Forty-four days after Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida, we are finally hearing from the man who shot him.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Martin on February 26th, and who was released by Sanford police after claiming self defense, has launched a website, on which he thanks his supporters and seeks donations for his legal defense and living expenses.
The site is the first opportunity for the public to hear from Zimmerman since the shooting.
While members of his family have spoken out in his defense, and letters purporting to be from the family have taken a harsh, increasingly racial tone, accusing “black people” of prejudging and threatening the 28-year-old, Zimmerman has not appeared or spoken publicly. Therefore his posts on the site, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, are the first time the public is hearing Zimmerman speak for himself.
WATCH TRAYVON’S PARENTS AND THEIR ATTORNEY ADDRESS ZIMMERMAN’S WEBSITE BELOW:
NBC News has confirmed through Zimmerman’s attorneys that the site is authentic.
On it, Zimmerman says he was involved in a “life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage.” He says that he has been forced to leave his job, school, family and his “entire life” as a result of the uproar over the incident, and that the website’s “sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.”
Zimmerman does not address Martin’s family in his statement, but does warn about “persons” who have been collecting funds ostensibly on behalf of a “defense fund” or legal fund for him, for which the funds have not gone to him, and states that he has created a Paypal account linked to the site, “as I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally and ensure that any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment. I will also personally maintain accountability of all funds received. I reassure you, every donation is appreciated.”
Zimmerman worked for a local mortgage security firm, and took a leave of absence, according to his co-worker, Joe Oliver, who for a time was also Zimmerman’s media advisor and a frequent television surrogate.
The site was registered on April 8 on GoDaddy.com, using private registration to obscure the name and address of the domain owner. It is decorated with an American flag background. The “contact” page contains a form, and a promise to reply to “supporters.”
In a page entitled “the facts,” Zimmerman doesn’t provide details about who happened on the night of the shooting, but instead quotes “Lies My Teacher Told Me” author and sociologist James W. Loewen: “people have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight.” Loewen’s work focuses on racial conflict in United States history.
On the “facts” page, Zimmerman posts a message to his “supporters”:
“I am grateful to my friends that have come to my aid, whether publicly or personally, never questioning my integrity or actions, understanding that I cannot discuss the details of the event on February 26th, and allowing law enforcement to proceed with their investigation unhindered. Once again, I thank you for your patience and I assure you, the facts will come to light.”
Zimmerman also offers no specifics on a page titled “my race,” in which he includes only another quote: “”The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion” by Thomas Paine. Reports have said Zimmerman’s father, Robert Sr., a retired Virginia magistrate, is white and his mother, Gladys, is originally from Peru. Police reports filed on the night of the shooting refer to Zimmerman as “white.”
The site, which offers no new details about the shooting, or about Zimmerman’s current life in hiding, is rife with quotes, including the Edmund Burke line, “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” which appears on the footer of each of the site’s five pages.
A page called “album” contains just two photos: an image of a hand written “Justice for Zimmerman” sign, and a picture of the side of the black cultural center at Ohio State University, which last week was vandalized by someone spray painting “long live Zimmerman” on the side of the building.
The text on the page reads:
“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed” – Henrik, Ibsen
This page is dedicated to persons whom have displayed their support of Justice for All.
Full text of the homepage below:
I am the real George Zimmerman,
On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life. This website’s sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.
It has come to my attention that some persons and/or entities have been collecting funds, thinly veiled as my “Defense Fund” or “Legal Fund.” I cannot attest to the validity of these other websites as I have not received any funds collected, intended to support my family and I through this trying, tragic time.
I have created a PayPal account solely linked on this website as I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally and ensure that any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment. I will also personally, maintain accountability of all funds received. I reassure you, every donation is appreciated.
In an interview with NBC News’ Ron Allen, Martin’s parents called the website a “distraction,” saying they haven’t seen it, but have heard about it. The parents said Zimmerman has every right to do what he wants, but that, while he complains on the site that he has lost his “entire life,” he can get it back. “Trayvon can’t.”
Traci Martin and Sybrina Fulton are in the Orlando area on a previously scheduled trip, planned when the original prosecutor in the case, Norman Wolfinger, scheduled a grand jury date for April 10. They plan to travel to Washington this week.
NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC will have more on the Trayvon Martin case all this week.
Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @thereidreport