Robert Zimmerman: 'Respect Jury's Decision'

Host Michel Martin talks to Robert Zimmerman Jr. about the acquittal of his younger brother, George Zimmerman, in the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm going to turn now to Robert Zimmerman Jr. He is George Zimmerman's older brother and he is with us once again. He's been speaking on behalf of the family. Welcome back to the program, thank you so much for speaking with us once again.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN JR.: Thanks for having me back, Michel.

MARTIN: How are you, and how are your parents, and how is your brother?

ZIMMERMAN: Relieved, relieved, and relieved and very tired. This has been a long ordeal and everybody is kind of in decompression mode. You know, living with the new reality that George is criminally not guilty and that, you know, we don't have him exposed to spending the rest of his life in prison now. And...

MARTIN: ...You've been very visible on his behalf and on behalf of the family in the last couple of days, really over the course of the trial, but really over the last couple of days. Do you have a main message now that you want to be sure that you get out?

ZIMMERMAN: I think I did, and I think the message is kind of changing. I think what's unfortunate is that, you know, people - I understand what a lot of people who come to the table with, who are black, you know, black people, African-American people who have these preconceived notions of what happened, and a lot of them are thinking for themselves, they're not thinking for their skin color. But what happened was that, you know, the rallying cry was, as it were, we just want an arrest. We just want simple justice.

You know, and then there was an arrest after much clamor. And then the rallying cry was, well, we just want him to have his fair day in court and that's all this was ever about - his fair day in court and let the jury decide, you know. And then he had his day in court, and then, you know, the goalposts moved again - we just want everyone to respect the jury's decision. We just want, you know, we just want the jury to make a decision - and the jurors made a decision.

And now the goalposts are moving again, you know, and it just seems that - I don't understand what people want or how much more they want to trash my brother for something that is a very straightforward act of self-defense. I know there are unanswered questions. This was not caught on camera, because cameras don't lie. But we have to give people the presumption of innocence in this country and there is no reason to assume that George is not being truthful or forthcoming or ever was with any statement he ever made...

MARTIN: ...Can I ask you about something, about a statement that you made or rather that you tweeted, which is that you have been very insistent throughout in our conversation, previous conversations, that race is not a factor here.

But yet, in the course of this, you tweeted a picture of Trayvon Martin side-by-side with another teenager, named De'Marquise Elkins, who has been arrested in connection with shooting a baby. And the caption was - any questions? Well, why did you do that?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know, actually it said a picture speaks a thousand words, any questions. And that was last March, and I want to leave that in last March. We're in a totally different page now and that was not about race. You know, it's interesting that people...

MARTIN: ...Well, what was it about? But what was it about?

ZIMMERMAN: ...Wait, I'm getting there...

MARTIN: ...OK...

ZIMMERMAN: ...It's very telling to me that people who premise their questions, such as you did, with, you know, race - it's not about race but you did this - what it is about is that when there are representations made of Trayvon Martin in the media that happened, in order to perpetuate the mythology that George is some kind of mythological racist monster, they lighten his picture, they call him white, they call him a racist, and that's never rebutted.

But when pictures of Trayvon Martin are circulated and he's 12 years old, or younger, and represented to be that way, that's, you know, just taken as fact and that's absolutely not who George encountered that night. Now when someone is accused of...

MARTIN: ...But I guess you came to me insisting that you have not had the opportunity to get your message out, and it seems to me that you have been, and we certainly appreciate your being available to us, but you have been sought after by every media outlet in the country. So by what standard have you - can you argue you have not had the opportunity to get your message out as well?

ZIMMERMAN: No, no, no, I mean, back to that issue there in my frustration with the media. My frustration with the media was, you know, if there is a person of color who is accused of doing something egregious, then representing them the way they represent their own selves in social media is fair game, and those pictures are widely circulated, the age that they were days before an incident.

When a white racist murderer kills someone, which is actually a Hispanic nonracist person who acted in self-defense, they have to be portrayed as white as possible and as menacing as possible and to be polite, the person who is of color must be portrayed in the most angelic light or, you know, we're just not OK with portraying Trayvon Martin the way he portrayed himself in his own social media. And we've learned a lot more about Trayvon Martin, you know, since then. So it's not that I haven't gotten my message out, it's that it's changed in the sense that we have a verdict now...

MARTIN: ...OK, we only have a minute left so I'm going to ask you about that. Which is...

ZIMMERMAN: ...Oh, OK...

MARTIN: Thank you for joining us once again. What would you like to come out of this? As we mentioned, this is a life-changing event for you and also for your family. What would you want to have come out of this?

ZIMMERMAN: You know, Michel, I think people approach this with emotion. We were frustrated, I was frustrated with the media. People were frustrated that they thought that nothing was happening at the time, which we know now to be false. I think instead of just hearing the words not guilty and acknowledging simply the verdict, you know, that verdict is two words. I think we need to pay attention to the process by which we got to those two words.

It's a process. It's a judicial process. Things that were factual came out in court. The facts of that night came out in court. And a lot of people would do themselves a great service to actually pay more attention to that process and less attention to the outcome. And I think the outcome then would make a lot more sense, because it would require intellectual examination of facts, rather than repeating an emotional response to a preconceived notion of who George was or who Trayvon Martin was.

MARTIN: Robert Zimmerman Jr. is George Zimmerman's brother. He was kind enough to join us by phone once again from New York. Thank you so much for speaking with us. We appreciate it.

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you, Michel. Take care.

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