Zimmerman supporters torn in face of latest legal drama
George Zimmerman was arrested Monday, accused of pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend and pushing her out of her home during a domestic disturbance. He was charged with felony aggravated assault with a weapon, misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief.
The incident is but the latest in a string of gun-related run-ins with the law since Zimmerman was acquitted in July of second degree murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Some Zimmerman defenders have drawn back their support in light of recent events. Many others are doubling down.
Shortly after being acquitted, Zimmerman was pulled over in Forney, Texas for speeding. Officers found a gun in his glove compartment, for which he had a concealed weapon permit, and issued Zimmerman a verbal warning. Then, in early September, he was pulled over again for speeding near his home in Lake Mary, Florida and was issued a $256 ticket.
Zimmerman made news once again that month for a domestic dispute with his wife. Shellie Zimmerman claimed her husband got into a fight with her father and threatened her with a gun in their Florida home. She failed to press charges but later, in an interview with the Today Show‘s Matt Lauer, said she regretted that decision and had doubts about her husband’s innocence in the Martin case.
“I think anyone would doubt that innocence, because I don’t know the person that I’ve been married to,” she said. “I have doubts, but I also believe the evidence.”
Public support for Zimmerman has also waned with his recent run-ins. Even conservative news sites that have been destinations for Zimmerman supporters have seen a change in commentary from community members.
“I think this it’s s a perfect case study in why ‘team-joining’ on a local crime [story] often bites people in the butt. Anyone that’s done any degree of local crime reporting knows that facts are much muddier than they appear on first blush,” says Vince Coglianese, managing editor of Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller. “I try not to take the temperature of commenters on the site, but it seems like a lot of people have a more nuanced view now. It seems as though they had this impression there were all these reasons to withhold judgment in terms of the Trayvon Martin case, but these recent incidents suggest there may be a pattern of behavior.”
Still, there are legions of Zimmerman defenders online who are not dismayed by his recent arrest.
One of the most popular and active communities for Zimmerman supporters is the Justice for George Zimmerman Facebook page. With nearly 4,000 members, referred to as “Zimmers,” it’s been a hub for Zimmerman updates during and after his trial. Despite Zimmerman’s mounting legal troubles, many Zimmers have expressed concern for his well-being and suspicion of the legal system and those around him.
“The report talks about a ‘shotgun’ but where asked if it was recovered it says ‘NO’ HMMMM!!! This smells like another phony bologna case of crazy b*tches in his life!! His family needs to step in and do something!! ASAP,” wrote Rose Ortega, a Justice for George Zimmerman member.
Another, Wendy Meade, commented, “I ain’t buying this crap! He needs to not be with any woman. They all know all they have to do (just like Shellie did) is call police and he will be in hot water. Total BS!”
“I don’t give two chits [sic] what he is charged with now, the not guilty verdict in the murder trial was a just verdict, was the correct verdict,” wrote the administrators in response to Zimmerman’s arrest Monday. “If people want to see him convicted on domestic charges because it makes them feel better about the not guilty verdict in the murder case, so be it. That’s on them.”
Throughout the media, however, many others insist Zimmerman’s mounting altercations do, in fact, suggest justice wasn’t served in his trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
“George Zimmerman’s post-trial behavior has confirmed the haunting things that many of us have thought all along,” says Rahiel Tesfamariam, founder and editor-in-chief of Urban Cusp – a progressive news site. “Zimmerman is a walking menace to society, which was how Trayvon Martin was unfairly depicted in the aftermath of his killing. But unlike Trayvon, Zimmerman has had the opportunity to show the world his true colors. And what he has shown us is perpetual violence, irrationality and reckless decision-making. His behavior is alarming and suggests that everyone he closely encounters is at threat of potential harm. Every time a headline flashes about his latest act of rage, we are reminded that justice was definitely not served. Now, we can only hope that another innocent bystander will not pay the fatal price for Zimmerman’s freedom.”
Follow Donovan X. Ramsey at @iDXR.