Photo: George Zimmerman, acquitted in the 2012 murder of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin
By Ben Robinson
On Wednesday George Zimmerman, known for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012, filed a $100 million lawsuit against Martin’s family, attorney, and Florida state authorities. He claims that there was witness fraud at his trial and that the civil defense attorney assigned to it, Ben Crump, defamed him in a book written after the trial.
Yesterday a press conference on the suit was scheduled along with a screening of a reactionary documentary named “The Trayvon Martin Hoax,” which attempts to paint Zimmerman as a victim of conspiracy. Both the conference and the screening were cancelled by Coral Gables Art Cinema once the public began to direct their anger toward the venue.
In 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of Martin, a unarmed Black teenager, after harassing and initiating a confrontation with Martin under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The law used the same subjective criteria of “fearing for one’s life” that many police officers have claimed in order to avoid convictions for the murder of innocent Black people.
This example of the bourgeois “justice system” helped to launch the Black Lives Matter movement, which began as a rebellious force against national oppression of Black people and police brutality, before being co-opted by non-governmental organizations and opportunists with electoral ambitions like DeRay McKesson.
Zimmerman’s attorney in the lawsuit, Larry Klayman, is the founder of the rightwing nonprofit Judicial Watch. The organization has a long history of making sensational false claims, including one that alleged the Department of Justice under Barack Obama helped organize protests against Zimmerman in 2013. Judicial Watch has also collaborated with the fascist Steve Bannon and his reactionary outlet Breitbart News; while their claims are generally disregarded as unfounded conspiracies by mainstream news, the stories are often picked up by far-right outlets that traffic in misinformation.
Klayman claims that Martin’s family and Crump swapped a witness for someone who was willing to give a false scripted testimony against Zimmerman. The suit additionally charges Crump for defamation because he published the book, Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, which discusses the systematic oppression and annihilation of Black people by the police and US legal system.
Crump spoke on behalf of himself and Trayvon’s family, saying that the suit was “unfounded and reckless” and was “another… shameless attempt to profit off of the lives and grief of others.”
While this assessment is correct, Zimmerman has already made $250,000 off of Martin’s murder by auctioning off the gun he used to kill him, it misses the larger political goals of the lawsuit. Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has courted reactionary and fascist elements in the US, becoming a poster boy for racist murders in the process. He has thrived off attention and controversy and is using Klayman, who has a poor track record of actually winning these lawsuits, to whip up these reactionary elements in the form of political support and funding.
Zimmerman is widely hated amongst working class and oppressed nations people in the US for being a racist, an abuser of women, and a generally heartless coward for his own actions, not from the court testimony or Crump’s book. The spurious claims of “false testimony” only serve as a smokescreen to promote his reactionary political agenda.