Seven months after the killing of unarmed high school junior Trayvon Martin, the killer’s family is on a national media crusade to clear the family’s name.
What began as a series of routine media interviews denying that George Zimmerman is a racist blew up into a Twitter rant Monday night. Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., took to social media after midnight and vowed to make it his life’s work to have one of the Martin family attorneys disbarred. He said he would expose the lawyers and their publicist, “one by one, day by day.”
“I hope GOD grants you a long life so you live to repent for what you have done,” Robert Zimmerman Jr. wrote in a tweet directed to Natalie Jackson, one of the lawyers for the slain teen’s family.
In another, he wrote: “My Life’s work = you WILL be held accountable for your words/actions. You AINT seen NOTHIN’ yet... I will see U disbarred.”
The flap underscored the heated rhetoric still notable regarding an incident that polarized the nation, and the extent to which legal advisors in the case were blamed for it. The threats posted online also highlighted the difficulty the Zimmermans have had managing their message, and the defense team’s inability to control the client — or his family.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said he cringed when he saw a relative of his client acting out on the web, and said the new media tour was launched without George Zimmerman’s knowledge. His message to Robert Jr: “Be careful with my case.”
“I have been cautious with how we act in this case and now someone with the same last name who does not act with the same constraints is out there — and I have no control over him,” O’Mara said. “They felt it was time to let the world know that the Zimmerman family is a good family. That goal is a noble goal.
“But they do have to be sensitive to the environment in which we are telling this story. No matter what, George is still at risk here. And we still have a dead young man — that’s fresh on everyone‘s mind. That frustrates me.”
The family’s media campaign follows months of public relations debacles.
Last month, Zimmerman’s best friend published a book riddled with errors that offered a new accounting of how Trayvon died. It wound up on the prosecution’s evidence list.
Zimmerman’s neighbor, who did more than 100 TV interviews on Zimmerman’s behalf, was arrested on a DUI charge, and the video of his arrest was posted on the Internet. A co-worker was discredited on national television when it seemed he hardly even knew Zimmerman.
The family did very few interviews, but complained vehemently about their portrayal in the press. In July, Zimmerman’s parents, Robert and Gladys, launched a website to raise money for their life in hiding and to share details about their son, who they described as a longtime altar boy who donated blood, mentored black children and collected clothes for the homeless.
After Zimmerman’s best friend published his book that included a scene that depicted the so-called “most hated man in America” as wildly paranoid against blacks, Robert Jr. took control of the family image himself.
In an email sent to several reporters last week, Robert Jr., 31, said his family sent him to Los Angeles to do a series of local television interviews aimed at “reintroducing the Zimmerman family.” He stressed that he was the only authorized spokesman for the family.