In an interview released Monday by an Orlando law firm, George Zimmerman is unchallenged and given free range to discuss his deadly shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, which within a month snowballed into a national conversation of self-defense and race.
The interview by Ayo & Iken covers a range of issues Zimmerman said he now feels comfortable discussing, including blaming President Obama for racial tension after the shooting and his acquittal of second-degree murder more than a year later.
“He had the most authority and in that sense I would hold him in the highest regard believing that he would hold that position and do his absolute hardest to not inflame racial tensions in America,” Zimmerman said about the president.
Zimmerman continued: “President Obama held his Rose Garden speech stating if ‘I had a son he would look like Trayvon.’ To me that was clearly a dereliction of duty pitting Americans against each other solely based on race. He took what should have been a clear-cut self-defense matter and still to this day on the anniversary of incident he held a ceremony at the White House inviting the Martin-Fulton family and stating that they should take the day to reflect upon the fact that all children’s lives matter. Unfortunately for the president I’m also my parent’s child and my life matters as well. And for him to make incendiary comments as he did and direct the Department of Justice to pursue a baseless prosecution he by far overstretched, overreached, even broke the law in certain aspects to where you have an innocent American being prosecuted by the federal government which should never happen.
When the shooting made national headlines in 2012, putting in focus Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, Obama, along with presidential candidates as it was an election year, commented on the incident.
“If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we will get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” the president said in 2012.
The president later expounded on his comments after Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder charges, where he discussed past and present issues involving race in the U.S.
“When Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son,” Obama said after Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013. “Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”
After the acquittal, Zimmerman was still investigated by the Justice Department to determine whether or not he violated Martin’s civil rights, but the DOJ opted not to file charges.
“Instead of rushing to judgment, making racially charged comments and pitting American against American,” Zimmerman said in response to how Obama could have better handled the case. “I believe that he should of taken the higher road given his position and said, been an example, been a leader as the president should be and say lets not rush to judgment. As I’m sure he would want that same luxury afforded to him if he was accused of something, and asked for a calm, ask for peace.”