Trayvon Martin killer launches website to raise money 'for living expenses and legal defence'


Sanford, Florida

Lonely, in hiding, and apparently out of a job, the man who shot Trayvon Martin has finally broken his silence, launching a personal website to share some of his thoughts and solicit donations from well-wishers.

George Zimmerman's short statement does not address finer details of the now-famous altercation which led to the black teenager's death, referring only to what he describes as a "life altering event" that took place a month and a half ago.

Printed under the headline "I am the real George Zimmerman," his comments are carried above a picture of the stars-and-stripes, and are accompanied by a selection of famous motivational quotations by the likes of Henrik Ibsen and Edmund Burke.

"On the night of February 26th, I was involved in a life-altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage," read his statement. "As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life."

Zimmerman then provides details of a Paypal account which he says will allow readers to offer financial donations. "I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally, and ensure that any funds are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment," he writes.

Under a section of the website headlined "my race," Zimmerman, who is half Latino but who was initially reported by detectives who investigated Martin's death to be white, quotes Thomas Paine: "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."

A section titled "the facts" quotes James W Loewen, a sociologist. "People have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight."

Perhaps by accident, the site also carries pictures of graffiti saying: "Long Live George Zimmerman." It was spray-painted onto the walls of a black cultural centre at Ohio State University earlier this week, in what was widely described as a hate crime.

Martin's death remains the subject of international controversy. The unarmed, 17-year-old schoolboy was killed as he walked to the home of his father's girlfriend, in a gated community on the outskirts Sanford, Florida, after a night-time visit to a convenience store.

Local Police did not arrest Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer who had been convinced that the teenager was "acting suspiciously," apparently accepting his claim to have fired in self defence after being attacked.

Yesterday, protestors barricaded the entrance to Sanford's police department, which has already seen its chief resign in the wake of the incident. In the early hours of this morning, six shots were fired at an empty police car in the neighbourhood where Martin died.

The local mayor, Jeff Triplett, described the city, part of the suburban sprawl north of Orlando, as a "kindling box," with both militant civil rights groups and neo-Nazi organisations reported to be on the streets.

Zimmerman's fate currently rests with Angela Corey, a special prosecutor brought in to decide whether he should face charges in relation to Martin's killing. She must decide whether any charges will stick, given Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows gun owners to use lethal force when they feel threatened.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin's parents, meanwhile criticised Zimmerman's website. "You know he says that he experienced a life-altering event. Well, Trayvon Martin experienced a life-ending event,'' he told reporters.

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