George Zimmerman, the man who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, accused one of Martin’s friends of perjury and Martin’s family and attorney of encouraging perjury in a far-right publication last Thursday. It came a day after he announced a $100 million lawsuit against the family and others, led by right-wing conspiracy theorist Larry Klayman.
On the right-wing blog American Thinker, Zimmerman painted himself the victim in what he calls “the 2012 incident in Sanford, Florida, in which Trayvon Martin died” and claimed he acted in self-defense—an argument that granted him an acquittal in the murder trial in 2013. No mention, of course, was made of the fact that Zimmerman racially profiled and followed Martin, an unarmed black child, before shooting him.
After blaming Martin family attorney and civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump for his reputation as a bigot, Zimmerman suggested that he couldn’t be a bigot because he is Hispanic and supported Obama.
“What followed immediately was a campaign of race-based defamation and incitement against me, led by Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump,” Zimmerman writes. “I am the last person who ever expected to be accused of being a bigot. I am Hispanic. My mother is from Peru. I speak fluent Spanish. I was an Obama supporter and a social activist.”
But the crux of Zimmerman’s article—and his lawsuit—is a claim that Martin’s friend, 18-year-old Rachel Jeantel, “was an imposter.”
Martin was on the phone with Jeantel shortly before his death and had told her that someone was following him, Jeantel testified in the 2013 murder trial.
As with most conspiracy theories, Zimmerman’s is hard to follow and willfully distorts the facts. Zimmerman claims that another girl, Diamond Euguene, was the one on the phone with Martin, but that she didn’t want to testify, so her half-sister Rachel Jeantel, urged on by others, took her place. Zimmerman wrote:
Then, out of the blue, Crump produced a recorded interview of a “phone witness,” whom, he said, was Trayvon Martin’s 16-year-old girlfriend, “Diamond Eugene.”
In the recorded interview with Diamond Eugene, Crump openly led the witness. She mostly just echoed everything Crump said. Two weeks later, prosecutors went to Miami to interview 16-year-old Diamond Eugene under oath. That’s when, as I recently learned, 18-year-old Rachel Jeantel appeared, claiming she was Diamond Eugene. Despite the discrepancy in name and age, prosecutors interviewed Rachel Jeantel anyway and used her obviously false statements to issue an affidavit of probable cause for my arrest. The rest is history.
Hollywood filmmaker Joel Gilbert just released a film and book of the same name, The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America. He investigated the public records and made a discovery – Rachel Jeantel was an imposter. She was not “Diamond Eugene.” She was not Trayvon’s girlfriend. She was not on the phone with him before our altercation. She lied in court about everything she claimed to have heard over the phone in order to send me to prison for life.
In The Trayvon Hoax, Gilbert not only proves that Rachel was a fraud, he actually finds Trayvon’s real girlfriend, Diamond Eugene, studying Criminal Justice at Florida State University, of all things! Gilbert also identifies those who knew about the witness fraud, such as Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton, now a 2020 Miami Dade Commissioner candidate. Gilbert also identifies the attorneys who likely knew and/or should have known about the witness switch.
As The Atlantic and other outlets reported at the time, before the trial began, Jeantel did lie about her name and her age in an attempt to avoid getting dragged into the very public case. But Jeantel was the friend who spoke with Martin in the minutes before Zimmerman killed Martin. As Essence notes, there are numerous problems with the lawsuit: Jeantel never claimed to be Martin’s girlfriend, and cell phone records confirmed the two were speaking with each other minutes before Martin’s death.
Zimmerman claims he is filing the lawsuit against Martin’s parents and others to heal racial division in America, but he can’t help but play the victim.
“The damage the trial did to me and my family has been devastating,” Zimmerman wrote. “I suffered from PTSD and, as a result, acted out for a few years before finally returning to the person I was. I was kicked out of college due to threats against the staff by the New Black Panthers. I lost my career path to become an attorney, and to this day I cannot work or even circulate in public.”
“In 2015, someone tried to kill me,” he continued, in reference to a road rage incident. “The bullet missed my head by inches, and the shooter got 20 years in prison. Today I remain in hiding, as does my family due to constant threats, which appear almost daily in rap songs and social media rants.”
Behind Zimmerman’s accusations are a series of right-wing figures. Zimmerman’s allegation is based on right-wing filmmaker Joel Gilbert’s so-called documentary, “The Trayvon Hoax,” and his article follows the same narrative and language as a trailer for the film. Gilbert also produced the 2012 film, “Dreams From My Real Father,” which pushed the alternative birther theory that President Obama’s father was, in fact, labor activist Frank Marshall Davis.
Funding and leading Zimmerman’s $100 million lawsuit is Klayman. Klayman, who has a record of perpetuating racist conspiracy theories, once claimed that Obama’s comments about the Trayvon Martin case “unmasked his hateful intentions to make ‘whitey’ and the others pay back ‘his people’ for prior discrimination.” Klayman has also represented conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi in his suit against Robert Mueller, accusing Mueller of constitutional violations and leaking grand jury secrets.
In Renew America Sunday, Klayman compared himself to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in his defense of Zimmerman and people like Cliven and Ryan Bundy, former sheriff Joe Arpaio, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. He then threatened to sue ABC News for reporting that “The Boca Raton attorney has a long history of suing black lawmakers and pushing conspiracy theories.”
Quoting Michael Jackson, Klayman summed up his advocacy of Zimmerman, claiming, “‘It don’t matter if you are black or white,’ explains my advocacy on behalf of George Zimmerman and the American people in general.”