Damon Feldman, the celebrity boxing promoter who has secured a fight between George Zimmerman and rapper DMX, is responding to backlash he is receiving for those who claim his celebrity bout for charity may be insensitive.
Zimmerman, 30, first became infamous as a Florida neighborhood watchman who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin which sparked a great deal of public outcry. After he was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges last year, a number of people have expressed their disdain for him publicly.
After Feldman announced that Zimmerman would fight DMX in a charity bout for his Celebrity Boxing company, close to 70,000 people signed a change.org petition titled, "Stop the George Zimmerman Celebrity Boxing Match."
"We must not stand for this. We must not watch idly as Zimmerman is allowed to make a mockery of not just his victims and their families but society as a whole," the petition states. "This is not entertainment, but rather a shameful spectacle indicative of just how low we risk sinking as a culture if we allow ourselves to tolerate and worse, participate in, such an atrocious display of callous inhumanity."
Feldman caught wind of the backlash on his Twitter page and seemed open to rethinking his decision to promote the fight.
"Just want to thank everyone for the support and love I don't want anyone thinking I'm making a mockery out of the tragedy its entertainment," Feldman tweeted early Friday morning. "A lot of thinking to do this weekend."
After one person accused Feldman of not seeing value in Martin's life, Feldman responded by tweeting, "I don't know who he was I do feel bad for what happened to him real tragic."
Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist and leader of the National Action Network, is warning people against being quick to label Zimmerman a celebrity.
"We must be very careful not to glorify or in any way sidestep the implications of making someone whose only claim to fame was killing an unarmed young man named Trayvon Martin into a cultural celebrity or hero," Sharpton told CNN. "It is perfectly legal for him to exploit his fame but we should never forget what he is famous for and not behave like he is a celebrity based on gifts or talent or contributions to society."