NEW: Spike Lee apologizes for retweeting address of family 4 miles from Zimmerman
Couple at address say they're interested in community healing
Lee had been under fire for sending retweet over weekend
Director Spike Lee issued an apology Wednesday night to a Florida couple who had to leave their home after he retweeted a message that erroneously listed their address as belonging to George Zimmerman.
“I Deeply Apologize To The McClain Family For Retweeting Their Address,” Lee tweeted. “It Was A Mistake. Please Leave The McClain’s In Peace. Justice In Court”
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who claimed he killed teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense last month, lives more than 4 miles from David and Elaine McClain. He is reported to be in hiding.
The McClains moved into a hotel room after the retweets.
“We got out of the house. It is just too scary,” Elaine McClain told HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell on Wednesday before the Lee apology. “We’ve got to quit the hatred and the vengeance and start looking on the inside of people and quit looking on the outside of people. It is just sad the reactions that have been going on.”
She told CNN Orlando affiliate WKMG that her youngest son has the last name of Zimmerman and the middle name George.
The couple told the station they received a letter addressed to George Zimmerman on Monday. On the back was a reference to Skittles.
Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, 17, on February 26 as the teen was walking back to his father’s fiancee’s house in Sanford. Martin was wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles candy and a can of iced tea he had purchased from a nearby convenience store.
Elaine McClain said the couple called police after receiving the letter.
Lee, who has 250,000 Twitter followers, retweeted the address over the weekend, and it went viral. The man who initially sent the message, identified on his Twitter account as Marcus D. Higgins of Los Angeles, also apologized.
David McClain said they have accepted that, but want a retraction of the tweet with an apology attached.
Elaine McClain told HLN that an apology from Lee “could be a healing for this community.”
Attorney and TV personality Lisa Bloom told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday that the couple probably had legal recourse.
“This, in my opinion, is an invasion of their privacy and is defamatory to imply they had something to do with this incident, which they didn’t.”
A rapid remedy would include an apology from Lee and an offer to pay their security costs for a few days. “Make it right before this blows up to something bigger,” Bloom said.
The McClains have hired Orlando attorney John Morgan, who said they might have a civil claim against Lee. “Fortunately, this couple is not about that right now.”
“What they want to do is get a retraction, get an apology so everybody knows that that’s not the house,” Morgan told Velez-Mitchell.