Spike Lee apologizes to couple in Zimmerman address mix-up

Elaine and David McClain''s home in Sanford, Florida, was erroneously identified as that of George Zimmerman.

Story highlights

  • Director Spike Lee apologizes to couple and will pay costs of their leaving home
  • Lee retweeted an address identified as George Zimmerman's
  • It was the wrong address, and the family left their home to escape harassment
  • The couple sought a personal apology and retraction from Lee

The first hint something was amiss was the knock on the door from a television reporter.

Elaine McClain and her husband, David McClain, of Sanford, Florida, were not expecting a journalist to drop by looking for George Zimmerman, the man who says he fatally shot an unarmed teenager in self-defense.

The death of Trayvon Martin has sparked strong reactions across the country, and those sentiments made their way to the unassuming McClains.

The next day, a letter arrived with "Taste the rainbow" written on the envelope in felt-tip pen.

That is the slogan for Skittles candy. When he was shot, Martin was carrying Skittles candy and a can of iced tea he had purchased from a nearby convenience store.

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McClains on tweet forcing them from home
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McClain: Sanford should work together
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The letter was followed by a parade of reporters arriving at the McClains' home. Only then, Elaine McClain said, did she and her husband learn that director Spike Lee had retweeted a message to his 250,000 followers with the couple's address, identifying it as George Zimmerman's home.

The McClains have a son whose middle name is George and whose last name is Zimmerman, but he has no connection with the controversy. After the tweets, with hate mail arriving and strangers with microphones knocking on the door, the McClains left their house for a hotel.

Lee apologized on Twitter to the couple and asked people to leave them in peace, and on Thursday, Elaine McClain said, Lee called her and gave a sincere apology.

Lee also told her he would pay the couple's cost of having to leave their home, Elaine McClain said.

The family's attorney, Matt Morgan, said Lee reached an agreement with the couple.

"The McClains are relieved that this matter is now behind them," Morgan said. "We had a very sincere and heartfelt conversation with Mr. Lee today. His apology was genuine and our clients were grateful. We asked Mr. Lee to do the right thing and he did."

The McClains said they were not seeking financial gain from their troubles. David McClain said he simply wants to get his life "back to a rational state."

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who says he killed in self-defense last month, lives more than 4 miles from the McClains. He is reported to be in hiding.