George Zimmerman paints Confederate battle flag to raise money for ‘Muslim-free’ gun store
A “Muslim-free” gun store in Florida is selling prints of the Confederate battle flag painted by the U.S.’s most controversial former neighborhood-watch member.
George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in February 2012, decided to paint the polarizing flag to raise legal fees for himself and Florida Gun Supply in Inverness.
The store’s owner, Andy Hallinan, and Zimmerman are raffling off the latter’s latest painting. For $50, each participant will receive a copy of the original.
Hallinan was heavily criticized after releasing a video in which he announced that Muslims were not welcome at his store.
“I will not arm and train those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots,” he said while standing in front of a Confederate flag.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) responded by calling upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the gun store for violating federal laws that prohibit discrimination.
“I think it is a clear and concrete demonstration of the overlap of racism and Islamophobia. It’s a clear indication that those who support the racist symbol of the Confederate flag also support bigotry targeting American Muslims,” Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR, said in an interview with Yahoo News.
After hearing of the lawsuit, Zimmerman called Hallinan to offer his support.
“Labeling everyone and anyone that has a Confederate flag as a racist is just not right,” Zimmerman said to Hallinan. “That’s one of the reasons I chose to reach out to you and see what I can do to help.”
Florida Gun Supply released a “mini-documentary” about Zimmerman and Hallinan’s friendship and the painting, which reads, “The 2nd protects the first.”
According to Zimmerman, the phrase has a double meaning: It refers to both the Second Amendment protecting the First Amendment and the Confederate battle flag protecting the American flag.
“I was painting the American flag when I heard of you getting sued by CAIR, and I decided I would do for you what the American people did for me,” Zimmerman said in the video.
The money raised through selling the prints will go to “support their legal funds, living expenses and advancing their mission to change the country,” according to the store’s website.
In July 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder charges in the black teenager’s death. But he has periodically reappeared in the national press for his subsequent run-ins with the law.
Zimmerman’s latest painting brings together three highly controversial topics with which the nation is grappling: the deaths of young black men, the Confederate flag and discrimination against American Muslims.