Helping others is a provably recurring theme of George Zimmerman’s life. Bilingual, he was a translator between parents and faculty at his elementary school by the age of 10. He is said to have tutored children in his neighborhood, helping them with homework. But perhaps the most striking example of Zimmerman’s civic activism was his protesting of how Sanford police handled the beating of Sherman Ware.
Ware was a black homeless man beaten by Justin Collison — the son of Sanford Police Department Lt. Chris Collison. Even though the incident was captured on video and Ware suffered a concussion, the younger Collison wasn’t charged until much later, after the video was made public. Zimmerman excoriated the police department for what he viewed as a coverup. He later blasted the Sanford PD after a police ride-along, during which the officer he rode with allegedly told Zimmerman his favorite place to park his squad car to take naps.
It wasn’t until a young mother in his neighborhood, Olivia Bertalan, experienced the terror of a home invasion, and Zimmerman took the initiative to help form a neighborhood watch, that he repaired his relationship with the Sanford Police Department through their civilian-watch liaison.
Much has been said about George Zimmerman since he fired one shot into the chest of Trayon Martin, but most of that has been vitriol directed at him after he became more of a symbol than a man to most. Those who knew him the longest, who lived near him, and who considered Zimmerman a friend do think George Zimmerman a very good man. George Zimmerman stepped up when no one else would after Sherman Ware was beaten down by a cop’s son, and again when Olivia Bertalan was traumatized by two home invaders.
In this jaded, isolated age when people simply don’t care about their communities and refuse to get involved, George Zimmerman chose to try to be the perfect neighbor. He cared, and dared to stand up against the injustices he perceived, even when it seemed few else did.
How many of us can claim the same?