Extremists React to Trayvon Martin Controversy

The Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin inflamed extremists of many stripes, as groups on both sides of the racial divide threatened armed protests and radical black separatist leaders suggested vigilante justice for the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed 17-year-old in Sanford, Fla.

In late March, a Florida spokesman for the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), Mikhail Muhammad, announced the start of a “Wanted: Dead or Alive” campaign, offering a $10,000 bounty for the capture of George Zimmerman, the man who claimed self-defense and was not initially charged for killing the black teen. The New Black Liberation Militia (NBLM), an even more radical group led by the NBPP’s former “National Field Marshal,” Minister Prince Najee Shaka Muhammad, announced plans to conduct a “citizen’s arrest” of Zimmerman.

Not to be outdone, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), the country’s largest neo-Nazi group, said that its white foot soldiers would be conducting patrols in Seminole County to protect “local citizens … who are concerned for the safety of their families.” The NSM’s announcement warned of imminent racial violence, saying that “the Melting Pot is brimming over like a powder keg ready to explode into the streets.”

Partly in response to this amped-up rhetoric, the NBPP announced its own plans to conduct “self-defense” training for blacks in the Sanford area.

In the end, the threats turned out to be little more than talk. Sanford Police, in an E-mail to the Intelligence Report, said there were no reports confirming that the NBPP had actually gone through with its plan to conduct self-defense training. The NSM patrols also failed to materialize, although the group did post a photo showing two members holding a swastika-emblazoned flag near Sanford City Hall.

These groups weren’t the only extremists impassioned by the shooting and the ensuring national outcry. In an essay posted on his website, California State University, Long Beach psychology professor Kevin MacDonald, one of the premiere voices in academic racism and anti-Semitism, argued that the media attention surrounding the case was part of a Jewish conspiracy creating a new “anti-White religion” with a deceptive “narrative of Blacks as innocent victims of Whites.” During a March 26 appearance on ex-Klansman David Duke’s radio show, he said: “Certainly, it is the case that, that, that white people have stereotypes of blacks as criminals, but it reflects the reality that blacks are crim-,” catching himself and then saying that black people are “much more likely to be criminals.”

Gun rights advocates, incensed by questions about whether Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law (cited by police as their reason for not arresting Zimmerman the night he shot Martin) might have played a role in the shooting, also piped up. In an article published the week after Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, far-right attack dog Ann Coulter — who had earlier likened critics of Zimmerman to a Klan lynch mob — wrote that if it were true, as some alleged, that Zimmerman killed Martin because of his race, then “every black person in America should get a gun and join the National Rifle Association, America’s oldest and most august civil rights organization.”