US gun group raises $12,000 for George Zimmerman
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A U.S. firearms group has raised more than $12,000 to be spent on guns or a security system for George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
The Buckeye Firearms Foundation believes Zimmerman’s gun rights are being violated by the U.S. Department of Justice. The department has taken all the evidence from the trial, including the gun that killed Martin, as part of a civil rights investigation.
The acquittal sparked nationwide protests and calls for federal officials to charge Zimmerman with violating Martin’s civil rights.
Zimmerman was acquitted earlier this month of second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting of Martin in a gated community in Florida. Zimmerman, 29, told police he shot Martin, 17, after the teenager physically attacked him; Martin’s family and supporters say Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, racially profiled Martin as a potential criminal and wrongly followed him.
Zimmerman’s brother and one of his attorneys have said he receives threats and is concerned about his safety.
The foundation’s donation for Zimmerman is meant to be spent on guns, ammunition, protective gear or a security system, said Ken Hanson, the group’s legal chairman.
“The Department of Justice refused to return him his gun, and he’s in need of protection,” Hanson said. “The money is intended to be used for anything he needs to defend himself or his family. He has complete discretion on how to use the money.”
The money could end up being used to pay for Zimmerman’s defense costs and fees.
Zimmerman’s spokesman, Shawn Vincent, said Zimmerman has been offered free guns, but such donations haven’t been accepted.