Film director Spike Lee has apologized for a tweet he sent, supposedly giving out the address of George Zimmerman to hundreds of thousands of followers.
The address turned to belong to a Sanford, Fla. couple who are natives of northeast Ohio.
The couple is from Youngstown and still has relatives in the area.
“My youngest son, his last name is Zimmerman and his middle name is George,” explained Elaine McClain.
That seemed to be enough to change Youngstown native Elaine McClain and her husband David’s lives instantly.
On Friday, film director Spike Lee retweeted a message to his 250,000 Twitter followers, revealing George Zimmerman’s home address… or so he thought.
Zimmerman is the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer under nationwide scrutiny in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17.
“We had some reporter and cameraman at our door on Sunday, asking for George. My husband said we don’t have a George that lives here and don’t know anyone, and then the next day we got hate mail and then the next day we had many, many cameras coming,” McClain said.
“It was actually my great aunt, and I just thought what were the odds of that,” said her great nephew Seth Rankin.
The Rankin family from Chagrin Falls was stunned to learn that their 70-year-old Aunt Elaine was now caught in the middle of the Trayvon Martin controversy.
“I talked to my aunt last night, she seemed to be doing okay. They had to move out, they’re staying in a hotel right now because they were flooded with hate mail and their phones are off the hook, just people calling, threatening,” Rankin said.
On Thursday, Spike Lee sent out a tweet saying, “I deeply apologize to the McClain family for retweeting their address. It was a mistake, please leave the McClains in peace. Justice in court.”
He also called Elaine McClain personally.
“We definitely accept the apology, we just don’t want this to happen to anybody else, the social media has no accountability to anybody, they can just put anything on there and they don’t care, they don’t care how it affects other people’s lives,” she said.
“She said that what Spike Lee said was extremely sincere and really heartfelt, and she really wants to go home and is ready just to promote peace right now. She’s hoping that she can help with the difficult situation,” said McClain’s niece, Holly Rankin, who is Seth’s mother.
“When you influence that many people, you need to watch what you say, and whether or not it was the real address or not, it’s like, an eye for an eye isn’t the way our justice system works,” said Seth Rankin.
According to the family and the couple’s attorney, Spike Lee has reached an agreement to pay the cost of them having to leave their home.