When George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin on 26 February 2012 in Florida, most right-minded people immediately saw the injustice in an unarmed black teenager being gunned down in the street by a man punch drunk from the “authority” bestowed upon him in his capacity as neighbourhood watch coordinator.
Gun advocates and those with questionable racial views not surprisingly voiced their support for the killer who is of German and Peruvian descent. After all: is it not constituted that Americans have the right to bear arms, and should they not be able to aim and fire at anyone they deem to be a threat?
In the aftermath, Trayvon’s image ended up not only splattered with his own blood and gunpowder, but also the grotesque right-wing debates in the media which sought to turn the victim into the villain.
His clothes, tattoos, alleged cannabis use and digital footprint were brandished like a symbol of the American nightmare, causing a few white Americans to wonder what they would have done if they were in Zimmerman’s “unfortunate” position.
To counteract this rhetoric, the Black Lives Matter movement was born. Rather than dwindling with time, the online campaign group has gathered momentum after the high profile deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and more.
Poignantly, the Trayvon Martin Foundation was set up by the teenager’s parents to campaign against gun violence and to support families who have been affected in similar ways. It seems Trayvon’s death has left an undeniable legacy which we will never know if he could have achieved in life.
While Trayvon is resting in peace, Zimmerman has continued to be a thorn in the side of anyone appalled at the now infamous killing.
With his self-defence claim accepted by a jury of his peers, a civil rights case against him collapsing and various arrests for alleged violence against women amounting to nothing, Zimmerman is to date metaphorically bullet-proof – an irony that cannot be ignored.
Rather than try to live a life under the radar, he has seemingly courted attention. Taunting the public – and more importantly the Martin Family – by posting a picture of Trayvon’s dead body and tweeting America knows what happened to the last moron that hit him are just stepping stones leading to his biggest disrespect since slaying the 17-year-old.
This week it has been reported that Zimmerman intends to auction the gun he used in the fatal shooting four years ago.
Although both gun auction sites he had listed the weapon on have subsequently declined to be involved, it is thought that the starting bids were for $5,000 with Zimmerman writing a description for the item saying: “I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American firearm icon. The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin on 2/26/2012.”
Claiming it is his right as a “free American” to do what he likes with his possessions; Zimmerman has said the proceeds of the auction will be used to fight Black Lives Matter and Hilary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric.
Zimmerman’s motives for selling the firearm in such a public way can only be understood by the man himself. It would be easy to speculate on mental health issues – but by doing so he is absolved of all responsibility for his actions to date and almost make him an innocent in an incident that ended a life, destroyed a family and shocked the world.
The mind-set that deserves most scrutiny would be the person who would bid. Fetishism for human suffering, brutality and their associated paraphernalia is not a new phenomenon. The sale of slave shackles, branding irons or Nazi and World War 2 memorabilia are more common than most would care to admit.
But how do you justify the purchase of a weapon used to end a life just four years ago? Would it be given pride of place on the mantel piece, or donated to a museum? How could you bear to reward a person financially for such a vile act?
While it remains to be seen whether Zimmerman will find a buyer for the murder weapon, it’s clear that America and its long and horrid history of racism and firearms being so intrinsically linked will continue to find a place in the headlines.