Spike Lee apologizes, pays ­relocation costs for Twitter blunder

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(NNPA)—Black film director Spike Lee apologized March 28 and agreed to pay relocation costs for an elderly couple in Sanford, Fla., whose address was incorrectly linked to the unrelated George Zimmerman, Neighborhood Watch volunteer and admitted killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to U.S. News on MSNBC.

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FILMMAKER ISSUES APOLOGY FOR HARMFUL TWEET—Filmmaker Spike Lee poses for a portrait during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Victoria Will, File)

Elaine and David McClain, who happen to have a son named William George Zimmerman, are in hiding in fear of vigilante violence after a surge of Twitter traffic—from Black film director Spike Lee, among others—generated hate mail, media queries and even death threats, all aimed at them.

Lee told the 72-year-old man and his 70-year-old wife he regretted the online blunder. He also agreed to cover the costs of them having to temporarily leave their home four blocks from the scene of the deadly encounter between Martin and Zimmerman Feb. 26. The couple’s attorney announced the settlement March 29.

“I deeply apologize to the McClain family for retweeting their address,” Lee wrote, according to EUR Web.

“It Was A Mistake. Please Leave The McClains In Peace. Justice In Court.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Twitter account of director Spike Lee, who has nearly 250,000 Twitter followers, is one of many linked to the spread of the incorrect address that many believed to be the home address of Zimmerman, who remained uncharged for shooting and killing Martin.

“People, The Thinking Behind Me Retweeting These Insane Racist Rants Is Because This Sickness Must Be Exposed. USA Post Racial Society?????????” Lee said in the retweet of the address.

Also on March 28 comedian Rosanne Barr said she tweeted the correct address for Zimmerman’s parents, then deleted it tweeting after “not fully understanding that it was private not public,” then threatened to do it again. “If Zimmerman isn’t arrested., I’ll rt his address again-maybe go 2 his house myself,” she tweeted, according to The Smoking Gun.

The McClain couple told Orlando CBS affiliate WKMG that they have a son named William George Zimmerman, but he is not the same man who shot Martin on Feb. 26.

“All this is really scary and it’s a shame,” Elaine McClain told WKMG. “There’s no reason they put our address out there without checking to see who lived there.”

McClain said her son lived with her and her husband until 1995 and still resides in central Florida. The couple insisted that the man is not related to Martin’s killer.

But the mix-up has caused them to live in turmoil. In addition to being bombarded by reporters and curious neighbors, they said they also received a letter in the mail that was addressed to George Zimmerman. The Skittles slogan “Taste the Rainbow” was inscribed on the back of the document.

Martin was killed shortly after he purchased Skittles and an iced tea.

Since the mix-up, the couple has temporarily resided at a hotel to avoid the spotlight. Police have since promised to patrol the neighborhood.

Still, William Zimmerman told the Sentinel that he is concerned for his family.

“It’s scary because there are people who aren’t mentally right and will take this information and run with it,” he said.

Zimmerman traced the address tweets back to a man in California. After he told the man to stop releasing the address, he received the response, “Black power all day. No justice, no peace” and an obscenity.

(Reprinted from the Afro American)

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