George Zimmerman has been pretty quiet since he became the focus of one of the most racially-charged crime stories in years, and he should probably stay that way because the couple of times he's spoken out, it hasn't gone well.
Most recently, Zimmerman made himself heard during his bail hearing Friday, unexpectedly apologizing to Trayvon Martin's family for their loss. It was a move meant to humanize the guy who many see as a monster, but the family didn't appreciate it and on Monday Zimmerman's attorney said Zimmerman wouldn't have made it if he'd known how the family felt. But anyone paying attention to the news would probably have known that.
On Friday, Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump "told the press following the hearing that Zimmerman’s apology was poorly timed and insincere," the CBS Miami affiliate My33 reported. On Monday, Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara "said on CBS This Morning he did not understand the victim’s family would find the timing of his remarks inappropriate." He should have known that. Last week, Martin's family denied Zimmerman's request for a private meeting, and at the time Crump told the African American news site TheGrio:
At this time it's not appropriate for them to meet, and we think that Zimmerman's request is very self serving, fifty days later [after the killing] -- the day before his bond hearing.
And the conclusion is simply this: he never apologized on his website, or on the voicemail that he left for his friend [Frank Taaffe.] He never apologized when the police talked to him. So the public will have to evaluate his motives.
Not only did Zimmerman not apologize on his website, which is the only other forum in which he's spoken publicly, he got criticized for posting a picture of some graffiti widely seen as racist. He posted a photo of a spray-painted scrawl, "Long live George Zimmerman," that just happened to have been sprayed across the wall of Ohio State University's Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center. At the time, OSU Vice Provost Valerie Lee told the Columbus Dispatch: "By using the image from the Hale Center, the site minimizes the pain that African-American students and their allies feel about the hate crime that occurred on this campus."
The image of the graffiti has been removed from the site, and it's not really clear Zimmerman knew the context in which it was scrawled in the first place. He probably just saw a picture of what looked like popular support and posted it to his site. But this whole case is so sticky and already such a divisive issue, Zimmerman would probably do better to avoid surprise statements from here on out. Based on his two strikes so far, he stands a much better chance of putting his foot in his mouth than he does of adding to the dialogue (or his own defense).