George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed black teenager Trayvon Martin in an incident that triggered nationwide civil rights protests, listed the gun he used in the incident for auction in order to raise money to challenge presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's gun control policies and the Black Lives Matter movement.
But on Thursday afternoon the listing was suddenly removed from the auction website, GunBroker.com. In its place is a message that says, "Sorry, but the item you have requested is no longer in the system."
A cached listing is viewable here.
"Late last night, George Zimmerman created a listing on our web site for the gun from the Trayvon Martin case four years ago," the website later said in an online statement. "Listings on the GunBroker.com web site are user-generated, exactly like social media posts. Mr. Zimmerman never contacted anyone at GunBroker.com prior to or after the listing was created and no one at GunBroker.com has any relationship with Zimmerman. Our site rules state that we reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion, and have done so with the Zimmerman listing. We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving."
The US Department of Justice recently returned to Zimmerman the Kel Tec 9mm gun that he had used to kill Martin, an unarmed youth, on February 26, 2012, according to the listing's item description.
"I am honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American Firearm Icon. The firearm for sale is the firearm that was used to defend my life and end the brutal attack from Trayvon Martin," he said in the description.
Zimmerman referred to the weapon as "a piece of American history."
The one-day auction was scheduled to begin at 11am EST on Thursday, with bidding starting at $5,000. Zimmerman said on the website he planned to use a portion of the proceeds to fight the Black Lives Matter movement, and to counter "violence against law enforcement officers." Proceeds would also be used to help fight Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's "anti-firearm rhetoric."
"I'm a free American," Zimmerman said in a phone interview about the auction listing that was televised by an Orlando Fox affiliate. "I can do what I like with my possessions."
The Trayvon Martin Foundation "has no comment on the actions of that person that murdered Trayvon," Martin's father, Tracy Martin, said in a statement.
Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer at the time of the incident, said the shooting was in self-defense. Martin's family said the teenager was simply passing through the housing area on his way home from a convenience store.
Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the incident that stirred civil rights rallies and drew international attention to Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law.
Related: Stand Your Ground Laws Are Alive and Well in America
President Barack Obama said after the acquittal of Zimmerman that Martin "could have been me, 35 years ago" and urged Americans to understand the pain African Americans felt over the case.
The number from the Martin case is written on the pistol in silver permanent marker and "many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm," he said in the description.
Zimmerman, who has had brushes with law enforcement since his acquittal, was the target of an attempted murder by Matthew Apperson in a Florida road dispute in May 2015, according to prosecutors.
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