Think You Know George Zimmerman? This New Timeline and Profile Could Change the Perception (and the Case)
When the Trayvon Martin case first started garnering national attention, there were many that thought they knew who George Zimmerman was: an overzealous racist with a vendetta against young black men who was on a mission to assert power with his gun. But then little details started emerging, such as pictures of Zimmerman’s bloody head that could bolster his self-defense claim; CNN even backtracked and said the tape it once suggested showed Zimmerman uttering a racist slur was actually him most likely saying it was “cold.”
And now, Reuters has put together a detailed profile of Zimmerman that seems to suggest he was a concerned citizen that was trying to help fix his community and those in it reeling from recent crime. He was a compassionate neighbor, it seems, not a lunatic with a gun.
“During the time Zimmerman was in hiding, his detractors defined him as a vigilante who had decided Martin was suspicious merely because he was black,” Reuters reports. “After Zimmerman was finally arrested on a charge of second-degree murder more than six weeks after the shooting, prosecutors portrayed him as a violent and angry man who disregarded authority by pursuing the 17-year-old.
“But a more nuanced portrait of Zimmerman has emerged from a Reuters investigation into Zimmerman’s past and a series of incidents in the community in the months preceding the Martin shooting.” [Emphasis added]
So what does it show? For starters, it was an animal control officer who told Zimmerman he should get a gun after a pit bull was menacing him and his wife. His friends, however, never even knew he had a firemarm until about two months ago. And, Reuters says, “He was raised in a racially integrated household and himself has black roots through an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather – the father of the maternal grandmother who helped raise him.”
Business Insider put together some chronological bullet points highlighting the article’s most important points:
- Zimmerman grew up in a mixed-race household
- He was an altar boy at his Caltholic church from age 7-17
- He is bilingual
- After he finished high school, he studied for and got an insurance license
- In 2004, Zimmerman and a black friend opened an Allstate insurance office (which soon failed)
- Zimmerman’s 2005 arrest for “resisting arrest, violence, and battery of an officer” occurred after he shoved an under-cover alcohol control agent at a bar when the agent was trying to arrest an underage friend of his
- Zimmerman married his wife, Shellie, in 2007. They rented a house in Twin Lakes. Twin Lakes is about 50% white, 20% Hispanic, and 20% black.
- In 2009, Zimmerman enrolled in Seminole State College
- In the fall of 2009, a pit bull broke free twice and once cornered Shellie in the Zimmermans’ yard. George Zimmerman asked a police officer whether he should buy pepper spray. The cop told him pepper spray wasn’t fast enough and recommended that he get a gun.
- By the summer of 2011, Twin Lakes “was experiencing a rash of burglaries and break-ins.” In several of the cases, witnesses said the robbers were young black men
- In July 2011, a black teenager stole a bicycle off the Zimmermans’ porch
- In August of 2011, a neighbor of the Zimmermans, Olivia Bertalan, was home during the day when two young black men entered her house. She hid in a room upstairs and called the police. When the police arrived, the two men, who had been trying to take a TV, fled. One of them ran through the Zimmermans’ yard.
- After the break-in, George Zimmerman stopped by the Bertalans and gave Olivia a card with his name and number on it. He told her to visit his wife Shellie if she felt unsafe.
- The police recommended that Bertalan get a dog. She moved away instead. Zimmerman got a second dog–a Rottweiler.
- In September, several concerned residents of the neighborhood, including Zimmerman, asked the neighborhood association to create a neighborhood watch. Zimmerman was asked to run it.
- In the next month, two more houses in the neighborhood were robbed.
- A community newsletter reminded residents to report any crimes to the police and then call “George Zimmerman, our captain.”
- On February 2, 2012, Zimmerman spotted a young black man looking into the windows of a neighbor’s empty house. He called the police and said “I don’t know what he’s doing. I don’t want to approach him, personally.” The police sent a car, but by the time they arrived, the man was gone.
- On February 6th, another house was burglarized. Witnesses said two of the robbers were black teenagers. One, who had prior burglary convictions, was soon caught with a laptop stolen from the house.
- Two weeks later, Zimmerman spotted Travyon Martin and called the police. The last time he had done this, the suspect got away. This time, he disregarded police instructions and followed. A few minutes later, Martin was dead.
Is it possible that Zimmerman is an angry racist? It is. But as Business Insider wonders, “doesn’t it make you feel a bit differently about Zimmerman?”
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