George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch coordinator who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, is having a difficult time auctioning off the gun he used that night. After Zimmerman started the bid at $5,000, Internet trolls like “Racist McShootface” upped the bid to some $60 million. Other trolls named themselves “Tamir Rice” and “Donald Trump” and likewise raised the price.
Zimmerman’s auction announcement sparked a firestorm of controversy. Martin was a young black male temporarily living in the Sanford, Florida, neighborhood Zimmerman helped watch. Zimmerman, suspicious of Martin, followed him, and during a confrontation shot and killed the teenager. Zimmerman claimed Martin attacked him and that he only used his gun in self-defense. Zimmerman was acquitted of murder in 2013.
Critics were quick to declare the auction insensitive and an ugly way of profiting off a tragedy.
Shawn Leigh Alexander called it
…another link in the long chain of America’s historical obsession with selling and owning memorabilia connected with the murder of African Americans.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries spectators used to hoard pieces of rope, body parts, embers and charred remains of lynching victims. During the twentieth century pictures of the horrific murders were sold on the streets and some individuals would send the images as postcards to friends and loved ones proudly proclaiming participation, spectatorship or just some fiendish connection with the event… The selling of a gun used to kill an unarmed African American as a trophy, or “an opportunity to own a piece of American history” is unacceptable. As a nation we should demand more.
Zimmerman, on the online auction site, wrote:
I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American Firearm Icon.
The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin on 2/26/2012… Many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm including The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. This is a piece of American History. It has been featured in several publications and in current University text books. Offers to purchase the Firearm have been received; however, the offers were to use the gun in a fashion I did not feel comfortable with. The firearm is fully functional as the attempts by the Department of Justice on behalf of B. Hussein Obama to render the firearm inoperable were thwarted by my phenomenal Defense Attorney…
…I am proud to announce that a portion of the proceeds will be used to: fight BLM violence against Law Enforcement officers, ensure the demise of Angela Correy’s persecution career and Hillary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric. Now is your opportunity to own a piece of American History.
The Smithsonian promptly said, “The Smithsonian has never expressed an interest in collecting this firearm and has no intention of collecting or displaying this firearm.”
The first online auction site Zimmerman used deleted the sale post, saying, “We want no part in the listing on our web site.”
The current auction site is deleting Racist McShootface and other troll names, but that apparently doesn’t undo the bids. The current bid is still over $65 million.