By Albert Lin
More than two years after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman still does not understand why he is such a lightning rod for criticism.
Zimmerman resurfaced on Saturday at the New Orlando Gun Show gun show, shaking hands, autographing photos and interacting with supporters. Reports on the number of people who lined up for his autograph varied greatly: The New York Daily News said that fewer than 20 people showed up over a six-hour span, while Fox 35 Orlando reported that around 200 fans secured his signature.
In an on-camera interview with Fox 35, Zimmerman claimed to not understand why so many people feel so much anger toward him. “No, I don’t. But I’m willing to talk to everyone and try and answer their concerns and questions and help them realize there’s no need to be angry.”
Asked by reporter Valerie Boey if he has any remorse, Zimmerman curiously replied, “In which aspect” When Boey mentioned the date of the shooting, Zimmerman gave a simple “Sure” and then declined further comment, citing ongoing legal action. For the same reasons, he also declined to discuss his domestic-violence incidents involving his wife and his girlfriend.
Unlike fellow Floridian Casey Anthony, who has largely remained out of the public eye since being acquitted of murder, Zimmerman has continued to make news and maintain a public persona, including having an active Twitter feed. He says he moves from hotel to hotel and wears a hat and sunglasses when he goes out in public but insists he will never go underground. “I will never change my name. I’ve had so much taken away from me, I would never let someone take my name away from me,” he said. “It’s the same reason I won’t leave the United Statesthis is my country and I won’t leave. No one’s going to make me leave.”
Zimmerman also confirmed that he still carries a weapon. “I walk around armed, I walk around with a bulletproof vest,” he said. “It’s not so much for my safety as it is for those around me. I can be around my family and something might happen to them. There’s children around me, et cetera. Those threats I have to be able to defend myself like any American.”
He said he has been treated, pro bono, for post-traumatic stress disorder by “some of the best minds in America,” and that he would like to finish his associate’s degree. “My next step, if I’m lucky enough, I’d like to reenroll in school,” he said. “I was one math credit away from getting my A.A. at the time that the school asked me to stay away because of threats of violence against the school. In the short [term] I’d like to finish my education if I’m able to get back into school.”
The gun show originally was scheduled to take place at the Majestic Event Center but the venue canceled after receiving backlash from the public. Organizers were able to hold a smaller-scale version at The Arms Room gun shop, which has been supportive of Zimmerman in the past. “The Arms Room family has gone through a tremendous amount of work to secure the location,” Zimmerman said. “The concept of being able to pay them back for what they did for me and seeing my supporters face to face was something I just couldn’t pass up.”
“He seemed nervous and actually a little scared to be there. He also appeared emotional, like he was really thankful and touched that people would come out to see him,” an attendee who got an autographed photo told the Daily News. “It was pretty weird to meet him in personand, wow, he has gained a lot of weight!”
The photodate unknownhad the message “Thanks for your Support! Your Friend,” preprinted on it, and Zimmerman personalized and signed each one.
After the show, Zimmerman sent out the following tweet:
What a gorgeous day to meet my friends! Thank you all for coming down to show your support I am so fortunate for each and everyone of you!
George Zimmerman (@TherealGeorgeZ) March 9, 2014