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Trayvon Martin: Spike Lee in talks with couple forced to flee home

March 29, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Screenshot of Spike Lee's apology tweet to Elaine and David McClain.
Screenshot of Spike Lee's apology tweet to Elaine and David McClain. (Spike Lee / Twitter )

Spike Lee, the noted film director and civil rights activist, is in talks to resolve complaints from a Florida couple who say they were forced from their home when he retweeted their address to his Twitter followers as part of the ongoing furor surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Elaine and David McClain, in their 70s, left their Sanford, Fla., home after their address was tweeted by a man who thought he had found the home of George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old who shot Martin, 17.

Martin, a black 17-year-old, was unarmed at the time of the shooting. Zimmerman, 28, the son of a white father and a Latina, said he fired in self-defense in the Feb. 26 incident.

The McClains happen to have a son named William George Zimmerman who lived there in 1995. Their son is not related to the George Zimmerman who shot Martin.

George Zimmerman has not been arrested, prompting widespread outrage the shooting was racially motivated. Since the incident, he has been in hiding because of death threats and other tensions. The case is under investigation by state and federal authorities.

The McClains unwittingly found themselves caught up in the fury -- and have hired an attorney.

"At this point, we are officially in talks with Spike Lee’s camp. They have expressed the desire to settle this in a good faith manner,” the McClains’ attorney, Matt Morgan, said in a telephone interview Thursday morning.

Lee has apologized for his action. On Wednesday night, he tweeted: "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."

Morgan said his clients "have very reasonable demands and I believe Spike Lee will meet them."

But the incident goes beyond a case of mistaken identity, Morgan said. The McClains are hoping to use the dispute as a way of showing that different races can settle at least some of their problems even amid the rancor of the Trayvon Martin shooting, which has roiled racial tensions in Sanford and across the country.

"The McClains do not wish to turn this matter into a circus," Morgan said. "They wish to use this situation as an example of how people can take the high ground and settle matters without the need for court intervention.

"They hope to use the situation to help heal the divide between the white and black community. They want to show America that whites and blacks can work together to solve their mutual concerns without escalating tensions to a higher level," he said.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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