Did you know the Justice Department sponsored protests against George Zimmerman? They didn't, really—but this is the new conspiracy theory being passed around the internet gutter as Zimmerman's trial comes to a close.
At Slate, Dave Wiegel examines the theory, which made the ever-shorter jump from poorly formatted email forward to Fox News on Sean Hannity's show last night:
If last night you failed to watch the Fox News family of cable channels, you missed one hell of a scoop. Sean Hannity informed his audience of a story that was broken hours earlier by the legal watchdogs/gadflies (depending on your politics) at Judicial Watch. “A little-known unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Community Relations Service (CRS), was deployed to Sanford, FL, following the Trayvon Martin shooting,” reported Judicial Watch. Its mission: “to help organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman.”
The CRS is, maybe, "little-known," but it's hardly as sinister as Hannity (and Lou Dobbs) make it sound—it's a small, low-budget agency within the Department of Justice whose job is to intervene and mediate in the case of "actions, policies, and practices that are perceived to be based on race, ethnicity, or national origin." As Weigel points out, in this case the CRS entered the scene after students at dozens of Miami schools staged a walkout: "[T]he result was peaceful rallies, after which a police chief resigned and Zimmerman was charged."
But, you know. Racial hatred! "The CRS’s participation in these meetings appears to be intimidating," says the president of Judicial Watch; "I think stoking the racial stuff is the way Obama was raised," says Rush Limbaugh.
In the real world, the prosecutors in the Zimmerman case delivered their closing argument yesterday. "His body speaks to you, even in death," prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the six-woman jury, showing a photograph of Martin's body. "It proves to you this defendant is lying about what happened."
The defense will get its turn today, after which the jury will deliberate. The consensus of most quoted legal experts seems to be that the prosecution didn't adequately prove second-degree murder, but that Zimmerman could still be found guilty of manslaughter.