The brother of George Zimmerman blamed the media Sunday for portraying the death of Trayvon Martin as a racially tinged killing and expressed fears for his brother’s safety following Saturday’s acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges.
Robert Zimmerman Jr. said even though his brother was found not guilty of murdering Martin, it will take time for him to adjust and contribute to society.
George Zimmerman is “free in the sense of criminal liability. He's a free man, but he's not free in the sense where he's going to have the opportunity to re-engage society in any meaningful way for a long time," his brother told NPR.
Robert., who has acted as his family’s spokesman since the February 2012 killing, said he has received death threats on his family through his Twitter account and email. He suggested that some of the threats were aimed at his brother, but those angry at George have no way to send the threats directly to the neighborhood watch captain.
"I get hate emails saying 'I wish someone would blow up your family with grenades' [and] 'I will find you on the streets and kill you' — that's just some of the threats constantly directed at me," Robert said. "There's no way, really, to direct those threats at George, I guess because George doesn't have right now a social media presence."
Robert Zimmerman Jr. told CNN’s Piers Morgan shortly after the not guilty verdict was read that his family was relieved, but declined to express joy.
“I don't think this is a time for high-fiving. I acknowledged, we all have acknowledged that Mr. Trayvon Martin lost his life. It was not an act of murder. It was not an act of manslaughter,” he said. “The jury has spoken. Our judicial system has spoken, but that does not diminish the tragedy. Death is tragic in any circumstance of someone -- a young person losing their life for whatever circumstances.”
The Feb. 26, 2012, killing of Martin, 17, attracted national headlines and ignited a discussion about race and racial profiling. Zimmerman, who is half Hispanic and half white, believed Martin, who was black, was acting suspiciously in his Sanford, Fla., neighborhood. A confrontation ensued, leading to Zimmerman shooting and killing him. Zimmerman argued at trial that he was acting in self-defense, while state prosecutors argued that he was criminally responsible for Martin’s death.
Robert Zimmerman Jr. denied the notion that the killing had any racial aspects, and blamed the media – NBC in particular – with fueling that narrative.
"NBC had a lot to do with pushing that narrative by editing George's non-emergency call to the police to suggest ... that George had called the police to report a person who was suspicious because he's black, because he's wearing a hoodie," he told NPR.