February 5, 2013
Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin (AP Photo/Martin Family)

Eighteen years ago today, Trayvon Benjamin Martin was born to Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Nearly a year ago, their son was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., who viewed Trayvon as “a real suspicious guy.”  Instead, the unarmed teenager was found with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea from 7-Eleven and a bullet hole in his chest from Zimmerman’s Kel-Tec 9 mm PF-9.

Zimmerman now awaits trial for second-degree murder. A trial that his attorney is trying to delay. But he will have his day in court. Meanwhile, the court of public opinion is working overtime. Depending on whom you talk to, Zimmerman is an unrepentant murderer and Trayvon had it coming.

That Trayvon brings out the worst in people is well known. What continues to shock me isn’t so much how widely held the negative view of him is, it is how openly people express their racism. Thanks to Wonkette, we know about Todd Kincannon.  He is the former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party who felt compelled to mention Trayvon in a raunchy tweet about the Super Bowl. After reading his obnoxious Twitter feed, feel free to reach for the Purell. As if Kincannon’s first Trayvon tweet weren’t bad enough, the filterless fellow went even farther in another shameful tweet.

.@DAWNCATHERINE I appreciate you! I agree that Trayvon Martin was a dangerous thug who needed to be put down like a rabid dog.

In a light rain on Feb. 26, Trayvon was talking on his cellphone with his girlfriend.  He was returning from the 7-Eleven to his father’s girlfriend’s apartment where he was staying after being suspended from school after being found with an empty marijuana baggie. Trayvon told his friend that he noticed a strange man following him. “We don’t need you to do that,” the police personnel told Zimmerman. But he did so anyway. The ensuing confrontation left Zimmerman with head and face injuries. And it left Trayvon dead.

The series of events outlined by Zimmerman for the police suggests an improbable scenario that even the DNA evidence doesn’t support. Yet, nothing we know now suggests that Trayvon “was a dangerous thug who needed to be put down like a rabid dog.” To think otherwise is to ascribe the worst assumptions and motives to an unarmed kid who drew the attention of a man with a gun.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.