after that hearing that de la Rionda inserted the report in a 150-page document release to the defense. But by that time the defense had picked up on our question about the FOIA discovery. Prior to that, the defense never even knew to inquire, because for all intents and purposes it never existed, because Serino never used it.”

Law enforcement shouldn’t shoulder the blame alone for facts not getting out to the masses. The media did a job of its own; one might even say that journalists willingly allowed themselves to be used as agitprop amplifiers.

“On Tuesday February 28th [2012] after meeting with lead detective Serino, Tracy Martin contacted Benjamin Crump, from the law firm Parks and Crump,” Sundance stated. “In turn Crump hired Sanford attorney Natalie Jackson. Subsequently by Monday March 5th, two days after Trayvon was laid to rest, a specific and intentional strategy to manufacture ‘media evidence’ was apparently created by Benjamin Crump and Natalie Jackson, presented and then sold by the newly hired Publicist Ryan Julison. They began a systematic campaign of optical control. 

“First, they created the outline of their victim ‘Trayvon Martin’. The goal in this phase was to portray a personality, and to construct a public image of Trayvon Martin to sell to the media. They needed to create the ‘hook’ for interest. The construct need not be real, indeed the outcome was far from the truth, it just needed to be the most marketable for the purpose of ‘brand imagery’.

“They even went so far as to trademark the brand they were creating.  Control was the key element, as they set about their sales pitches and storylines. Everything stemming after that March 5th date was an outcome of their intentional desire to control the narrative and formulate the construct of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. 

“Within 3 days of Trayvon Martin’s death his family hired a media consulting firm. Within two weeks of Trayvon Martin’s death his mother, Sybrina Fulton, filed legal documents to trademark his name. Subsequently Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton set out on a cross country tour to collect money.  After the coast to coast tour, they took the scheme international and headed to Europe to continue exploiting the financial opportunity.”

If anything, the contemporary canonization of Trayvon Martin should teach people to think for themselves. Accepting the established media narrative, or not reading between the lines, so to speak, are two of the surest paths to costly ignorance.

Had the public been informed about Martin’s background, as well as the public relations blitz which his posthumous supporters launched, would there have been the pressure necessary for bringing Zimmerman to trial?

While hardline race hustlers and miscreant activists of various stripes would certainly attempt to cause trouble just for the sake of it, who would have taken them seriously if the facts about Martin were widely disseminated?

The aftermath of Martin’s death has proven not only tragic for him and Zimmerman, but American society as a whole. 

Inquiring minds should not contemplate what people immersed in our pop-culture will fall for, but whether or not there is something which they won’t believe, however outlandish this might be.     

Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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