TheBlaze’s Jon Seidl contributed to this report.
On Friday afternoon, Robert Zimmerman Jr. — George Zimmerman’s brother — offered instant reaction to President Barack Obama’s surprise comments on the verdict. George Zimmerman was found not guilty on murder and manslaughter charges by a jury of his peers last week.
Robert Zimmerman Jr. took a positive tone, passing up chances to criticize the president for some of his comments. In his surprise address, Obama speculated on the role race played in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and said “Trayvon Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago.”
“We are where we are today,” Zimmerman reflected. “And no matter what your opinion of the verdict is, there have to be things that bring us together, there have to be teachable moments that we learn from what happened here.”
Watch his comments below:
Zimmerman said he was glad to hear Obama talk about “encouraging African-American youth,” but he added we should be encouraging youths of all races as well.
“I think mentoring children of all colors is one of the ways that we break the cycle, and I would just add to what the president had to say that sometimes the right encouragement and the right role models and kind of the right shoulder to lean on in life can prevent any kind of engagement with law enforcement and the criminal justice system whatsoever,” he added. “So I think he made some good points about training law enforcement…and he also asked for some soul searching.”
When asked about Obama’s rhetorical comments about the outcome possibly being different if Trayvon Martin wasn’t black, Zimmerman said he wanted to focus on the future not speculate on what could have happened in different circumstances.
“We can have a better country if we all do our part in helping out youth any way that we can,” he said.
Zimmerman also advised getting “bogged down in the politics” in the aftermath of his brother’s murder trial.
“It should be beyond politics to stand united in the sense that we can organize ourselves to better meet the needs of children,” he said, adding that the “missing link” for children sometimes is a positive role model in their lives.
Zimmerman said his family has not been in contact with President Obama or his administration.
“But I think, you know, moving anything along racial lines is just a disservice to our country,” Zimmerman noted. “It’s why there are people right now misunderstanding what happened then and my concern is that along racial lines we don’t misunderstand any other scenario in the future.”
Towards the end of the interview, Zimmerman was asked about his take on the Justice Department pursing civil rights charges against his brother following his acquittal. Again, he was respectful and avoided bashing the administration, though he said he was concerned that outside pressure has influenced those handling his brother’s case.
“I should be clear that I have defended by brother when he was a defendant, he is no longer a defendant, so my comments and remarks really reflect my opinion about any person who has been exonerated,” he said. “If the Justice Department is within their rights to investigate, then they are within their rights to investigate.”
He continued: “It’s my understanding that, in this particular case, the investigative arm of the Justice Department, the FBI, has investigated…I’m a little bit concerned sometimes that our leaders are responding to pressure. I think, you know, that clear leadership in terms of respecting the rule of law is something that’s called for now.”
Zimmerman also told the Daily Caller immediately following Obama’s comments that the “president is reinforcing much of the mythology surrounding the case.”
He also spoke about the work George Zimmerman did within the African-American community.
“George is a Hispanic man who was mentoring two African American children before the incident,” Zimmerman told TheDC. “It goes without saying that African Americans are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, and I think George was trying to break that cycle.”