Trayvon Martin’s killer Zimmerman paints Confederate flag to praise Muslim-banning gun shop owner
Former neighborhood watchman-turned-acquitted-killer George Zimmerman has dedicated his latest artwork — a painting of the Confederate battle flag — to a Florida Gun Supply owner who has banned Muslims from his store and is being sued by Muslim activists.
"This painting was painted in honor of Andy Hallinan for being a true patriot and leading the country into a better, safer America," the painting's description on Hallinan's website says.
George and Andy say they will be splitting the proceeds from the sale of the Confederate battle flag. The money is set to go towards their "legal funds, living expenses and advancing their mission to change the country."
The stars and bars prints on his latest picture feature the caption "The 2nd Protects Our 1st." Each copy is up for grabs for $48.90 if paid in cash. The original, said to be potentially worth $100,000, will be later awarded to one of the buyers.
Zimmerman says he started painting an American flag when he heard about Hallinan getting sued by CAIR (the Counsel for American/Islamic Relations). That's when he decided to “scrap the original American flag painting and repaint it with a Confederate (battle) flag” to support Hallinan.
Zimmerman says the 2nd flag he painted (the battle flag) is the one “we need in America in order to protect the first." Zimmerman's call to support both, the Confederacy and the American flag, sounds absurd, however, given that the two were opposed to each other like day and night. The Confederate flag was never the official flag of the Confederate States of America, becoming popular in the 1960s as a symbol of the American South's opposition to racial integration.
Zimmerman and Hallinan maintain that although it has previously been used by a “small amount of people to incite racism, however, it has not become a symbol of racism.
“You cannot assume everyone who flies a Confederate flag is racist in the same way that you cannot judge every Muslim to be a terrorist, or every gun owner to be a serial killer.”
Zimmerman also notes that the caption – 'the 2nd protects the first' – is a "double entendre," referring both to the Bill of Rights and the two flags on the canvas. “You cannot have the 1st amendment without the 2nd, and you cannot have the American Flag if you remove the battle flag,” he states.
READ MORE: Florida gun store owner announces 'Muslim-free zone,' DOJ called to investigate
The Confederate flag last caused a controversy in July when Hallinan released a video calling for "his fellow patriots" to reject accusations of intolerance and racism, while announcing a ban on Muslims at his store. He said he decided to announce a ban on Muslims following the attack by Muslim gunman Mohammed Abdulazeez that killed four US marines and one sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in mid-July. According to Hallinan, the fatal incident was not an isolated one, but rather related to other "terrorist attacks." He said his store would offer free concealed-carry classes and shooting range visits, urging viewers to "take this opportunity to get armed, get trained, and carry daily."
CAIR issued a statement in response to the video, calling on the US Department of Justice to probe possible federal civil rights violations by businesses in Florida and New Hampshire seeking to ban Muslims.
READ MORE: Thousands protest Zimmerman verdict as DoJ vows to restart hate crime inquiry
Zimmerman made headlines when he fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin in 2012, claiming he had acted in self-defense. The prosecution insisted that Zimmerman was guilty of second-degree murder, stating that he racially profiled the unarmed teen and assumed he was a criminal when he saw him walking through a gated community in Sanford. They claimed that Zimmerman tracked the boy down and started the fight that led to the shooting.
Thousands took to streets across the US in July 2013 after a Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman of all charges relating to the killing of the high school student, while he could have been sentenced to life in prison or up to 30 years for manslaughter had he been found guilty.