Quick! You've been found not guilty in a highly publicized murder trial covered by every news station in the country. What do you do next?
If you answered, "Heave a sigh of relief and try to live the rest of my life in relative obscurity," you may be an average person. If you answered, "Start complaining about legal fees and visiting gun factories while the media is still focused on me," you might be George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was acquitted last month by a jury who found him not guilty of murdering Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, which accepted Zimmerman's claim that he acted in self-defense.
The case gained national attention because of its racial undertones. Zimmerman was a Hispanic American, and Martin was an unarmed African American teenager walking home from a convenience store. Intense media coverage generated a massive wave of discussion concerning society's perception of African American men, gun control, and Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law.
Zimmerman argued throughout the case that he operated within the bounds of said law, and when he was found not guilty, what can only be described as a self-satisfied smirk spread across his face. But while his relief at being acquitted is completely understandable, but any hope that he wasn't enjoying the media circus surrounding his trial has been dashed in the past week.
First Zimmerman made moves to ask the state of Florida to reimburse him for up to $300,000 in legal fees. The request is based on a Florida law that allows acquitted defendants to be reimbursed for legal fees.
As anyone who read a news article or turned on the TV during the trial knows, America practically convicted Zimmerman before the jury had a chance. He may have been acquitted, but the country's reaction shows that many peoples' minds were still made up. The best course for Zimmerman, then, would be to quietly slink into the background and accept that high legal fees are better than prison.
He's also shopping for guns, a move that screams, "I'm getting ready for my next kill." Last week, Zimmerman visited the Kel-Tec gun factory, the same factory that manufactured the gun used to shoot Trayvon Martin. He didn't buy anything, but he asked questions about the legality of buying a shotgun and happily posed for a picture with the factory owner:
Even if it can be argued that his appeal for reimbursement is not a publicity stunt, it's hard to make that case for the gun factory visit. Zimmerman's brother defended him, saying, "Grown men buy guns or shop for guns or visit gun manufacturers every day."
Fair enough. But all of those grown men aren't perceived as cold-blooded murderers by a large portion of America.
Zimmerman is not acting outside of the law, but he isn't doing himself any favors either. His recent actions exude an arrogance that is likely to rub many people the wrong way. He's taking the risk of becoming an OJ-like figure ... someone whose name is synonymous with murder.