In a newly released video, George Zimmerman — the former neighborhood watchman acquitted of murder in 2013 — blames President Obama for stirring racial tensions following the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.
Zimmerman, who pursued and approached the 17-year-old as he walked to his father’s house, can be heard on the March 8 recording saying he was victimized by Obama and wrongly accused of being a racist by the media.
The Orlando Sentinel writes:
“…he faulted the media for portraying him as a racist and the criminal justice system for bringing him to trial but saved his harshest criticism for Obama, whom he accused of trying to prosecute “an innocent American.”
“For him to make incendiary comments as he did and direct the Department of Justice to pursue a baseless prosecution, he by far over-stretched, over-reached,” Zimmerman said. The president, whom he referred to as “Barack Hussein Obama,” should have told the public, ” ‘Let’s not rush to judgment,’ ” Zimmerman said.
The recording, released by his Tampa divorce lawyer Howard Iken of Ayo and Iken PLC, marks Zimmerman’s first public comments since the DOJ announced in February that he did not violate Trayvon’s rights. Since his acquittal and even during his numerous run-ins with the law following the trial, Zimmerman has remained mum and “still tightly guards his privacy,” according to The OS.
But the interview between Zimmerman and Iken takes a darker turn when he discusses the shooting of Trayvon — at one point the 31-year-old tells his lawyer that he has a clean conscience and doesn’t feel guilty about surviving the encounter. He also tells Iken that the American judicial system failed him when they sent him to trial, adding that only because of his acquittal, the “jury process succeeded.”
“Only in a true life-and-death scenario can you have mental clearness to know that you cannot feel guilty for surviving,” Zimmerman said. “Do you have a clean conscience at this point?” the lawyer asked about the shooting. “Yes, sir.” “Are you the same person right now that you were five years ago?” Iken asked. “Absolutely not,” Zimmerman said. “I have to have my guard up. … I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”
Zimmerman still maintains that he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Trayvon. The case sparked a national debate about self-defense laws, mainly Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground legislation.
You can watch Iken and Zimmerman’s interview here.