The NAACP has decided to give George Zimmerman a lifetime achievement award.
In a statement released on its website this morning, the organization’s Florida branch said it decided to honor the man who killed Trayvon Martin for his subsequent work at a local YMCA, where he gives free boxing lessons to underprivileged black youths.
“Everybody makes mistakes,”the statement reads, “and George Zimmerman certainly made a big one. However, since his acquittal on murder charges he has become a pillar of this community.
“Every day George comes into the gym and jousts with young black men. As an expert boxer, he could be paid thousands for his work. But he doesn’t ask for a dime. Do you know why? Because George Zimmerman cares about the black community.
“The NAACP hopes this award will help heal the racial divide in our state by illuminating the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, no matter what their race.”
Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in 2012 while on neighborhood watch near his Sanford, Florida home. Although he claimed he acted in self-defense, it later emerged that he pursued Martin against the instructions of 911 dispatch.
Last year a jury acquitted him of murder, but he remains a controversial figure in the African-American community.
The NAACP is already under fire for lauding Donald Sterling, who was caught on tape last week making racist comments about black people. He was scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award just days later.
It later emerged that Sterling had made large donations to the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter, opening the organization up to charges that its awards are for sale.
Indeed in this case, tax records show that Zimmerman used cash from his legal defense fund to make a $20,000 donation to the Florida NAACP.
He is expected to receive his award next Tuesday in Miami.