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New Reports Emerge In Trayvon Martin Case


This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Michel Martin is away this week. Coming up, some people say that having an African-American president has changed the way the country talks about race, but has that change been for the better? One columnist doesn't think so. That's in a moment. First we want to get an update on a case that has sparked a passionate debate about race and ethnicity.

That's the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who was fatally shot a month ago by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman has not been charged. Frances Robles has been covering this story for the Miami Herald. I spoke with her earlier today, when she joined us from Sanford, Florida. Frances Robles welcome to the program.

FRANCES ROBLES: Thanks for having me.

LYDEN: So, in the last day or so we've been learning that Trayvon has had some problems, that he was suspended from school because he was caught with an empty bag with traces of marijuana in it and a couple other things. How is this new information playing into the case, if at all?

ROBLES: I think what you're beginning to see is kind of a push back, and I think some of it is coincidence that it's happening at the same time, and some of it, I think, is very concerted on behalf of George Zimmerman and his attorney. Where they're trying to say, like, OK George Zimmerman has taken a beating for a month, let's try to get George Zimmerman's side of the story out there. And then you have some kind of ill willed bloggers and anonymous people out there, who are starting a campaign on the Internet to hurt Trayvon Martin's reputation, showing unflattering photos of him.

Some of which, actually may not even be real pictures. Some of them might be hoaxes. People are digging up his My Space and a Face book that actually was not his. A Twitter that may actually be his, I'm not sure yet. And they're trying to say, OK, let's make sure that we didn't rush to judgment. And then I think some people are just trying to dig dirt, unfortunately.

LYDEN: Here's a clip, released yesterday, by his father and his mother - Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton. Let's listen to it.


TRACY MARTIN: Trayvon is gone. He will not be returning to us. Even in death they are still disrespecting my son, and I feel that that's a shame.

SABRINA FULTON: They've killed my son and now they're trying to kill his reputation.

LYDEN: Frances, is there any sense, though, that people might have rushed to judgment against George Zimmerman?

ROBLES: I think that there's definitely a lot of reflection going on in the last few days. You have more people saying well, you know, he wasn't just attacked he was getting a real beating, or maybe there was a witness who saw it. A moment of reflection to say, well, if he's getting a beating, maybe it was justified homicide. We're not sure. And I think that you're going to start seeing that questioning, that did the media as an entity, jump into a situation like they did with the lacrosse players, with Duke.

LYDEN: There was a big rally last night in Sanford. Tell us who was there and what the scene was like?

ROBLES: There was a lot of people came up from Miami. Jesse Jackson was there. Al Sharpton was there. A lot of people in the community, a lot of people just demanding answers. Saying OK, you know, you've had a month, what's going on? What's going to happen next here? And one thing that I thought that was very interesting, is that as you're seeing this sort of shift in the blogoshpere, if you will, of, you know, was George Zimmerman justified in this shooting or not?

People here, who were protesting, it's irrelevant. It's irrelevant of whether - if Trayvon Martin got caught with and a book bag full of wedding bands, was irrelevant. And they want answers to know why this man got to go home instead of getting arrested and being taken to court.

LYDEN: And there has been absolutely no indication that Trayvon Martin was anything other than unarmed?

ROBLES: There's no question that he was unarmed. The police have always said that, that it was skittles and iced tea that he had. The question is, did he punch this guy in the face and start knocking him about to the degree that this guy decided to shoot him. And so, that chronology of who was scared first, if you will, is we're going to be the real thing that hinges this case.

LYDEN: Frances Robles is a reporter for The Miami Herald. She joined us from Sanford, Florida. Frances thank you very much.

ROBLES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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