He also ventured into what was viewed as a dangerous neighborhood in Orlando to mentor a pair of black kids, telling his mother, “If I don’t go, they don’t have nobody.” He continued meeting the kids twice a month even after the program was shut down for lack of funds, she said.
“That was George, that was my son, who organized a meeting so that a poor man could have justice,” said Gladys Zimmerman, under oath. “He’s very protective of people, very protective of homeless people. He likes to defend people. He likes to protect people.”
"He's always been concerned about people in society, so he wanted to be able to help somehow," Robert Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s father, told Judge Kenneth Lester in response to a question about why Zimmerman had been studying criminal justice in college.
Social justice has been at the core of the Trayvon Martin story.
It was the social justice website Change.org that introduced the petition that brought notice to the case, eventually leading to the appointment of a special prosecutor and second degree murder charges. Offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street movement have rallied for Zimmerman’s arrest and on behalf of Trayvon and his family. Civil rights activists have held vigils and protests across the country.
Certainly, suggestions by his parents that Zimmerman shares some of the values of his harshest critics doesn’t absolve the notion that racial stereotypes, specifically Zimmerman’s view of young black males, may have played a role in his decision to pursue Trayvon on foot, against the advice of a police dispatcher, leading to the confrontation where Trayvon died.
Police say Zimmerman made a mistake in “profiling” Martin as a criminal. Moreover, Zimmerman’s social justice ideals may have clashed with a desire to safeguard his neighborhood, where he had organized a neighborhood watch group after a series of burglaries.