Reader Daniel R. alerted us to this one. It’s in an opinion piece on ESPN’s Grantland. The story, by Wesley Morris, is about a photograph of the Miami Heat NBA team, all dressed in hoodies to identify with Trayvon Martin.
Several paragraphs down, Morris writes:
He [Martin] triggered the suspicion of the gunman, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator who, in defiance of police orders, followed Martin for several blocks and shot him.
This version of events is common, but is also probably wrong: Here’s the transcript of the 9-11 call.
Zimmerman: We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy. It’s Retreat View Circle. The best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.
911 dispatcher: OK, is he White, Black, or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
This is the part that NBC deceptively edited, and then apologized for.
911 dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?
Zimmerman: Yeah, a dark hoodie like a gray hoodie. He wore jeans or sweat pants and white tennis shoes. He’s here now … he’s just staring.
911 dispatcher: He’s just walking around the area, the houses? OK.
Zimmerman: Now he’s staring at me.
911 dispatcher: OK, you said that’s 1111 Retreat View or 111?
Zimmerman: That’s the clubhouse.
911 dispatcher: He’s near the clubhouse now?
Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming toward me. He’s got his hands in his waist band. And he’s a black male.
So we have on a dark and rainy night, the as of yet unidentified male who has been walking around in a hoodie and staring at houses is now staring at Zimmerman and has his hands in his waistband. If you’re George Zimmerman, how do you interpret this? It was not unreasonable to interpret Martin as a threat, and possibly armed.