Members of George Zimmerman’s family suggested in an interview this weekend that the legal team representing Trayvon Martin’s family had exploited racial tensions in order to misrepresent Zimmerman to both the public at large and President Barack Obama.
“Racism is a very lucrative sport in this country,” Robert Zimmerman Jr. told Univision News anchor Jorge Ramos on Sunday. “A lot of people have a hand in [that business], and make lots of money accusing others of racism, without even proving it.”
George Zimmerman is currently in jail and accused of murder after shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black teenager in Florida in February. Zimmerman and his defense team have maintained he was acting in self-defense under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law following a violent attack by Martin.
The case became a lightning rod for concerns over racial tension, with supporters of Martin’s family saying Zimmerman, who was acting as a neighborhood watch captain on the night he killed Martin, racially profiled the teen while disregarding police officers not to pursue him. However, an FBI report released in July said race was not a factor in the shooting.
Last week, George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit accusing NBC Universal Media and several reporters of portraying him as racist. Robert Zimmerman told Ramos, on behalf of his brother, that part of the network’s tactics involved creating a race-based narrative for sensationalistic purposes.
“From the beginning, they used the words, ‘White,’ ‘Black’ and ‘gated community,’ to advance a narrative based on speculation of what might have happened, that was very different from what happened that day” Robert Zimmerman said.
Both Robert Zimmerman and his mother, Gladys Zimmerman, denied that George Zimmerman is a racist; Gladys Zimmerman told Ramos the family’s roots are Afro-Peruvian. She also said she was initially hurt by Obama’s March 23 statement on the case, where he said that if he had a son, he would look like Martin.
“Seeing how this case has been worked by the attorneys for Trayvon Martin’s family, I don’t blame the president,” she said. “They fooled him, too.”
Watch Gladys and Robert Zimmerman’s interview with Ramos, posted on YouTube Sunday by Univision News, below.