George Zimmerman, who rose to national notoriety in 2012 after shooting and killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, is now selling prints of a Confederate flag painting, in part to benefit a Florida gun store owner who is facing a lawsuit after declaring his business “Muslim-free.”
The prints -- copies of an original work hand-painted by Zimmerman -- are available for about $50 each at Florida Gun Supply in the city of Inverness. Andy Hallinan, the store’s owner, declared his store a “Muslim-free” zone in a July YouTube video, on the grounds that he did not want to “arm and train those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations subsequently filed a lawsuit against Hallinan, WFLA reports.
Zimmerman had initially set out to paint an American flag, but after hearing about that lawsuit, he “decided to scrap the original American Flag painting and repaint it with a Confederate (Battle) Flag,” according to an FAQ section about the painting on the Florida Gun Supply site.
The painting is emblazoned with the words “The 2nd protects our 1st" -- a reference to both the Bill of Rights and the way Zimmerman changed his painting from an American flag to a Confederate flag.
"You cannot have the 1st amendment without the 2nd, and you cannot have the American Flag if you remove the Battle Flag," the FAQ reads -- evidently a nod toward the idea that the rights represented by the American flag, like free speech, protect the rights of citizens to display the Confederate battle flag.
The FAQ says that proceeds from the prints will be split between Zimmerman and Hallinan to “support their legal funds, living expenses and advancing their mission to change the country,” and that the men will donate an unspecified percentage to the Boys & Girls Club. Everyone who buys a print will also be entered into a raffle to win the original painting, which the site says “could be worth up to $100,000.”
An earlier Zimmerman painting of an American flag did indeed sell for about that much in 2013.
The FAQ is emphatic about how the Confederate flag is not "a symbol of racism," arguing that “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” -- a line of reasoning that doesn't quite explain why Hallinan has declared his business a Muslim-free zone.
The site also includes a 10-minute video of Hallinan mostly criticizing the mainstream media, which you can watch below.
UPDATE: 8/27, 1:20 p.m. -- While the Florida Gun Supply FAQ originally stated that a portion of the proceeds from Zimmerman's prints would be donated to the Boys & Girls Club, the charity issued a statement on Aug. 19 distancing itself from Hallinan's business. "Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and its local affiliates have no knowledge of this plan, were not approached about it and did not approve the use of their name, and have issued a cease-and-desist order to the owner," the statement reads.
At some point since Aug. 18, when this story was originally published, the gun store changed the language on its FAQ page to reflect the Boys & Girls Club's wishes.
"A percentage of the proceeds will also go directly to a charity of our choosing," the FAQ page now reads. "We said in the video we would give a portion of the proceeds to the Boys and Girls Club, but they then told me they didn't want me to use their name in my video. We were just trying to support them!"
Contact the author of this article at Hilary.Hanson@huffingtonpost.com.