On August 19, 1991, a Jewish man driving a station wagon in a motorcade fell behind and eventually got into an accident. The driver knew he was going to end up on the sidewalk, so he steered his vehicle away from all of the people he could see – yet ended up hitting a wall. The wall collapsed, killing 7-year-old Gavin Cato and seriously injuring his cousin, Angela. The two children were black, their parents immigrants from Guyana. City EMS and Hatzalah (an all-volunteer private Jewish EMS service) both arrived. City EMS directed one of the two Hatzalah units to take the driver to the hospital for his own safety; another Hatzalah unit stayed to help extricate the children from the rubble and transport the children to the hospital.
Crown Heights has very high numbers of blacks and Jews, and the two had long kept an uneasy relationship. When 22-year-old driver Yosef Lifsh averted one tragedy only to unleash another that day, long-dormant tensions almost immediately hit the ignition point and the neighborhood was overtaken in a racial flashover of epic proportions.
When city EMS workers arrived, Lifsh was being pulled from his vehicle and beaten by black witnesses – some the very people he had desperately tried to avoid hitting. A large crowd gathered. Lifsh tried to help the children but was eventually beaten back, and when the ambulance services arrived, Lifsh was taken away to the rising fury of the crowd – which had begun to chant, “Jews! Jews! Jews!” The resulting uproar sparked a pogrom which, to this day, has never really been answered for.
Ari Goldman, then a reporter for the New York Times, was openly angry with his bosses for not reporting the truth about the riots. Jews, who had not shown violence, were brutally attacked by their black neighbors. A few hours after the riots began, some 20 black youths set upon Yankel Rosenbaum, an Australian Jew in the US to study for his doctorate. Yankel was beaten and stabbed. As he lay dying, he was able to identify the 16-year-old who stabbed him for police. The next day, black demonstrators chanted, “death to the Jews!” Jewish homes and businesses were looted and set on fire; bricks and bottles were thrown through windows and at Jews. At Gavin Cato’s funeral, race-baiting charlatan Al Sharpton made crude remarks referring to Jews as “diamond merchants” and said, “it’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of crown heights!”
Sharpton has since had the unmitigated gall to claim that he went to Crown Heights at the start of the riots to see “brick-throwing on all sides.” He’s talked about “extremists in the Jewish community” and how those supposed extremists called him out wrongly for referring to them as diamond merchants. He claimed that he should have talked about how precious Yankel Rosenbaum was as he eulogized Gavin Cato, but failed to mention that he was too busy challenging Jews to “pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house!” Even more astonishing, he has the temerity to say that we shouldn’t be too concerned with who is the “greater victim”.
Lemrick Nelson, Jr. was acquitted of murder charges in the death of Rosenbaum despite video evidence showing his involvement. He was later found guilty on federal charges of depriving Rosenbaum of his civil rights. Only one other rioter faced any charges; nobody else was arrested or brought to justice, and not one acceptable apology has ever been offered to the Jewish community in Crown Heights for the outrageous crimes committed against them in August of 1991. Yet we have never seen Jewish protests or outrage; we haven’t seen Jewish youths go on rampages down black streets. Instead, they have maintained their dignity and used their intelligence to call out the flagrant anti-Semitic acts during the riots and the lack of concern on the part of the press or the authorities.
Fast forward to February 26, just one month ago. 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has just gone to stay with his father in Sanford, Florida and on a rainy day walks to a convenience store for iced tea and candy. He has his hood pulled low over his face. As he walks back to his father’s house, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman spots him and calls police to tell them he’s following a young black man who is acting suspiciously. After a long spate of break-ins and violent crimes in the gated community, Zimmerman hears a dispatcher tell him not to follow Trayvon and goes back to his SUV.
The story gets hairy from there. The only eyewitnesses say they heard someone scream for help and came to see Trayvon standing over Zimmerman, banging his head against the sidewalk. Several 911 calls are placed. A gunshot is heard. The voices go silent. When police arrive, they find Zimmerman bleeding from his nose and the back of his head, a single round discharged; Trayvon is lying face-down, a bullet wound to his chest, dead. Other witnesses made claims that couldn’t be corroborated. Zimmerman tells the police that Trayvon attacked him from behind, knocked him down and beat him, eventually leaving him with no option but to shoot him in self-defense.
Since the incident, tensions have reached the boiling point yet again, with members of the black community spewing vile hatred for Zimmerman, claiming he’s a white racist (in fact, he’s Hispanic). Trayvon’s family has claimed he was just a good boy. Pictures of Trayvon as a 12- and 13-year-old, smiling in his football uniform, have been widely circulated. A picture of Zimmerman after an arrest in which charges were dropped has been widely circulated. Strange facts have begun to emerge: Trayvon was with his father because he’d been suspended from school after getting caught with marijuana. Zimmerman was actually well-liked by his neighbors and had thwarted at least one known break-in attempt.
Just like they did during the Crown Heights riots, the press has made a mess of the story. They’ve provided extremely biased coverage. They haven’t challenged a single aspect of their own story. They’re not reporting on Spike Lee tweeting Zimmerman’s address or the death threats Zimmerman has received; they haven’t called out the New Black Panther Party for openly putting a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head. Instead, they report only on the emotionally charged family demanding justice without questioning whether their son may have actually attacked a man. Yes, it is tragic that Trayvon died. It is unthinkable that we would allow mob justice to take over in America and a travesty that nobody is asking questions before taking action. We should have learned after Crown Heights.
The title of this post is meant to get your attention. I hope it has. We could all end up being George Zimmerman someday – accused of a hate crime you didn’t commit, the people in your corner being ignored by the public when they say you’re not a hatemonger or a thug, with extremist groups so ready to take your life that they’d offer a large sum of money to anyone willing to deliver you to them. If for no other reason than the fact that the truth is often distorted and we could one day be the targets of unfounded rage, we should defend Zimmerman’s rights and shout down the mob. If warranted, we should be willing to do violence to be sure the mob is stopped.
We all know the images being circulated of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. We’ve become well-acquainted with them. What if someone showed you different images of the two? What would you think then? Well, here you go…
NOTE: it would appear, according to a commenter, that Twitchy did, in fact, acknowledge that the photo previously posted here was NOT of Trayvon. While I didn’t get the photo from Twitchy, I feel it necessary to remove the photo and put another one up – this one actually of Trayvon. I maintain that the more recent photos of Trayvon have been deliberately hidden from the public.