On February 26, as the family of murdered Florida teen Trayvon Martin mourn the second anniversary of his fatal shooting at the hands of 28-year-old neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, the man responsible for his death will be gearing up to fight rapper DMX in a televised celebrity boxing match on March 1.
Zimmerman was cleared of the murder and manslaughter of Martin in July 2013 citing Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, which allows you to use lethal force when in self-defence. More shocking than his acquittal was his lack of remorse for the event, posing for pictures in the factory that produced the firearm he shot and killed Martin with just weeks after the trial concluded. Martin was armed only with fruit juice and a bag of Skittles but had his hood up – reason enough, a jury ruled, for Zimmerman to open fire on the 17-year-old.
“Once I’m done with him, I am going to whip my dick out and piss on him,” DMX – real name Earl Simmons – told reporters. “Zimmerman is a piece of shit and that’s what he needs to drink.” Simmons was one of several rappers to offer to fight Zimmerman after it was announced the 30-year-old would be taking part in a celebrity boxing event. “I would not be boxing for me,” West Coast rapper The Game told the press. “I’d be boxing for the legacy of Trayvon Martin and for his family. I would box him to knock him out. I would definitely take pleasure in it.” It’s since been confirmed that DMX will go three rounds with Zimmerman on March 1, organised by promoter Damon Feldman.
As tempting as it must be to step into the ring with Zimmerman, what’s it going to achieve? Simmons is no angel himself, with a string of drug and assault convictions to his name, but where his criminal rap sheet is an unfortunate side note to his talent as a Grammy-nominated emcee and actor, Zimmerman is attempting to forge a media career based solely on his notoriety as Martin’s killer. He’s an opportunist nobody. Are we really about to indulge this man’s warped delusions of fame? Because by taking part in any kind of celebrity event with him, that’s exactly what Simmons will be doing.
In a week where figures emerged showing 12,000 people died from gun violence in 2013 in the US – that’s around 30 a day – emcees are better off rallying against the injustice of Martin’s killing on the mic. ‘Killing In The Name’, Rage Against The Machine’s account of black construction worker Rodney King’s beating at the hands of four white police officers, Ice Cube’s ‘Who’s Got The Camera’ and NWA’s ‘Fuck The Police’ did more to alert the world to the corruption of the US courts than any kind of brawling, whether vigilante or as part of some ratings-chasing TV event.