Why did the Trayvon Martin Shooting go National?
Have you ever wondered why one story gets national attention and others don't? Thanks to the researchers at Judicial Watch, we have a good idea how this happened in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.
Through their requests for documents from local, state and federal authorities, Judicial Watch researchers were able to obtain hundreds of documents and emails pertaining to the case. This information helped Judicial Watch prove that a little-known unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Community Relations Service (CRS), was deployed to Sanford following the Trayvon Martin shooting to help organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman.
Hidden among these documents were emails dated from just after the shooting that referenced Trayvon Martin's uncle, Ronald Fulton.
Ronald Fulton is on the executive committee of the Community Relations Board (CRB) of Miami-Dade County. The stated mission of the Community Relations Board of Miami-Dade County reads in part: "The primary mission of the Community Relations Board is to intervene and contain community tensions, as quickly as possible." The CRB is part of a larger section of the Miami-Dade government known as the Office of Community Advocacy whose mission statement reads: "The Office of Community Advocacy (OCAd) is charged with making Miami-Dade County "One Community" that embraces our diverse enriched and unique population."
A few days after Martin's death on February 26, 2012 emails detailing the incident and Mr. Fulton's relation to Trayvon Martin were initiated. Since the City of Sanford where the shooting occurred didn't have a community relations board or a community advocacy section in the government, it appears that the Miami-Dade CRB and OCAd boards took over.
A March 9, 2012 email from the OCAd reads:
ATTENTION CRB AND ADVOCACY BOARD LEADERS
FYI: You may recall that the nephew of CRB Executive Committee member Ronald Fulton was shot and killed under mysterious circumstances on February 26, 2012 while visiting his family in Sanford Florida. Trayvon Martin was 17 years of age. The 25 year old man who admitted shooting Trayvon has not been arrested. There is growing community interest and national and local media coverage of the case and CRB leaders and staff are monitoring local tensions. The CRB extends deep condolences to Mr.Martin's family and friends.
See below CBS morning news coverage of the controversial shooting of Trayvon Martin, a resident of Miami-Dade District 1. See also below an on-line petition that has been started by a reader of the Miami Herald article on the Martin killing that appeared today, March 9. The CRB Executive Committee met Wednesday, March 7 and this troubling situation was discussed. The Executive Committee recommended to Mr.Fulton that he contact the Office of County Commisioner Barbara Jordan, who represents the community where Trayvon's family resides, for constituent services. Mr.Fulton has done so. The CRB is working to determine the level of tension here in Miami-Dade and leaders will respond as appropriate. We have been in touch with Commissioner Jordan's office and are conferring on next steps. We will keep you informed on further developments.
Approximately one hour after this email was sent it was forwarded by OCAd to Mildred Duprey de Robles, the head of the Miami field office of the CRS and to Thomas Battles, the head of the regional CRS office. After contact was made with the CRS, Mr. Fulton's name only appears in four other emails, all of which relate essentially the same information.
In comparison to the numerous emails obtained, these few may seem insignificant. However, the fact that Mr. Fulton's name and relationship to Martin was no longer being used doesn't mean that it was forgotten by members of the OCAd and was no longer a factor in their efforts. In fact, it would be highly unusual for them to forget that Martin was the nephew of a CRB Executive Committee member. Dozens of additional emails and documents initiated by the OCAd continued to promote the Trayvon Martin case well after Mr. Fulton's name was no longer being mentioned.
To be sure, there were others both inside and outside of government who were trying to shine a light on this incident. However, Mr.Fulton's seat on the Executive Committee of the local Community Relations Board played no small part in the Trayvon Martin story going from local to regional and then to national levels.