He certainly hasn’t been free from the spotlight:
●Two stops for speeding.
●A cellphone photo of a smiling Zimmerman touring the Florida factory where the 9mm semiautomatic pistol used in the February 2012 shooting was made.
●And, last week, police dash-cam footage of Zimmerman kneeling in the street to be handcuffed after an alleged scuffle with his estranged wife and father-in-law.
Like gangster Al Capone going to Alcatraz for tax evasion and O.J. Simpson serving time for robbing sports memorabilia dealers, some interpret this series of unfortunate events as part of some cosmic comeuppance for a wannabe cop.
But is he a kind of George Ziggy-man, perpetually stalked by storm clouds, or more like one of those California wildfires, creating his own weather patterns?
A little bit of both, according to crisis management expert Mark McClennan.
“How does he keep resetting his 15 minutes of fame?” said the Boston-area consultant, who’s on the Public Relations Society of America’s board of directors. “I’d say it’s a two-way street.”
Granted, Zimmerman didn’t expect his visit to the Kel-Tec CNC Industries factory in Cocoa, Fla., to be a public event. Zimmerman has turned down all Associated Press interview requests since his trial, and his lawyers didn’t respond to messages about this article. But Shawn Vincent, a spokesman for the law firm that defended Zimmerman, told Yahoo News of the factory visit: “That was not part of our public relations plan.”
McClennan wasn’t surprised when gossip Web site TMZ published a photo of Zimmerman shaking hands with a Kel-Tec employee — and Zimmerman shouldn’t have been, either.
“Instead of being a 24-hour news cycle, it’s now a 24-second news cycle for anything to spring up,” said McClennan, a senior vice president at Schwartz MSL. “You need to be careful of what you’re doing. . . . And if there’s anything you do that is newsworthy or interesting, people are going to write about it, talk about it, share about it, tweet it, put it on YouTube — because it’s going to drive clicks, drive interest, and it’s going to spread virally.”
It’s not just Zimmerman’s public outings and repeated brushes with the legal system that have kept him in the spotlight. Martin’s parents were prominent participants in last month’s 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington, and several civil rights leaders have called for the repeal of “stand your ground” laws, which generally remove a person’s duty to retreat if possible in the face of danger.