New York, NY, April 10, 2012 … A growing list of domestic extremists is seeking to enflame the situation surrounding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), various white supremacists and Black racist groups are exploiting publicity surrounding the case and promoting racism, hatred and even anti-Semitism.
Extremists competing for attention in the aftermath of the shooting range from the anti-Semitic New Black Panther Party, which has organized protests in Sanford since the shooting and whose members have offered a $10,000 reward for the "capture" of Zimmerman, to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, which says it is planning to carry out armed patrols in Sanford to protect local white citizens from alleged "racial violence" taking place there.
Among the more outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting, some extremists have even suggested that Zimmerman is in fact Jewish.
"It is deeply troubling that haters of all stripes are seeking to capitalize on the publicity surrounding the Trayvon Martin case in an effort to promote racism, bigotry and even anti-Semitism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The shooting of Trayvon Martin is a troubling case, but to add an element of racism and hate to the pressure-cooker environment surrounding this shooting is deplorable. As local and federal law enforcement continue to pursue their investigation, it is important for cooler heads to prevail and for Americans not to buy into the messages of hate and misinformation being promoted by domestic extremist groups."
Among the more troubling activities by extremists groups surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting:
- Members of the New Black Panther Party, the largest organized anti-Semitic and racist black militant group in America, have promoted and organized a number of activities in Sanford since the shooting. Members have offered a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman's capture, and the group's Florida representative, Mikhail Muhammad, has said Zimmerman "should be fearful for his life." The group released a flier on its web site with a photo of Zimmerman's face in the crosshairs and has promoted a "National Day of Action" and community patrols "to protest against racial violence and attacks." The New Black Panther Party's Chief of Staff in Tampa, Michelle Williams, spoke on the group's radio program on April 2, stating that, "I am for violence if non-violence means we continue to postpone a solution to the American Black man's problem just to avoid violence. … If someone put their hands on you, you better send that goddam cracker to the cemetery grave."
- The National Socialist Movement (NSM), the largest neo-Nazi group in the country, has claimed that they will carry out armed patrols in Sanford to protect local white citizens from alleged "racial violence" taking place there. "We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over," NSM Commander Jeff Schoep told a local newspaper.
- Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, a virulently anti-Muslim and anti-gay apostolic church based in Gainesville, Florida, has announced he is planning to hold a rally on April 21 in front of the Seminole County Courthouse in support of "the Constitutional Rights for George Zimmerman and Treyvon (sic) Martin" because "America is being corrupted, controlled and manipulated."
- Najee Muhammad, head of the Atlanta-based New Black Liberation Militia, announced his group's plans to arrest Zimmerman and to hand him over to federal authorities. "We'll find him. We've got his mug shot and everything," he said. Muhammad told SPLC Hatewatch that when he learned of the Zimmerman family's supposed "Jewish background," his reaction was "Uh-oh, ain't nothing going to happen to that family unless we do it."
- White supremacists have expressed racist and anti-Semitic views about the shooting. An article on the web site of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, a writer questioned why the mainstream media is calling Zimmerman "a white man instead of a Latino." On other racist forums some white supremacists, while describing Zimmerman in racist terms, have lauded him for killing a black teen. "If only we had more whites patrolling our neighborhoods and keeping the negroes in check like this mestizo did," one racist wrote on the white supremacist Internet forum, "Stormfront."
ADL has welcomed the Justice Department's investigation into the death of Martin, 17, who was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and has called the incident a potential hate crime punishable under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The League remains deeply troubled by allegations that Zimmerman used a racial slur to describe the victim shortly before the killing took place on Feb. 26.