Empowered by an advertising campaign that portends “we support George Zimmerman and believe he shot a thug,” a Florida businessman is gleefully boasting of having instantly sold out of gun range targets he created that depict a faceless, hood-clad figure designed to resemble tragically slain teenager Trayvon Martin.
“The response is overwhelming,” the unidentified salesman told an Orlando television station, adding that he primarily ran the ad on the ultra-popular, conservatively themed GunBroker.com firearms auctioning webpage.
“I sold out within two days,” he added of the tasteless targets, which also feature crosshairs stamped across the front chest of the black colored hoodies with images of Skittles and an iced tea printed near a side pocket. The paper targets sell in packs of 10 for $8, plus $7.50 shipping and handling.
The 17-year-old Martin was shot and killed on the night of Feb. 26 as he sought to return to his gated community residence carrying only candy and iced tea by volunteer neighborhood watchman Zimmerman, who has since admitted to investigators he first confronted the unsuspecting teen because he thought he looked suspicious.
Late Monday night, reports surfaced that the FBI may now be seeking to charge the 36-year-old Zimmerman with a hate crime after he blatantly ignored police orders to cease following Martin and seemed to profile based on nothing more than the fact he was a black teenager.
Yet from Day one, Zimmerman, 36, has insisted he only acted in self-defense and after he was inexplicably attacked by the unarmed Martin, whom even he admits first sought to retreat and run away.
Since the night of the shooting, the tragedy has both gripped and divided the nation with many engaging in peaceful protests all across the country in support of the teen they deem as a defenseless victim.
In addition to the Sanford Police Department’s handling of the case, many have also called into the question the overall nature of the law, more specifically the state of Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground Law.
Though now charged with second-degree murder, Zimmerman remained free and unabated for nearly six weeks following the shooting and only faced more intense scrutiny after public outrage grew to the point where the state was forced to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.
This past weekend—on Mother’s Day Sunday— Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mom, appeared in a gun control video where she adamantly advocated for the revocation of the self-defense law that allowed the man who shot and killed her son to continue roaming freely.
“Just like me, 30,000 mothers lost their children this year to senseless gun violence,” she said in a video recording. “Nobody can bring our children back, but it would bring us comfort if we can help spare other mothers the pain we will feel on Mother’s Day and every day for the rest of our lives. I’m asking you to join Florida by calling upon the governor of your state to re-examine similar stand your ground laws throughout the nation to keep our families safe.”
Also, in the wake of latest transgression against her son, attorneys for the Martin family likewise felt compelled to take to the airwaves anew.
“It’s disgusting,” Natalie Jackson, one of the family’s lead attorneys, said of the targets. “It’s a sad, certain segment of our society that would think you could make a profit off the killing of a teenage boy.”
According to Orlando station WKMG, though he proudly supports Zimmerman, the seller also readily admits that his primary motivation for the creation is “to make money off the controversy.”
Nearly three months to the day when the young Martin tragically lost his life, the case continues to mesmerize as much as it polarizes. On Monday, word leaked that a Miami-Dade fire rescue captain is set to be demoted two rungs this week after he used his Facebook page to not only attack Martin’s parents but African American guardians by and large.
“Failed, s***bag, ignorant parents are to blame in cases like this,” posted Brian Beckman, who will also now be required to undergo psychological evaluation and diversity training.
“I and my coworkers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, s***bag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents,” he continued. “They’re just misunderstood, little church going angels and the ghetto hoodie look doesn’t have anything to do with why people wonder if they’re about to get jacked by a thug,” he sarcastically added.
Sybrina Fulton is a much decorated, well-respected, 23-year employee with the Miami-Dade County Housing Authority that coworkers think so highly of they have collectively donated more than eight months of their own vacation time to her in a heartfelt effort to aid her with what she now faces. Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy, is a longtime truck driver.
Glenn Minnis is a NYC-based sports and culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.