Did George Zimmerman Use A Racial Slur?

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I've been slow on this, mostly because I haven't been sure what to say. The question at hand is whether Zimmerman muttered "fucking coons" during the 911 call minutes before he killed Trayvon Martin. Several people whom I respect--all of them black actually--don't hear it. When I listened, I heard it immediately and in this CNN account, I hear it clear as day. I don't know what that means. 


But we need to be clear about the importance of this. This is not merely a matter of "Is George Zimmerman racist?" The major barrier to a federal case is demonstrating racial animus. If Zimmerman actually did use a racial slur before he killed Martin, then you have the makings of a federal case. 

So this isn't merely the old fun "Is it racist?" parlor game, as Jeffrey Toobin says below, this is extremely significant. 

UPDATE: One of those people whom I respect, now hears it with the CNN audio.


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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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