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Duly Noted

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012, 8:32 am

The Smear Campaign Against Trayvon Martin

By Lindsay Beyerstein

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Rally for Trayvon Martin, Union Square.   Sunset Parkerpix, Creative Commons.

Jude Legum of Think Progress catalogs the smear campaign against Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old black boy who was shot dead by local crank George Zimmerman after walking to the store to buy Skittles.

This is probably the most shocking item on the whole stomach-turning list because it raises questions about bias or malfeasance within the Sanford Police Department:

2. The Sanford Police selectively leaked irrelevant, negative information about Martin. The authorities told the Orlando Sentinel this morning that Trayvon was suspended from school for ten days “after being found with an empty marijuana baggie.” There is no evidence that Martin was under the influence of drugs at the time of his death, nor would prior possession of marijuana be a reason for killing him. It’s unclear what the relevance of the leak was, other than to smear Martin. [Orlando Sentinel]

The chief of the Sanford police has already stepped down over allegations that his department mishandled the investigation of Martin's shooting:

The Sanford Police Department is under fire for its handling of the investigation and for accepting the shooter’s self-defense claim. Accused of lying to reporters and Trayvon’s parents, protecting the shooter and ignoring key witnesses, Lee decided to step aside Thursday. His decision came a day after a 3-2 Sanford city commission vote of “no confidence” in the chief.

The fact that someone at the Sanford PD is helping to attack Martin in the media suggests that the departure of the chief didn't solve the problem. The local special prosecutor and the federal Justice Department should take note.

Read more here:

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (, a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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