In what may be the most ill-advised letter ever penned by a defender of someone accused of a racially motivated homicide, the conservative Daily Caller claims that an unidentified “family member” of Trayvon Martin’s shooter George Zimmerman sent a paranoid letter to Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday accusing him and much of the “black community” of racial bias:
I realize that you are no doubt aware of the events that took place on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. While the facts of the case have not been made public yet, many in the black community have formed what many are calling a “lynch mob” against George Zimmerman. The rhetoric from the black community has ranged from benign to incredibly violent. Among those that have interjected themselves include Congressmen (and women), the Congressional Black Caucus, The NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Spike Lee, President Barack Obama, and the most violent, the New Black Panthers. . . .
I am not writing this letter to discuss the intricacies of the case because, as you know, the investigation by the Florida Attorney General is not complete. I am writing you to ask you why, when the law of the land is crystal clear, is your office not arresting the New Black Panthers for hate crimes? The Zimmerman family is in hiding because of the threats that have been made against us, yet the DOJ has maintained an eerie silence on this matter. These threats are very public. If you haven’t been paying attention just do a Google search and you will find plenty. Since when can a group of people in the United States put a bounty on someone’s head, circulate Wanted posters publicly, and still be walking the streets? Many people that I know (and many that I don’t) believe that racism is the only reason that this group has not been rounded up yet. Again, we are not talking about racism on the side of George Zimmerman. There is no possible explanation for why this is not the case. The entire world has seen these threats and we can all only assume that your office has as well. . . . I would surmise that, based on your own definition of a hate crime, you have chosen not to arrest these individuals based solely on your race. There is no other explanation.
Let’s be absolutely clear. The New Black Panther Party is a repulsive, bigoted organization that’s classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their actions are routinely indefensible, and their recent announcement that they are offering a $10,000 reward for the “CAPTURE AND CITIZENS ARREST FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN” cannot be squared with the rule of law — even though Florida officials have also been negligent in their own duty to investigate and prosecute a man who appears very likely to have killed an innocent teenager in cold blood.
But there is also a much more plausible explanation for the fact that the United States Department of Justice has not brought charges for this bounty on Zimmerman. It’s not at all clear that their actions violate a federal criminal law. Federal hate crimes statutes forbid the use of “dangerous weapon[s]” to “cause bodily injury” to someone because of their race, and they also forbid threats of force that hinder certain protected activities, such as voting or receiving federal financial assistance. But the New Black Panthers’ specific actions likely do not constitute a federal crime, no matter how deplorable they may be.
More importantly, however, there’s something bizarre and disturbing about this Zimmerman family member’s attempt to paint George as the victim of racial animus, given George Zimmerman’s likely role in a racially motivated homicide.