George Zimmerman is suing Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, claiming they defamed him while paying tribute to Trayvon Martin in order to “garner votes in the black community.”
According to a lawsuit filed in a Florida court, both Warren and Buttigieg acted with malice or “at a minimum a reckless disregard for the truth” after they tweeted about Martin on February 5 on what would have been his 25th birthday.
Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed, in Sanford, Florida, in February 2012. A jury acquitted Zimmerman of murder after his lawyers argued he was acting in self-defense. The decision sparked widespread protests and unrest that helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement.
“My heart goes out to [Martin’s mother] @SybrinaFulton and Trayvon’s family and friends. He should still be with us today,” Warren tweeted to her 3.7 million followers. “We need to end gun violence and racism. And we need to build a world where all of our children-especially young Black boys-can grow up safe and free.”
In a tweet to his 1.7 million followers, Buttigieg added, “Trayvon Martin would have been 25 today. How many 25th birthdays have been stolen from us by white supremacy, gun violence, prejudice, and fear?”
Buttigieg ended his tweet using a Black Lives Matter hashtag.
Zimmerman’s lawsuit claims both Warren and Buttigieg falsely linked Martin’s death with “gun violence” despite him acting in self-defense on the night of the shooting.
The lawsuit adds that use of the term “gun violence” is more associated with the “reckless and indiscriminate use of illegally owned firearms” that results in the death of an innocent victim.
The lawsuit also claims the tweets defame Zimmerman by suggesting his actions were a result of white supremacy or racism, or that he acted out of “fear” because of Martin’s skin color.
“The only ‘fear’ Zimmerman experienced, as established in the 2013 trial and well-covered in the media, was in the context of Zimmerman believing he might go unconscious and die from the repeated beating of his head against the sidewalk pavement or by choking to death from the blood going down his throat due to his broken nose during the beating by Martin,” the lawsuit adds.
The lawsuit states that both Warren and Buttigieg’s tweets were part of their “political agenda to garner votes in the black community.”
It adds that the campaigns of Warren and Buttigieg have struggled to achieve support from voters of color. Earlier this month, six women of color left Warren’s Nevada campaign team after complaining they felt tokenized.
Buttigieg was criticized during his campaign for his response to the shooting of a black man in South Bend, Indiana—where he used to be mayor—by a white police officer. He was also condemned for comments he made in 2015 in which he said “all lives matter” as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to a recent Survey USA poll, Warren and Buttigieg only have the support of 7 percent and 6 percent of black voters, respectively, behind fellow democratic candidates Michael Bloomberg (21 percent), Joe Biden (28 percent), and Bernie Sanders (31 percent).
“It is high time that the cheap and harmful use of the race card by politicians of all stripes be made to cease and desist,” said Zimmerman’s attorney, Larry Klayman. “Their despicable ‘race tactics’ are not only causing great harm to persons such as my client George Zimmerman, but also are damaging relations between black and white Americans who are all brothers.
“The nation should applaud Mr. Zimmerman for taking a strong stand and pushing back against hack politicians like Buttigieg and Warren, who know no bounds of decency and frankly could obviously care less about whom they hurt in their quest to dishonesty use and manipulate black voters to win the 2020 Democrat presidential primary,” said Zimmerman’s attorney.