Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (12/12/12)
I received yesterday the following English transcript of an interview of Robert Zimmerman, Jr., and his mother, Gladys Zimmerman. The interview was conducted by Jorge Ramos of Univision and forwarded to me by Elliott, an old friend at Firedoglake. [She's not old; I am] The interview was conducted in Spanish, Gladys Zimmerman’s native language.
On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM, Univision Network Public Relations wrote:
Below is the English-language transcript of Univision’s Spanish-language interview with Robert Zimmerman Jr. and Gladys Zimmerman. The Spanish-language transcript can be found following this transcript. If you have any questions, please contact Jose Zamora: firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNIVISION NEWS TRANSCRIPT
Program: Al Punto with Jorge Ramos
Content: Interview with Robert Zimmerman Jr. and Gladys Zimmerman
Air date: December 9, 2012
JR: Jorge Ramos
RZ: Robert Zimmerman Jr.
GZ: Gladys Zimmerman
JR: In his first conversation with Spanish-language TV, joining us here in the studio is Robert Zimmerman, George’s brother. Robert, thanks for being with us.
RZ: Hello, Jorge.
JR: Thank you very much for being here. Thank you. And via satellite, his mother, Gladys Zimmerman, who for safety reasons does not want her face to be shown. Mrs. Zimmerman, thanks for being with us.
GZ: You’re welcome. Hello, Jorge.
JR: Let me start with you. Of course, you’re Peruvian and speak Spanish very well, and this will make this interview with you much easier. The first question is, where is George at this time?
GZ: George is in Seminole County, under court order.
JR: What were the conditions the court imposed on him? Can he leave his home?
GZ: Oh, yes, he can leave home from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening.
JR: And does he do it or is he afraid he’ll be recognized?
GZ: There are days he has to do it, mostly for his mental health.
JR: Of course, I assume that at this time, beyond coming and going for basic necessities, I guess he’s not working or doing anything to make a living. Right?
GZ: Unfortunately, Jorge, no. And I doubt that in the future or near future he’ll be able to work and make a living.
JR: Let me start by talking about this case, and I understand that due to legal reasons, there are many things you cannot talk about. You tell me what you can and you cannot talk about. But…
JR: … when you first found out that your son had been involved in this incident in which he shot Trayvon Martin, how did you find out?
GZ: I found out from him.
JR: What did he tell you?
GZ: He told me he’d had an incident and that, unfortunately, he’d had to use a weapon to defend himself.
JR: Regarding the weapon, how is it that George has access to weapons? At home, was it customary to be armed? Was that something that the Zimmermans did?
GZ: Look, let me tell you, we have lived in Virginia most of our lives. We’ve lived there for 31 years, and George lived there for 17 years of his life. He was born there, grew up there, he graduated from high school there, and then he came to Florida. It’s in Florida that the law is different in the sense that people can get weapons, get a license and can carry them. The same thing happens in Virginia, but here I’ve noticed that people can get a weapon, what they call a concealed weapon, and carry the weapon, and it’s no big deal.
JR: And did you know that George had a weapon?
GZ. The reality is that I didn’t know that George had a weapon.
JR: And did you know if George was involved in neighborhood watch activities in the area where he lived?
GZ: Yes, I knew he was helping out, he was very worried about the home burglaries that had happened. I’m familiar with those houses, and I couldn’t believe there were so many burglaries, especially in a gated area, you know?
JR: Very well, and now, I want to get to the point. As you know, your son George is accused of Trayvon Martin’s death, and many people in the United States suspect that he did it for racial reasons. However, you and his lawyers insist that it wasn’t because of race, but rather to defend himself from a personal attack. What is your interpretation? What happened?
GZ: George is not a racist. My family is not racist. That will come out in the evidence. What will also come out in the evidence and what has been seen lately is the photo of my son after he was beaten up. My son defended himself for dear life. The young man who attacked him, for reasons we do not know, left a mark behind and thank God there is a photo that can show that mark. If it weren’t for that mark…
JR: Are you referring to the color photo that shows your son with wounds on his face?
GZ: Exactly. That photo that was turned over to the defense in black and white, and now it has been turned over, thank God, in color, shows how my son was attacked. According to young Martin’s autopsy, he had no marks on him, except the bullet that went into his chest, which unfortunately, killed him.
JR: Well, you say that George wasn’t racist. There are many people who assert that if Trayvon Martin hadn’t been wearing a hoodie and hadn’t been African-American, he’d be alive today. That is, they suggest that all this was motivated simply by the fact that Trayvon Martin was African-American.
GZ: No. This happened because Trayvon attacked my son. If Trayvon Martin hadn’t attacked my son in the savage way he did… Look, Mr. Ramos, if somebody punches you in the nose, I can’t imagine the pain it can cause. But to be punched in the nose, to fall down to the ground, to have someone jump on you and hit you fiercely and bust your head open every time you try to get up, and bang your head against the pavement, and for a neighbor to open the door and say, “Stop, because I’m going to call the cops,” and for that neighbor to provide the description of the person who was hitting him, the one who was lying on the ground, using what they call MMA style, mixed martial arts. I had never seen that sport, but I saw it on YouTube and I was shocked at people getting hit so aggressively.
JR: Now, wasn’t your son’s reaction in using a weapon excessive? Couldn’t he have defended himself in some other way?
GZ: Well, I can’t tell you because I’m not in his shoes. But the only thing I can tell you is this: show the photo of my son like that, in color, and play the tape, that tape in which he asks for help, in what many witnesses say is my son’s voice. Even Trayvon Martin’s father, Mr. Tracy Martin, says that it is my son’s voice. Show those two things together.
JR: I emphasize, you have told us in this show that George is not a racist. I understand, of course, that George and your son Robert went to Peru on several occasions, and you well know that in Latin America there is a lot of discrimination, not only against indigenous groups, but also among people who have darker skin. What did you teach your children regarding the discrimination we have in Latin America? How did you raise them?
GZ: Look, Mr. Ramos, in Peru we have a saying that basically says, “If you’re not one thing, you’re another,” which means that if you don’t have Indian blood in you, you probably have some African blood. In my family, we’re proud of our Afro-Peruvian heritage. My kids know their aunts and uncles; they know our roots, and my roots aren’t with non-Hispanic whites. My roots are Afro-Peruvian. So they have been brought up, not just here at home as a family, but in school, not to notice peoples’ skin color. I call them “my kids” because they are part of my family, because skin color doesn’t mean anything to me either.
JR: Mrs. Zimmerman, as you know, President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue when he said that if he had had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin. How do you respond to that?
GZ: Well, at the beginning it hurt a lot, but now that I know how things developed, because, honestly, Jorge, at the beginning I barely even watched TV. My husband and my doctors forbade me from watching TV. It has all been really traumatic, but now that I’ve seen how Trayvon Martin’s family’ lawyers have presented this case; I don’t blame the President, because they fooled him, too. All of this has to be set straight: all the lies that have been told by Mr. Crump, by Ms. Nathalie Jackson through Ryan Julison of Julison Communications. It all needs to come out, but they told a lie to the nation, to the whole world, and even the President himself.
JR: Mrs. Zimmerman…
GZ: That’s how I feel about this now.
JR: Mrs. Zimmerman, I’ll come back to you in a moment. Now I’m going to go to your son Robert, who is with us in the studio. Robert, thanks again for joining us on Al Punto. Your brother George Zimmerman’s legal team has filed a lawsuit for defamation against NBC. Why?
RZ: Well, George has explained in his own words how they made up a racial narrative, because the facts of this story just weren’t sensational enough for people who wanted to report more. So words like white, black, and gated community were used from the beginning to speculate about what had happened, which was very, very different from what really happened on that day.
JR: The debate is centered on whether your brother acted out of racism or self-defense. What do you know about that? What has your brother told you?
RZ: Well, as a brother, I know we need to ask why Trayvon Martin punched him. You know? Lots of people are focusing on what George did. He did the same thing he did 40 times in one year: he called the police. What George did is that same thing that was done 400 times over 13 months where he lived, in a neighborhood of less than 200 homes around there. Four hundred calls to the police: why? Because there were a lot of robberies, there was a woman with a baby who was just months old, in her bedroom while her house was being robbed, and people were afraid. So I think that what George…
JR: But is this the first time that George has used a handgun to defend himself this way?
RZ: Oh, yes. In the state of Florida, handguns are licensed, but you have to keep them concealed. Back where we were in Virginia, as my mother started to explain, the law is totally opposite. Even without a license, you can carry a handgun just like I have done when I’ve gone out to shoot at a public range as long as it’s in sight.
JR: Do you know if George had a handgun?
RZ: Yes, yes, I had always known that both George and his wife had a permit for that gun. There was an attack, or, an alleged incident in which they could have been attacked by a dog, but that has nothing to do with our case. But at that time a police officer suggested to him, “Look, if you’re so afraid of that dog and if these people don’t keep it under control, it’s better for you to be armed than to wind up in the hospital.”
JR: Okay. So, what’s the next step? What are you folks emphasizing in the defense the fact that you are a Hispanic family?
RZ: No, Jorge, because I think that would be going, well, going backward on the progress we’ve made about race. We are an American family, and what happened that night was a tragedy. That’s what it has always been for our family, but for us to say, “We’re Latinos, and so Latinos need to take our side rather than someone else’s because that person is of a different color,” that wouldn’t be right, either. Now, what has surprised the public is that we are not non-Hispanic whites. That photo of George where he has very light skin is because it was a photocopy, that photo doesn’t look like him. And if that photo had been published in color, if people had known something more about George than just the word non-Hispanic white like they put on all the posters when they were offering $10,000 for him dead or alive, for turning him in…. Well, if they had known something about what really happened that night, maybe we wouldn’t have gotten to this point, but looking ahead, we need to make it clear that not only are we not racists, but the United States, and the whole world are watching us: as my mother said, “They even fooled the President.” Racism in this country is a game that pays really well. Lots of people are looking to make a buck, and there’s a lot of money to be made by alleging racism. You don’t even have to prove it.
JR: George, thanks for being here with us. I appreciate it a lot.
JR: Mrs. Gladys, thanks for joining us. Before we go, I just wanted to ask why you decided to talk to us, and why we are concealing your face. Do you fear for your life?
GZ: Yes, I fear for my life. I have to protect it, and I have to protect my family. I have an 88-year-old mother to take care of. If I have to come out in defense of my son, the best way I can do it is by keeping my identity concealed. We’ve come on Univision because we trust that it’s a news organization that will get to the truth, and I would love for it to be a Hispanic news organization that goes all the way in search of the truth.
JR: Gladys Zimmerman, thanks for speaking with us.
GZ: You’re welcome.
JR: Robert Zimmerman, thanks for being here.
RZ: Thanks, Jorge.
JR. Thanks to both of you.
I think they do quite well telling us who they are as they try to convince us who they are not.
As Ms. Magazine used to say, “No Comment.”