If you thought Donald Trump and his followers were alone in unearthing some hidden racism in the United States, not only are you mistaken, but you also may have forgotten about George Zimmerman and those who support him.
Just when you thought he could not be more repulsive, Zimmerman has outdone himself yet again. This time it’s not him making money off of his subpar paintings or being arrested for his increasingly aggressive behavior. This week we learned that Zimmerman was reportedly auctioning off the gun he used the kill 17-year-old Trayvon Martin back in 2012, describing it as a “piece of American history.”
Whether he’ll find a place to sell it and get that money or not, Zimmerman’s plan is to donate the proceeds of the auction to fight against racial equality activists like Black Lives Matter who he believes mean to do police harm. Critiquing the police for excessive force is not violent, nor does it equate to their violence, but Zimmerman somehow has not received the memo. And unfortunately, he is not the only one.
While the murder of Trayvon Martin and subsequent acquittal of his murderer, George Zimmerman, roared through mainstream media just four years ago, many activists yelled loudly about how despicable he was. Though Zimmerman took the human life of a minor, that was still defended by many under the guise of “well he was just standing his ground,” or because Martin was a “thug” who got suspended from school once.
Since 2012, Zimmerman has been arrested at least four times, though his arrests and incidences with the police both preclude his murderous encounter with Trayvon Martin and extend beyond arrests.
Personally, I have found Zimmerman to be repulsive from the time I learned he murdered a minor child, but it has taken four years, more arrests and general disarray for some people to buy into the notion that Zimmerman is less than ideal. Right after Zimmerman murdered Martin, a Kickstarter raised more than $300,000 in support of Zimmerman. This particular tidbit of disgusting and particularly racist use of funds from supporters surprised me back in 2012, but in a 2016 that sees Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president of the United States, is it really still surprising that there are unsavory racist bigots in our midst?
I assume the disconnect in relation to acquittals is that people hold the idea that because someone was acquitted that they are therefore innocent, which is to say that being found “not guilty” means that wrongdoing could not be proven in a court of law. However, it seems we often conflate “not guilty” to “innocent,” which is inaccurate: One can be both acquitted in a court of law while also not being innocent (or even being guilty).
In a world where Trayvon Martin no longer lives because a man named George Zimmerman decided to take his life, the latter’s attempts to explode back in the limelight — rather than disappear into remorse and obscurity — illuminate how little regard he has for that life he took. Indeed, it seems that his seemingly trivial actions like painting or selling the gun he used in a murder prove that not only is he not sorry for what he did, but he revels in it.
If the logic of Zimmerman’s supporters is followed to its end, and Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie and having been suspended from school prior is excuse enough that he be executed, what do Zimmerman’s five-plus arrests, all for violent crimes like assault and murder, and obvious moral deficiencies say for where he should be? If you are willing to kill a child and then auction off the murder weapon, what kind of person does that make you? When we look at the George Zimmermans and Donald Trumps in our society and that they are readily followed, it is easy to spot the problems we have yet to solve.