George Zimmerman, who claims to have shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in February in self-defense, launched his own website on Sunday to raise money to cover his legal expenses.
Many suspected the website to be fake. Adding the suspicion, Think Progress noted that the website features a picture of Ohio State University’s black cultural center with “Long Live Zimmerman” graffiti on it. But Zimmerman’s attorneys confirmed the website’s authenticity to NBC News on Monday.
“On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage,” he says on the website. “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.”
The website requests donations via PayPal for living expenses and legal defense.
“I will also personally, maintain accountability of all funds received,” Zimmerman says. “I reassure you, every donation is appreciated.”
Zimmerman has completely avoided the media, but his friends and family have maintained that he acted out of self-defense.
Zimmerman told police that he had followed Martin on foot, but eventually lost sight of him and turned around to walk back to his SUV. That is when, according to Zimmerman’s account, Martin approached him from behind and confronted him. He said that Martin punched him in the nose, knocking him down, and then began banging his head into the ground. That is when Zimmerman allegedly shot Martin.
When police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman claimed that he shot and killed the unarmed African American teenager out of self-defense, which allowed him to benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Zimmerman was not arrested that night, a fact that later sparked national outrage and a flood of criticism.