George Zimmerman, the ex-neighborhood watchman accused and then acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, said he doesn’t feel guilty “for surviving” the incident. But he blames President Obama for the way he handled it.
Zimmerman lashed out in a 13-minute video posted online Monday by his lawyer. He said with the Justice Department investigation behind him, he finally felt he could speak out “without fear of retaliation” by the president.
In February 2012, Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer. Since then, Zimmerman has maintained that he pulled the trigger in self-defense. Still, Martin’s death ignited worldwide discussions about racial profiling.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and, in July 2013, a jury acquitted him. Then last month, the Justice Department, which had been investigating the case as a potential hate crime, decided not to prosecute him.
In the video, Zimmerman compared his ideals to those of Anne Frank, saying, “I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”
He said he would only feel guilty for Martin’s death if he thought he could have saved both Martin’s life and his own that night.
“Only in a true life or death scenario can you have mental clearness to know that you cannot feel guilty for surviving,” he said. “Had I had a fraction of the thought that I could have done something differently, acted differently so that both of us who survived, then I would have heavier weight on my shoulders. That sense in the back of my mind but in all fairness you cannot as a human feel guilty for living, for surviving.”
When asked by his attorney, who was off-camera, who he blamed for “the highest level of unfairness” in his situation, Zimmerman replied: “By far, the president of the United States — Barack Hussein Obama.”
“He had the most authority and, in that sense, I would hold him in the highest regard believing that he would hold that position and do his absolute to not inflame racial tensions in America,” he said.
Specifically, Zimmerman was talking about a speech Obama gave at the White House in which he said that if he had a son, the boy would look like Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claimed the comment was racially charged.
“To me that was clearly a dereliction of duty pitting Americans against each other solely based on race,” he said. “He took what should have been a clear-cut self-defense matter and, still to this day, on the anniversary of incident, he held a ceremony at the White House inviting the Martin-Fulton family and stating that they should take the day to reflect upon the fact that all children’s lives matter.
“Unfortunately for the president, I’m also my parent’s child and my life matters as well.”
Zimmerman was also asked whether, after everything, he still has a clean conscience.