As George Zimmerman’s legal team began a new social media presence for him this week, one of its first challenges on the new Facebook page has been responding to questions about an old MySpace account, where he made disparaging remarks about Mexicans.
The Miami Herald reported that Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, has confirmed that the abandoned 2005 account belonged to his client. On the MySpace page, Mr. Zimmerman calls himself “Joe G” and is pictured holding a small child. He writes about leaving Manassas, Va., with mixed emotions. He also refers to his two previous arrests, describes his former girlfriend as his “ex-ho” and makes an obscure reference about two friends who went to jail for a year and did not mention his involvement, even though they could have had him “pinched.”
In the section, where he writes about leaving Manassas, he says that he missed his old friends because “no one is going to have your back like your boys who grew up with you and are as scared of your mommas as you are. You know who you are, the same ones that would come ova and have my pops tie your tie before every school dance and interview.”
Then, in a riff about why he does not miss his childhood home outside of Washington, he makes remarks about Mexicans, using slang as he seemingly discussed recent immigrants.
I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book. Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!
Mr. Zimmerman, 28, was arrested on second-degree murder charges two weeks ago in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old who was walking through a gated development to a family friend’s home on Feb. 26. After police did not immediately arrest Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, protests and marches popped up around the country spawning a national conversation about racial profiling, Florida’s self-defense laws and the criminal justice system.
Mr. Zimmerman’s mother is from Peru and he identifies himself as Hispanic. Mr. Martin was black. He told investigators that he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense.
Angela B. Corey, the special prosecutor appointed by the governor to handle the case, declined to comment on Mr. Zimmerman’s writings on his MySpace account.
Benjamin Crump, who is a lawyer representing the family of Mr. Martin, said in an interview that he believed that prosecutors in the case could point to what Mr. Zimmerman wrote as evidence that he has a history of racial profiling. “I am not saying that George Zimmerman is a racist,” Mr. Crump said. “I am just saying that if he has a history where he has profiled people before, the prosecutor could use that to show that it is a pattern.”
On the new Facebook page that was set up in the last few days by Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mr. O’Mara, at least 130 people had commented as of Wednesday night on a link that is posted about Mr. Zimmerman’s MySpace profile. Instead of ducking what could be viewed as negative publicity about Mr. Zimmerman, the Facebook page — where comments are moderated by the legal case team — has become a place where people are commenting about it, on both sides of the issue.
The Facebook page and Twitter account for Mr. Zimmerman was introduced in the last few days. As explained in this initial post, the idea behind the social media presence, Mr. O’Mara wrote that the goal is to discredit fraudulent Web sites and social media profiles, dispute misinformation and provide a voice for Mr. Zimmerman and a way for people to communicate with the law firm, among other things:
We understand that it is unusual for a legal defense to maintain a social media presence on behalf of a defendant, but we also acknowledge that this is a very unusual case. Here are our justifications for our online efforts, and some guidelines we have put in place to help you understand what you can expect. We do understand and acknowledge the criticism that this is an opportunistic move using the event of a tragedy for personal or firm gain. Rest assured, that if the controversy surrounding this matter subsided tomorrow, so would our efforts to address the perceived problems the way we feel is necessary.
First, we contend that social media in this day and age cannot be ignored. It is now a critical part of presidential politics, it has been part of revolutions in the Middle East, and it is going to be an unavoidable part of high-profile legal cases, just as traditional media has been and continues to be. We feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation, and we feel equally as strong about establishing a professional, responsible, and ethical approach to new media.
In addition to communication, an online presence for Mr. Zimmerman has also proved to be lucrative. He raised about $200,000 from a Web site that he set up himself while he was in hiding and under investigation. As part of Mr. Zimmerman’s online presence now, Mr. O’Mara, working with Shawn Vincent, a digital marketing consultant from Orlando, Fla., has also set up alegal defense fund site to gather donations.