Zimmerman’s previous calls to police show no racial bias

Michelle Meyer at the Faculty Lounge law blog presented an analysis of the nearly 50 calls George Zimmerman had made to police in the 15 months prior to his run in with Trayvon Martin. His pattern of reports show no racial bias. The report is long but below is the key information:

List of Zimmerman’s Calls to Police

With that said, below is the list of calls; my commentary, such as it is, follows in the next section.

This chronological list of calls to both 911 and the non-emergency number is my rendering of the police records of GZ’s calls (link is to original source material). I have translated police codes and lingo to normal English as best I can. Whenever race/ethnicity is mentioned in the call log, I have included it here (any omissions are unintentional; if you discover any, please let me know so that I can correct this post).

A note about the number of calls GZ made. I’ve listed 43 incidents over about 7.5 years. (In a few cases, GZ called the operator back to provide additional information or to cancel the report, and that generated perhaps something closer to 46 calls, but I have chosen to focus on incidents.) On several occasions, I have seen vastly different claims about both the total number of calls GZ made and the time span over which he made them (e.g., “Zimmerman…called 911 46 times in 15 months” and “Zimmerman called…over 150 times”). I have not seen evidence of any additional calls made by GZ to either 911 or the non-emergency number, and all of the calls introduced into evidence by the state at his trial came from the 43 incidents I catalog here. But if there are other calls that should be included in the calculus, I will be happy to learn about them and update this post.

  1. 8/12/04: Reports male driving pick-up without car seat
  2. 9/20/04: Neighbor’s garage door open
  3. 8/20/04: Reports white male walking in the road carrying a paper bag, presumably drinking
  4. 3/17/05: Pothole
  5. 4/27/05: Neighbor’s garage door open
  6. 9/21/05: Stray dog
  7. 9/23/05: Couldn’t reach his sister by phone
  8. 11/4/06: Reports pick-up driving around apartment complex for last five minutes “driving real slow looking at all the vehicles in the complex and blasting music”
  9. 6/24/07: Two Hispanic males and one white male loitering near pool; officer spoke to them and determined were locked out of their vehicle
  10. 10/14/07: Possible intentional damage to his car tire; thinks he knows who did it
  11. 11/25/07: Reports disturbance involving his ex-roommate, a white male
  12. 1/5/09: Fire alarm going off
  13. 3/12/09: Requests patrol outside his home for a week while he’s away
  14. 5/4/09: Reports blue Audi; unclear why
  15. 6/10/09: Fire alarm going off
  16. 6/16/09: People jumping over the fence and going into the pool area, playing basketball, trashing the bathroom; reports make and model of car
  17. 8/21/09: Disturbance involving landlord over rent and foreclosure
  18. 8/26/09: Male driving without headlights
  19. 9/7/09: Pothole
  20. 9/22/09: Speed bike doing wheelies, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic
  21. 10/23/09: Pitbull
  22. 11/21/09: Referring to unclear past event, GZ says subject is in front of his residence
  23. 11/3/09: White male driver in county vehicle cutting people off
  24. 1/1/10: White male having loud verbal dispute with female in back of pick-up
  25. 1/12/10: Neighbor’s garage door open, “very unlike his neighbor”
  26. 2/27/10: Reports residence in complex where multiple vehicles are constantly coming to the residence; unknown subjects run out to the vehicles and run back inside; the subjects are always outside with the garage open and hang out all night, an ongoing problem; unknown who lives at that address; GZ advises there are constantly different people
  27. 4/28/10: Vehicle obstructing road
  28. 6/12/10: At least 50 subjects GZ doesn’t think live at complex are in the clubhouse & pool areas having a party, causing road obstructions
  29. 6/26/10: Approximately 50 subjects are having a loud party and blocking the street
  30. 10/2/10: Female driver yelling at elderly passengers, unknown if altercation is physical, vehicle was rocking back and forth
  31. 11/8/10: Trash in roadway, appears to contain glass
  32. 11/26/10: Motion alarm tripped while GZ is out of town
  33. 3/18/11: Pitbull in his garage
  34. 4/22/11: Black male 7-9 years old walking alone unsupervised on busy street; GZ “concerned for well being”
  35. 5/27/11: GZ’s alarm tripped while he’s at work
  36. 8/3/11: Black male on foot at back entrance of neighborhood last seen wearing white tank top and black shorts; GZ believes he’s involved in recent burglaries in neighborhood; GZ says he matches the description that was given to police
  37. 8/6/11: Two black male teens near back gate of neighborhood, one wearing black tank top and black shorts, 2nd wearing black t-shirt and jeans; GZ says they’re the ones who have been burglarizing the area and predicts subjects will run into the subdivision next to his complex
  38. 9/23/11: Open garage door; GZ notes he’s part of neighborhood watch and is concerned about recent burglaries in area; had a neighborhood watch meeting previous night with Sgt. Herx who advised him to report anything suspicious
  39. 10/1/11: Two black males approx 20-30 years old appear to be loitering in their car at gate of community at 1 am; GZ doesn’t recognize subjects or vehicle and is concerned due to recent burglaries in the area
  40. 12/10/11: White male with shaved head at club house in black Mercedes was hired by GZ to serve food at an event but then GZ replaced him and subject seemed upset and wants to be paid; GZ has never met him in person; GZ’s wife will meet with police when they arrive
  41. 1/29/12: Five or six kids, ages 4-11 years, running and playing in the street and running out in front of cars
  42. 2/2/12: Black male wearing black leather jacket, black hat, and printed PJ pants keeps going to the residence of a white male; unclear what he’s doing; subject was gone when police arrived
  43. 2/26/12 [TRAYVON MARTIN]: Black male, late teens, dark gray hoodie, jeans or sweatpants, walking around area; GZ concerned about recent burglaries

Commentary and Further Context

So what do GZ’s calls say about his views about black men? Many reports concerned open garage doors, potholes, and other inanimate objects. Others involved dogs. Others involved people — sometimes individuals and sometimes large groups — of unknown or undescribed race/ethnicity.

Of the twelve incidents in which race was given, six, including the incident reporting TM, involved black males (#34, 36, 37, 39, 42, 43), 5 involved white males (#3, 11, 23, 24, 40), and one involved two Hispanic males and one white male (#9). We could just count eyeballs (or skin color) and draw conclusions about whether GZ is a racial profiler on that basis. But as in most things, context matters. Which way does the context cut in this case? Probably in both directions.

Of the six incidents involving black males, one, recall, is the one in which GZ reports that he is concerned about the well being of a black male child who is wandering a busy street without adult supervision. So we’re talking about five incidents involving black males GZ found suspicious, and one involving a black male he wanted to help.

On the other hand, of the six incidents involving white males and Hispanic males, we may want to distinguish those incidents where GZ knew or at least had prior contact with the “suspect” (#11, the incident involving his ex-roommate, and #40, the one involving the food server he fired but had never met) from those where he reported total strangers (the remaining four). This leaves us with five reports involving black males GZ found suspicious and four reports involving white and/or Hispanic males.


About Chuck Norton

I write about politics, education, economics, morality and philosophy.
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