crimesider

Trayvon Martin Case: Robert Zimmerman Jr. says tweeted image meant to show "Trayvon Martin 2.0"

Robert Zimmerman, Jr. Personal photo

Robert Zimmerman, Jr.
Personal photo

(CBS) - Two days after he tweeted a controversial image comparing Trayvon Martin to an alleged baby-killer, Robert Zimmerman, the brother of the man facing murder charges in Martin's death,  told CBS News' Crimesider that the tweet was meant to "provoke discussion" about the difference between how Martin portrayed himself online, and the way he has been portrayed in the media.

PICTURES: George Zimmerman faces murder charge

"Trayvon Martin has been depicted as a canonized saint," said Robert Zimmerman Jr. "But to our family, that's the person that almost killed my brother."

Zimmerman's younger brother, George, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. George Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the charges and claims he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense during an altercation. His trial is scheduled to begin in June.

On Sunday, Robert Zimmerman Jr. tweeted an image of Martin holding up two middle fingers, beside an image of De'Marquise Kareem Elkins, the Georgia teen accused of fatally shooting a 1-year-old in his stroller last week. Elkins also appears to be flipping off the camera.

An image of De'Marquise Kareem Elkins and Trayvon Martin tweeted March 24, 2013 by Robert Zimmerman, Jr.
Twitter

Zimmerman, 32, told Crimesider that he found the photographs by doing a Google search on the name of each teen. The photo of Martin came from a post on the Council of Conservative Citizens website, and the one of Elkins appeared on a website called the Chicago News Report. He then created the illustration himself - adding the words, "A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?"

In the days and weeks after Martin's death, as the story of his shooting and the fact that the man who killed him had not been arrested made national news, many news outlets illustrated their stories with photographs of Martin that were several years old. At the same time, Zimmerman said that the images of his brother - some of which were taken when George was significantly heavier than he was on the night of the shooting - made him look like a "monster."

Zimmerman said that, side-by-side, those images created a false sense of both Martin and his brother: "In a self-defense case, it's important to show who my brother was defending himself against. It wasn't a 12-year-old."

The tweet, however, struck many as being racist and highly insensitive, especially given the fact that Martin is deceased. Zimmerman said that was not his intention.

These images of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were among the first published
CBS/AP

"I'm not saying these two guys are the same and so are all black teenagers," he said. "This is the way these individuals chose to portray themselves. [Elkins] is being portrayed in the media as he portrayed himself to be, why isn't Trayvon Martin?"

On Wednesday, Zimmerman tweeted an apology: "I'm sincerely sorry my tweet offended many - I made a serious error in judgment abt the way it wld convey & understand why it is offensive"

Zimmerman, a classical singer who said his music has taken a back seat to his role as a spokesperson for his family, said he wants the media to stop accepting the "massaged and controlled" image of Martin and start digging into the teen's life the way they examined his brother's. A year after the shooting, Zimmerman believes we now have "new context" about Martin - what he calls "Trayvon Martin 2.0" - and that the media should stop depicting the teen as "a child walking home eating Skittles."

"All I did was post one picture of Trayvon and [Elkins] the way they portrayed themselves before they were in the spotlight," said Zimmerman. "If he was portrayed the way he portrayed himself it might not have gotten to this point."

Complete coverage of the Trayvon Martin case on CBS News

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for CBSNews.com

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.