A recently released phone conversation between George Zimmerman, charged in the death of Trayvon Martin, and controversial minister Terry Jones features Zimmerman pleading with the Florida pastor to resist holding a supportive rally in his name.
Zimmerman's phone calls were recorded while he remained in Seminole County Jail in the weeks following his arrest for the fatal shooting of teen Trayvon Martin. These phone calls, which number 150, became public Monday, July 16, as part of Florida's sweeping open records laws.
Jones, who is the pastor of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., had plans to protest in front of the Seminole County Jail in support of what he calls Zimmerman's constitutional Second Amendment rights to carry a firearm and the constitutional edict that one is innocent until proven guilty.
In an April interview with Loop 21 explaining the planned protest, Jones says: "We are by no means taking sides. We are by no means by our action in Sanford saying that Trayvon Martin is innocent or guilty and we are definitely not forming an opinion on George Zimmerman. We are not defending him and we are not condemning him."
"The family of Trayvon Martin deserves and should have all of the emotional support that they can possibly receive and at the same time George Zimmerman should also have that emotional support," Jones added.
In the April 19 phone conversation, Zimmerman tells Jones that although he appreciates the gesture, he thought that it was important for the community to have "time for healing."
"I was calling today to ask you humbly, from one God-fearing sinner to another, for time for healing, for not only the city of Sanford but America," Zimmerman asked, as reported by The Huffington Post.
"I know that your intentions are good, and I know that ultimately God will see his will be done, however, I see that Saturday – I just ask that you allow the city to heal and America to heal," he continued.
"I just ask that perhaps instead of coming Saturday and protesting, we allow law enforcement to do their job and not lose focus, and that perhaps you could even come and visit and pray with me instead of protesting," added Zimmerman.
The neighborhood watchman concluded: "I like to think this is a storm, in that Jesus is asking all of us to have faith and calm the storm."
Critics argue that Zimmerman was actively avoiding any public connection to Jones, who has made a controversial name for himself in the past through numerous Quran burnings, as well as hanging an effigy of President Barack Obama on the front lawn of his Florida church.
Jones has also been criticized for pursuing news stories which are sure to gain him public attention. The controversial pastor did, however, acknowledge Zimmerman's request and did not have a protest in his name.
Zimmerman was arrested on the night of Feb. 26 for the shooting and killing of Martin. The killing, as well as Zimmerman's release shortly afterward, caused immense public outcry.
Martin, 17, was walking home unarmed in a Stanford gated community when he got into a violent confrontation with Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman.
Zimmerman, 28, who is part Hispanic, shot and killed Martin, who is African-American. Zimmerman argues that he was acting in self-defense, but the incident has created a nationwide debate on racial profiling and Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows the use of deadly force in some cases of self-defense.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in Martin's death, and his trial is ongoing. Zimmerman currently remains out of jail on bond.