The story was too shocking — even for the person at the center of it. After all, this was the same man who was going to take part in a “celebrity” boxing match. George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin, sold a painting of the hoodie-wearing unarmed 17-year-old for $30,000 in an online auction. The photo of a smiling Zimmerman holding the artwork with “Justice for all” lightly painted in the background is as galling as it is tasteless.
And it’s a fake.
That Zimmerman is painting isn’t news. His $100,000 eBay sale and the dust-up with the Associated Press over his use of their photo of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey have made headlines. But upon seeing what was billed Zimmerman’s latest sale on a friend’s Facebook page, I immediately contacted Robert Zimmerman Jr., George’s brother. His response was swift.
“If that were true I would denounce it as repulsive myself,” Robert wrote me. “There is no way George would even contemplate disparaging the likeness of Trayvon Martin. Professional digital pot-stirrers are ‘at it again’ and amusing themselves by disrespecting a tragedy.” He added, “The circulation of these fraudulent images puts George in danger. People who believe the stories are rightfully incensed. It appears that is the objective of the parties behind the fabrication of the false news stories and forged art.”
Even the smallest amount of effort would have uncovered all of this as a fake. The site featuring the Zimmerman story is called “TheNewsNerd.” Find it for yourself. That I’m even mentioning it at all is more than it deserves. Anyway, when you scroll down to the bottom of the site, you’ll see the following message.
The stories are “for entertainment purposes only.” They “are purely satirical.” And they are not funny. Not in the slightest. This particular “story” roiled emotions that ranged from “oh NO he didn’t!” to pure rage. I’m all for good satire, but this was dumb and dangerous.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj