On February 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm Trayvon Martin was declared dead. If you’ve been hiding under a rock or not paying attention, a verdict related to his death has rocked the nation. Unfortunately, the ugly head of racism seems to have shown its face again.
Will this ever end?
Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American that was staying at The Retreat, a gated community in Sanford, Florida, where his father’s fiancé lived. At the time, he was suspended from school. This was his third time ranging from truancy to marijuana. Anyways, I believe that most Americans wouldn’t be 100% proud of all their teenage experiences. Because Trayvon wasn’t “perfect” did he deserve to die?
George Zimmerman was the 28-year-old male who killed Trayvon Martin. A trial followed and a jury of six women (five white and one minority) recently acquitted him of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges. He was an insurance underwriter while attending school with the goal of being a judge. However, he was also a neighborhood watch captain. Zimmerman called the cops 46 times in the last eight years to report suspicious activity involving black males. He has a criminal record that includes a July 2005 arrest for resisting an officer with violence. In August 2005, his former fiancé sought a restraining order against Zimmerman. Also, George Zimmerman’s father is a retired Magistrate Judge for the Supreme Court of Virginia.
I believe Florida’s (and 20+ other states) insane Stand Your Ground Law played a key role in Zimmerman’s acquittal. According to NBC News: “There are three parts to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. It states that a person is presumed to have reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm when using defensive force if an intruder has broken into his or her home or vehicle and is justified in using force; it states that a person does not have a duty to retreat if he or she believes death or bodily harm is imminent; and it provides immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force. What made it such radical legislation was the automatic presumption of reasonable fear. Inside Florida homes and cars, it overrode previous self-defense laws that required proof that an individual felt a reasonable enough level of fear to use self-defense.”
Was Trayvon allowed to stand his ground with Zimmerman?
During the trial, the dead teenage Trayvon was continuously harassed in the media. According to the New York Daily News: “Ted Nugent wasted no time in providing ammunition to further stoke tensions over the George Zimmerman case. The conservative rocker and NRA board member took aim at the controversy surrounding a Florida jury’s not guilty verdict in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — calling the teen victim a ‘dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe.’” Ted Nugent is a rock musician who’s been married three times. He met his current wife while being married to his second wife (she was only 17-years-old like Trayvon and Nugent asked the parents to be her legal guardian). Nugent has been fined for illegal hunting and also threatened the President by saying he would be in jail or dead if Obama was elected in the last election.
President Obama’s reaction to the verdict in a press briefing on July 19th: “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago…”
So very true.
Where is the common sense? I’ve had art studios in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the Bay Area including San Francisco’s Tenderloin and West Oakland, and lived in West Berkeley. When criminal activity occurred, didn’t follow a “suspect.” Called the police instead because I knew better. No need to attract trouble. Zimmerman was a wannabe cop who was told not to follow Trayvon by a dispatcher but did so anyways. Despite his history, a crazy gun law mixed with racial bias got Zimmerman off. My hope is that these laws will be eventually modified and that America can have an honest conversation about race. Meaningful change is needed in memory of Trayvon. He can no longer stand his ground but we can try.