(LAS VEGAS) — Amid a storm of outrage and criticism, George Zimmerman on Monday explained publicly for the first time why he auctioned off the pistol he used to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin during an altercation in 2012.
The former neighborhood-watch volunteer, who was acquitted of second-degree murder in July of 2013, said he auctioned off his 9-mm Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol for $250,000. He also promised to use some of the proceeds to push back against the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter, which has risen in popularity in the wake of the death of Martin and other unarmed black victims of gun and police violence.
A Black Lives Matter community Facebook page has over 130,000 “likes,” and uses as its cover page an illustration of an activist wearing a black hood, symbolic of the protests that erupted after 17-year-old Martin was killed by Zimmerman near his Florida home.
Speaking Monday to ABC Las Vegas affiliate KTNV-TV via Skype between puffs from a thick cigar, Zimmerman struck a pose of defiance, discussing the process of auctioning the gun, and accusing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton of pandering to the black community to get votes.
“I was tired of Hillary Clinton’s anti-gun rhetoric,” Zimmerman said of his rationale for auctioning off the pistol. “She has been stumping around for a false campaign for the Trayvon Martin Foundation. She lied, saying that I killed him when he was walking home in his daddy’s neighborhood. Which if anyone watched more than seven minutes of the trial they would know that is false.”
The unarmed Martin was visiting his father’s fiancée’s neighborhood where he was returning from a convenience store before the deadly encounter with Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense.
Zimmerman said he would use some of the proceeds to help cops who had been targeted by violence.
“I am going to donate to officers such as the deputy in Texas that was shot in the head at point-blank range for no other reason than he was in uniform,” Zimmerman said, referring to Alden Clopton, a police officer who was shot four times ambush-style and survived. “No one can replace his life. No one can replace the service he was doing to his community. My goal is to attempt to make his family as whole as possible again.”
Zimmerman has been savaged by critics from the moment he announced his desire to auction off the pistol. Shaun King, a prominent civil rights activist and surrogate of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News calling Zimmerman “injustice in the flesh”.
“He is the living, breathing, walking, talking personification of injustice. He is injustice in the flesh. It nauseates us. It infuriates us. It takes us somewhere, emotionally, where we don’t want to go, but we can’t help it,” King wrote.
This is not the first time Zimmerman has provoked outrage since being acquitted of murdering Martin. In 2015, he generated headlines for retweeting an image of Martin’s corpse.
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