By Brendan O’Brien
May 12 – The Florida man who shot dead black youth Trayvon Martin in an incident that prompted nationwide civil rights protests will auction the gun he used on Thursday and use some proceeds to challenge presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s gun control policies, the auction website said.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently returned to George Zimmerman the Kel Tec 9mm gun that he used to kill Martin, an unarmed black teenager, on Feb. 26, 2012, according to Gunbroker.com, the website where the weapon is being auctioned.
Zimmerman described the weapon as “a piece of American history”, according to the website.
The one-day auction is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) on Thursday with bidding starting at $5,000.
Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer at the time of the incident, said the shooting was in self-defense. Martin’s family said the teenager was simply passing through the housing area on his way home from a convenience store.
Zimmermann was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the incident that stirred civil rights rallies and drew international attention to Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law.
President Barack Obama said after the acquittal of Zimmerman that Martin “could have been me, 35 years ago” and urged Americans to understand the pain African-Americans felt over the case.
Zimmerman said on the website he planned to use a portion of the proceeds to fight Black Lives Matter, a black rights movement that grew out of the incident, and counter “violence against law enforcement officers.”
Proceeds would also be used to help fight Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s “anti-firearm rhetoric,” he said.
“I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American firearm icon. The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin,” he said in the description.
The number from the Martin case is written on the pistol in silver permanent marker and “many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm,” he said in the description.
Zimmerman, who has had brushes with law enforcement since his acquittal, was the target of an attempted murder on the part of Matthew Apperson in a Florida road dispute in May 2015, according to prosecutors.