George Zimmerman’s attempt to auction the pistol, which he allegedly used to kill 17-year-old African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin backfired. The online bid “appeared to have been hijacked by fake accounts posting astronomically high bids,” ABC News reported.
As reported by TIME, fake accounts raised the bids to higher than $65 million on Friday morning with the leading bidder listed as “Racist McShootFace,” which was later suspended. Other bidders for the auction pitched names as “Donald Trump” and “Tamir Rice.” Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old black American who was shot by the Cleveland police.
The news of Zimmerman gun auction caused an uproar. Reportedly, many of leading gun sellers refused to sell the gun that Zimmerman allegedly used to shoot dead teenager Trayvon Martin.
The site GunBroker.com, which originally hosted the auction, took the listing offline, saying it did not want to be a part of the publicity it is receiving. After the site removed the listing, the United Gun Group’s website picked it up and by Friday afternoon, the listing has reportedly received more than a thousand bids.
In 2012, Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, killed an unarmed Trayvon Martin allegedly to defend himself within the confines of gated community in Sanford, Florida. The acquittal of Zimmerman in 2013 under Florida’s controversial self-defense laws sparked widespread protests and triggered a national debate on race relations in the United States. The acquittal of Zimmerman, many considered as miscarriage of justice.
The 9-millimeter pistol, a Kel-Tec PF-9, was seized by the U.S. Justice Department after the shooting incident, and it was returned to Zimmerman recently. As reported by ABC News, the listing ended with a Latin phrase saying, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
Zimmerman’s gun auction bid and the Trayvon Martin shooting episode illustrates the emotive nature of the United States debate over gun control legislation, race inspired violence, and racial policing.
Zimmerman reportedly wants part of the proceeds of the gun auction to fund what he calls violence by the Black Lives Matter movement, strengthen the anti-gun rhetoric and destroy the career of state attorney Angela Corey, who represented Zimmerman’s prosecution.
Fake buyers like 'Racist McShootFace' hijack Trayvon Martin gun sale - Reuters https://t.co/XjtGlujcvt— Danielle Kilgo (@danikathleen) May 14, 2016
Black Lives Matter is an activist group which was formed following Martin’s death. Since the incident, the Black Lives members have been profiling a series of cases involving police abuse of Blacks Americans. Incidents specifically include a policeman’s fatal shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and many others which reportedly involved white police officers and black victims.
Zimmerman’s gun auction bid triggered criticisms from politicians, sports figures, Hollywood celebrities, and Black activists. Critics slammed the move as insensitive. FOX 35 quoted Frances Oliver, a volunteer behind the Trayvon Martin Memorial in Sanford, Florida, saying, “It saddens me to know that he is still trying to profit something from the death of Trayvon Martin, and I think the most thing he’s trying to profit is attention to himself.”
This is not the first instance George Zimmerman has tried to monetize Martin’s death. Just a month after his arrest, he set up a fundraising site which reportedly earned $200,000 in less than a month.
An Op-Ed piece in the Guardian lamented on the George Zimmerman’s gun auction saying it “is an ugly symbol of racism.”
The piece added some additional insight.
“His audacious auction is a reminder to black Americans that the guns of racism are always pointed at us, ready to seal our fate at any time.”
Earlier, Zimmerman had claimed that the Smithsonian museums had expressed interest in buying the pistol, but Smithsonian officials refuted his claim.
As reported by the BBC, Zimmerman refers to the weapon on the online site as an “American Icon.”
Seemingly, the controversy surrounding Zimmerman’s gun auction hijack is unlikely to fade away from public memory. The case continues to revive emotive debates in the United States over guns, the right to self-defense and black civil rights.
[Photo by Joe Burbank/ AP Images]