The family rescued from an overturned vehicle last week by acquitted murder suspect George Zimmerman are terrified of being drawn into the the national firestorm surrounding the Trayvon Martin case – and the potential dangers it could bring, according to a Mail Online report.
They’re so afraid they canceled a news conference scheduled for Wednesday so they could address the media, get it over with and try to return to their privacy, ABC News reported Wednesday afternoon.
The Port Orange, Fla., family – Mark and Dana Gerstle and their two children — had planned to conduct a news conference in the Orlando office of Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara to discuss the July 17 accident, but ended up calling it off, ABC reported.
“The family called because they wanted to address the media. I knew that if we did it in an organized way, it would help them get back to a normal life. But they called today and said they were more worried about blow back from saying anything that would be favorable to George, and decided they did not want to do any media,” O’Mara said.
O’Mara told ABC the Gerstles’ “voices were trembling,” when he spoke to the couple. Anything they said that was positive about Zimmerman, O’Mara said, “would be toxic.”
Zimmerman, who has been the target of death threats since he killed Martin during a confrontation in February 2011, has become a symbol of racial distrust that has only grown more intense since a jury acquitted him of murder on July 13.
With protests around the country degenerating into violence and death threats being reported against the jurors who decided the case, the Gerstles don’t want to become targets for anti-Zimmerman feelings, friends told the publication.
“They are very grateful to Zimmerman for what he did, but they do not want to get involved,” a friend said, according to the Mail Online.
“There is so much hatred directed towards him they have got to think about their own family. There are a lot of crazies out there. If they say anything in support of him it could backfire.”
The Mail Online did not identify the friend.
The Gerstles and their two children were in an SUV when it overturned around Interstate 4 and State Road 46 about 5:45 p.m., according to reports.
Zimmerman who was passing by in a vehicle with another man stopped and pulled the family from the SUV.
According to reports, Mark Gerstle recognized Zimmerman at the scene.
“George Zimmerman pulled me out,” he told emergency responders, according to the Mail.
Now, the family recognizes they could be in danger from the Zimmerman-hating crowd, the Mail reported.
The Gerstles have declined to speak to the media that had flocked around the family home on Tuesday, the Mail reported.
“He is a very quiet man and will not like having his name mentioned all over the press,” an unidentified neighbor told the Mail. “I am sure he is very grateful to Zimmerman but he is not the type you will see on a chat show talking about what happened.”
“Mark has two young children and has got to live his life round here. Why would he want to mark himself out?” the friend said.
“Whatever he says could be taken out of context. If he praises Zimmerman then people will say he is making him into a hero. It is easier if he says nothing.
“Let’s face it, George Zimmerman is pretty toxic right now.”
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