George Zimmerman's older brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., told a group of Hispanic journalists on Thursday that he aims to confront the "tidal wave of misinformation" disseminated about his family now that his brother's murder case is in the hands of the court.
Zimmerman's family felt it was time to become more vocal about their multicultural heritage to rebut the charges of racism that have mischaracterized who they are, Zimmerman said to members of the Central Florida chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
"At the beginning we couldn't speak publicly to the media to defend ourselves against the allegations that we are family of racists and that George is a racist," Zimmerman said in Spanish. "We didn't grow up with racism. We grew up with a Latino mother and white Father. Theirs was an interracial love story."
George Zimmerman is facing second-degree murder charges in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin -- a case which has captivated the world and generated debate about racism and prejudice.
The tragedy struck a nerve and catapulted both the Martin and Zimmerman families into the public arena with a blitz of media interviews and social media campaigns.
Ever since George Zimmerman's name became synonymous with controversy, the lives of his relatives have been upended in both expected and subtle ways, his brother said.
"George is not the same as he was before," Robert Zimmerman Jr. said. "We have also changed because we are facing the reality that our brother, in defense of his life, took another's life and that is the worst situation that anyone can or could be in -- to defend themselves in that way."
The Zimmermans can no longer take their family trips to Peru, go out publicly without the possibility of feeling threatened and take pride in their family name without it prompting discomfort, Robert Zimmerman Jr. said.
Every day, he said, his family is occupied with strategizing for survival. They think up contingency plans for whatever situation should arise, such as a medical emergency.
With the case being argued in court, Robert Zimmerman Jr. said family members want a chance to tell their story and discuss their views on what he called "a malicious prosecution with little or no probable cause."
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