Trayvon Martin case: Spike Lee settles with elderly couple after Twitter blunder
Spike Lee's participation in a Twitter dialogue about the racially-charged case of the February killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin spurred an elderly couple to flee their home after receiving hate mail, but the parties recently reached a settlement.
The famed director, a longtime advocate of civil rights who is followed by some 257,000 people on Twitter, is one of many celebrities who have spoken out against the death and last week reTweeted a message he thought contained the address of the shooter, George W. Zimmerman. It was actually the home of David McClain, 72, and Elaine McClain, 70.
"Spike has agreed to compensate the McClains for their loss and for the disruption into their lives," the pair's attorney told the Associated Press, adding that Lee called the couple to apologize.
The original posting was made by a Los Angeles man. Elaine McClain said that over the weekend, a reporter and cameraman came to their house. She and her husband live in Sanford, Florida, where George W. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer of mixed race, shot dead Martin, 17, on February 26.
"They said they wanted to talk to George," Elaine McClain told the Associated Press. "We have no idea what they were talking about. We said there's no George that lives there. We don't know anybody by that name."
"Then, the next day, we had got a letter, hate mail," she added. "The next day, the media converged and that's really the first that we had known that this was on Twitter and how many people it went out to. We had to go out of town to a motel and didn't tell anybody - a couple of our kids, of course they had our phone number and that's all. We just wanted to get away and prayed for our lives."
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Lee Tweeted on Wednesday: "I Deeply Apologize To The McClain Family For Retweeting Their Address.It Was A Mistake.Please Leave The McClain's In Peace.Justice In Court."
"It was just a slip and I just know that he really, really has been concerned & I feel he really answered us right away and we really were not looking for any compensation - just to be able to go back home," Elaine McClain said.
The woman has a son from a previous marriage named William George Zimmerman, who used to be registered at her current husband's residence. Addresses of U.S. residents are often contained in public records, which base information on property sales, voter registrations, utility bills and other factors and can be inaccurate and outdated.
George W. Zimmerman said he was acting in self defense when he shot Martin. He was not arrested and may not have to face charges due to Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law." It allows people to use deadly force in self-defense if there is evidence they did so without malice.
The case has spurred street protests and a national debate about the issue of racial profiling and the way police have handled the case. Many celebrities have also spoken out. On March 27, Chris Brown Tweeted a photo of himself wearing a hoodie, emulating what has become a common method of protest. Martin was wearing one when he was killed.