On more than one occasion regarding the subject of the Trayvon Martin shooting, I have warned people about jumping to conclusions ahead of a thorough investigation. Unfortunately, we have a great demonstration of exactly how that can have potentially deadly consequences. Filmmaker Spike Lee thought he’d teach George Zimmerman a lesson by tweeting his home address to the world, apparently hoping for a little vigilante justice. However, Lee tweeted the wrong address — twice — and instead put an elderly couple at risk:
Filmmaker Spike Lee made waves on Twitter last week when he re-tweeted to his 200,000 followers (h/t Twitchy) what was thought to be George Zimmerman’s home address in Sanford, Florida. Mr. Zimmerman told Sanford police last month that he fatally shot 17 year old Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
However, the Edgewater Circle address Mr. Lee re-tweeted out is not part of the gated Retreat at Twin Lakes where the shooting took place and where Mr. Zimmerman lives. The area is not even a gated community.
In fact, I took a drive to that Edgewater Circle address that so many on Twitter re-tweeted and cursed, and I discovered through a neighbor, named Tim, who lives across the street from the address, that not only does George Zimmerman not live at the lakeside house but a woman by the name of Elaine does.
As of this morning, Lee has not removed the tweets from his feed, according to Twitchy. Perhaps Lee will “do the right thing” by this morning and delete them, because the couple that does live at the address Lee tweeted are understandably frightened about their safety. The Smoking Gun reports on the McClains and the attention they have received from Lee’s messaging:
In an interview tonight, Elaine McClain told TSG that she and her husband were “afraid” due to the online linking of her address to Zimmerman. “We’re keeping everything locked,” she said. McClain added that the couple was particularly unnerved by a letter mailed to them at their home. On the envelope, she said, were printed the words “Taste The Rainbow,” the slogan for Skittles. Martin was carrying a pack of Skittles and a can of ice tea when he was gunned down by Zimmerman.
McClain said her husband returned the envelope unopened to the post office.
And how did this happen? Poor research and jumping to conclusions:
Besides overlooking the different middle initial, perhaps that answer is connected to an old voter record for a “William George Zimmerman” at the Edgewater Circle property. That registration, which dates back to 1995, is for a 41-year-old man. The Zimmerman who shot Martin is 28.
Elaine McClain identified William George Zimmerman as her son, noting that he has not lived at the Edgewater Circle residence for seven years.
Jim Treacher points out the irony in this story:
If you’re against vigilantes taking matters into their own hands, except when it comes to dealing with George Zimmerman, #YouMightBeALiberal.
I notice Spike hasn’t been working much lately. I hope he’s been saving his money. Lawyers can be expensive.
Even if the address had been correct, it still would have been the wrong thing to do. Lee should be ashamed of himself.
The original concern in this shooting incident was that the investigation into the shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old seemed cursory and insufficient. Thanks to the national attention the case has draw, we now have two major investigations under way, one by the Department of Justice (an investigation endorsed by Rep. Allen West) and another by the state of Florida. While it’s unlikely that the media will stop reporting tidbits of the story without knowing their full context, the rest of us should wait to see what facts can be established by these two investigations before jumping to any more conclusions — and before putting innocent people at risk like the McClains.
Update: Danny Glover puts Lee and Marcus Higgins in the Twitter Hall of Shame.