The man at the center of a firestorm over his shooting of an unarmed Florida teenager has launched a website, warning supporters about groups that falsely claim to be raising funds for his defense and soliciting donations for himself.
“I am the real George Zimmerman,” declares the website, set up over the weekend.
“On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life. This website’s sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.”
Zimmerman’s “life altering event” was the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an act that the neighborhood watch volunteer told Sanford, Florida, police was an act of self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged with a crime in Martin’s death, a fact that has provoked demonstrations and calls that he be prosecuted for killing the teen.
The statement posted on therealgeorgezimmerman.com warns viewers that “some persons and/or entities have been collecting funds, thinly veiled as my ‘Defense Fund’ or ‘Legal Fund.’ I cannot attest to the validity of these other websites as I have not received any funds collected, intended to support my family and I through this trying, tragic time.”
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But the site includes a link through which viewers can donate money to pay for Zimmerman’s lawyers and living expenses “in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment.” Zimmerman pledges to “personally maintain accountability of all funds received.”
“I am grateful to my friends that have come to my aid, whether publicly or personally, never questioning my integrity or actions, understanding that I cannot discuss the details of the event on February 26th, and allowing law enforcement to proceed with their investigation unhindered,” the 28-year-old Zimmerman wrote on another of the site’s pages. “Once again, I thank you for your patience and I assure you, the facts will come to light.”
Until now, only friends and relatives have come forward to speak on Zimmerman’s behalf. His attorneys have said he wants to share his story but can’t, because of threats to his safety and the possibility of criminal charges.