In this file photo, Sanford, Fla., police officer Timothy Smith displayed the gun used to kill Trayvon Martin. Joe Burbank The Associated Press
In this file photo, Sanford, Fla., police officer Timothy Smith displayed the gun used to kill Trayvon Martin. Joe Burbank The Associated Press

Jeneé Osterheldt

George Zimmerman’s gun is everything wrong with America

By Jeneé Osterheldt

josterheldt@kcstar.com

May 12, 2016 5:34 PM

George Zimmerman calls the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin a piece of American history.

Disgusting, I know. But that’s exactly what it is: a symbol of our bloody and brutal ways.

Zimmerman is trying to auction it off like a prize, bragging about the case number written on it in marker. On Thursday, the Kel-Tec PF-9 9 mm firearm he used to take Trayvon’s life four years ago in Sanford, Fla., was set to be sold on GunBroker.com. They got rid of it.

“We reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion and have done so with the Zimmerman listing,” a statement on the site read. “We want no part in the listing on our website or in any of the publicity it is receiving.”

But by late afternoon, the gun was posted for auction on the United Gun Group website.

Gun broker canceled the Zimmerman Auction, we are running it now. https://t.co/2TYEO5q2qb

— United Gun Group (@UnitedGunGroup) May 12, 2016

Zimmerman said the Smithsonian Institution wanted his gun, but officials immediately denied that outrageous claim. He wants at least $5,000 for it, and in his listing he says he plans to use the money to fight Black Lives Matter, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Florida State Attorney Angela Corey.

Shortly after Trayvon’s death back in 2012, President Barack Obama stood in the Rose Garden and said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Our president asked us to search our souls. But a year later, we’d have more boys killed for being black, and Zimmerman would be found not guilty.

So if America had a son, perhaps he’d look like George Zimmerman: a man famous for being a liar, a racist, a sexist and a killer. A man trying to profit off the pain of others.

Yeah, that gun is America’s gun, loaded with hate. We live in a country where a pistol-packing grown man was able to stalk a 17-year-old who was armed only with Skittles and iced tea. He was young, black and wearing a hoodie in a gated community. To Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman, that meant trouble. He called the cops. They told him not to follow the teen.

But as Trayvon walked home to his father’s fiancée’s house, he realized a car was shadowing his every move. So he ran. I would have done the same thing. Wouldn’t you? Zimmerman chased the kid. They fought. When Zimmerman was on the losing end of the scuffle he instigated, he pulled out that Kel-Tec PF-9 9 mm pistol and took Trayvon’s life.

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It’s a recurring storyline in America, to validate violence and intimidation by claiming fear of a black person.

Just this week, Larry Thomas, a South Carolina barber, picked up his gun when he told customer Arthur Hill he does not cut black hair. Thomas said he felt threatened by the black man’s presence. Luckily, Hill gave up on just getting a shave and left the shop, called the police and everyone lived to tell the story.

Not everyone is so lucky. Since Trayvon, we’ve lost so many lives because people felt threatened by blackness: Eric Garner was choked to death, Walter Scott was shot in the back, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot within two seconds of cops seeing him.

Trayvon’s death was not new. Before him, there were Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Amadou Diallo and so many more. When we say “Black Lives Matter,” we know all lives matter. But we are asking you to recognize the disparity in how our lives are valued.

When I say this, people always wail that the victims weren’t angels. But you shouldn’t have to be perfect to live to see your day in court or make it home from the store. They wail about black-on-black crime. Yes, it’s a problem. Yes, we care. But for the record, most murders are intraracial. Just as 93 percent of black victims are killed by blacks, 84 percent of white victims are killed by whites. Criminals come in all colors.

But why use black-on-black crime as a defense for cops and neighborhood watchmen who are supposed to protect and serve?

That fatal shot Zimmerman fired woke up America’s history of lynching black bodies and nurturing white fear. People say because Zimmerman is Latino, his actions don’t play into white supremacy. They say the same thing about the cops of color involved in the death of Freddie Gray. To be clear: Systemic racism affects the way we all see one another and ourselves.

Zimmerman ended his auction post with the Latin phrase, “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” It means: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Sounds like American history — on repeat.

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