Robert Zimmerman Jr., the brother of George Zimmerman, responded quickly Friday after President Obama’s surprise statement about the Trayvon Martin case.
“The president is reinforcing much of the mythology surrounding the case,” Zimmerman told The Daily Caller via phone immediately following the President’s afternoon statement.
While he disagreed with Obama’s characterization of some of the facts of the case, he agreed that much work needs to be done to improve the lot of black youth across the country.
President Obama said in the press conference, “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
The President said that the nation must address the problems faced by young black males.
“We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys,” he said, adding that he and First Lady Michelle Obama often discuss the issue.
Zimmerman Jr. told TheDC that his brother was doing exactly what the president suggested well before he encountered Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
“George is a Hispanic man who was mentoring two African American children before the incident,” Zimmerman recalled. He told The DC that the father of those children is serving a life sentence in prison. “It goes without saying that African Americans are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, and I think George was trying to break that cycle.”
“I can’t think of a better way to encourage children than to take the time to show them that they matter as people and, more importantly to society at large,” than engaging in mentoring roles, said Zimmerman Jr.
The President acknowledged that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law did not necessarily apply in the Zimmerman case, but he addressed Stand Your Ground laws in his unscripted remarks.
“And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?”
Zimmerman Jr. told TheDC that “the scenario [the President] laid out was ambiguous.”
Florida governor Rick Scott, a Republican, held a prayer vigil on Thursday with a group called the Dream Defenders. That group hopes to get Stand Your Ground repealed, but Scott has said that he has no plans to repeal the law.