George Zimmerman, the man who instantly turned himself into public enemy number one, is an intriguing character for a multitude of reasons. When I read Zimmerman’s story, he reminds me of one of my more “interesting” friends who had a similar story in his life. This person was also a wannabe police officer who lived with his parents, dropped out of college and took things way too seriously. There are few men more frightening than wannabe cops who failed the psychological tests.
Another thing about my friend was that his behavior was enabled by his mother. Every time he got into trouble, his mother covered for him, raised money to bail him out and protected him from the consequences of his own decisions. As a result, he grew into a spoiled stalker and public menace who refused to take responsibility for his choices: He beat his girlfriends, threatened his enemies, abandoned his kids and harmed other people. He became, honestly, quite a worthless human being.
George Zimmerman may not have been enabled by his mother, but he certainly seems to have been protected by his father Robert. Throughout Zimmerman’s life, he has “mysteriously” evaded the consequences of his actions, likely due to the influence of his dad – cops aren’t always quick to arrest the child of a judge. He even faced charges relating to the assault a police officer, which would have likely resulted in a felony if you or I were in the same situation.
George’s father has continued to protect his son in a multitude of ways, starting with allowing him to live at home rent free. After George killed Trayvon, his father immediately wrote a letter to the Orlando Sentinel defending his son. Robert has appeared on national television, making up Clint Eastwood stories that present Trayvon as an enraged killer who simply had to be shot. Robert Zimmerman is the Helicopter Parent on steroids, and likely the reason that his son thought he was above the law.
When George Zimmerman goes down, it should be a family affair. The justice department should investigate Robert Zimmerman’s role in helping his son evade punishment and also investigate prior incidents in which Robert Zimmerman chose to obstruct justice. Any police officials who chose to assist Mr. Zimmerman in his efforts to help his son shirk responsibility for his actions should also be punished. This father-son partnership in irresponsibility has harmed the local community, put others in danger and should be put to an immediate end.
George Zimmerman is a modern day Frankenstein, created by his father. Many of us create George Zimmermans in our own families by refusing to hold our children accountable for their choices. So, perhaps we can learn a valuable lesson from the mistakes of Robert Zimmerman: Raising your child to be an anti-social menace to society can harm other people and ultimately bring you down.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.