It's been nearly a month since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was gunned down in a Florida gated community by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is not in jail right now. In fact, he's hiding out after receiving numerous death threats. Why is this? Because of Florida's disgusting "Stand Your Ground" law.
Basically, the law eliminates the legal requirement that a person outside of his or her own home retreat rather than use force. However, there is nothing in the law that allows one to pursue and confront someone. Zimmerman took it upon himself to follow Trayvon even after the police advised otherwise.
The problem is that the actual language of the statute says that anyone can use deadly force when "he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or any other." This leaves a lot of room for anyone to get away with doing horrible things by saying they were acting in self defense. Even though this law does not explicitly give people the right to pursue and follow someone with a gun, it might as well.
This is a horrible piece of legislation that was heavily supported and lobbied by the National Rifle Association (NRA), obviously for financial reasons. Because of this legislation, more people bought guns and more people joined the NRA. Now an innocent young black boy is dead and his killer is still not in jail.
Leaving the law business aside, let's be honest. Trayvon Martin was murdered because he was black. He was wearing a hoodie and Zimmerman thought he looked "suspicious." To leave race out of this issue is to ignore the real problem here. Apparently some people think that there is no way that Zimmerman could be racist since he's Mexican. This argument is wrong on so many levels, but I am not going to go there right now. Unfortunately, racism did not disappear with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, people. We are far from being above it.
As a girl who is half black, this disturbs and saddens me, but I realize that it is a fact of life. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and I was the only black girl in my graduating class in high school. I know how it feels to get weird looks when my dad and I are driving in our neighborhood. People used to turn their heads as we passed by and I knew they were probably wondering "what we were doing in that part of town." I am not saying this to evoke pity or to complain. I am saying this to spread awareness that racism is not over. The fight for equality is not over.
I think a lot of us forget that we have not come as far as we think in this country in terms of race. Most Americans tend to think of themselves as being pretty progressive. Most would say that they have quite a few "close black friends." This is great, but we are naive if we think that race did not come into play here. It is up to all of us to take a stand, no matter what race we are, and to say that THIS IS NOT OK.
The "Stand your Ground Law" must be repealed. It is a useless and harmful statute and it is the sole reason why Zimmerman walks free today.
In the name of justice, please sign this petition to repeal the law. It will not bring Trayvon back, but it could prevent another grave injustice.
We will not stop. The fight has only just begun.