We all know the story. Getting snacks before watching the NBA all-star game, Martin walked through Zimmerman’s gated community to a friend’s house. On his way, he was stalked by neighborhood watch captain Zimmerman. At the time, Martin was on his cell phone talking with his friend. He told her someone was stalking him and he was frightened. Meanwhile, Zimmerman called 911, reporting he was following a “suspicious-looking black male.” The police ordered Zimmerman to stop the pursuit. He ignored the police orders and started chasing the unarmed Martin mumbling “these assholes. They always get away.” When he caught up to the 17-year-old boy, he was still on the cell phone. His friend could hear his screams of fear and the shot that killed him.
The black community is saying the incident was racially motivated and it was a good example of racial profiling. They claim Zimmerman intentionally disobeyed police orders because of the color of Martin’s skin and the hoodie he was wearing. They may have a good point. Within a 10-year period, Zimmerman has called 911 46 times reporting “black people” hanging around.
Geraldo Rivera has his own point of view on racial profiling. He said every time you see a surveillance tape of someone robbing a 7-Eleven store they’re wearing a hoodie. “You have to recognize that stylizing yourself as a ‘gangsta’ wannabe people are going to perceive you as a menace. That’s what happens. It is an instant reflexive action.” Rivera said “I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly not to let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” Using that logic, I hope Zimmerman never visits the Franciscan monks or Tibet where the holy men of kindness all wear hoodies. The Miami Heat basketball team defended Martin’s right to wear whatever he wanted to by posting a picture of themselves wearing black hoodies on the Internet.
The real problem is the Stand Your Ground law. It justifies the use of “deadly force” in self-defense when there is a subjective “belief” of a threat against person or property. It removes any obligation of retreat by the threatened. As an example: In Florida and 16 other states, if a woman is approached by an unarmed panhandler on the street and she feels physically threatened by him or believes her life might be in danger, she doesn’t have a legal obligation to run away to avoid a confrontation. She can stand her ground, remove her permitted gun from her purse, use deadly force and kill the unarmed critter. It would be considered justifiable homicide because of what she “thought” might happen, not what actually did happen. No wonder justifiable homicides have increased by 283 percent in Florida since the bill was passed in 2004.
The Stand Your Ground law redefines the “castle doctrine” brought to America by the English. In 1895 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a man’s home is his castle. They opined that if a man’s home is threatened, he has the right to stand the ground and defend it at all cost. The new law allows a person to stand his ground and defend himself using deadly force against all physical “threats” towards person and property, even on the public streets.
The outrage of a nation over the tragic, senseless, premeditated murder of Trayvon Martin is justified. Now that the public sees how the law can be used against them by racists, gang members, militant groups, extremists and terrorists claiming they are only “defending themselves” and any murder they commit could be considered justifiable homicide, the law should be repealed as soon as possible. If it’s not, we could be entering a new stage of Old West-style of lawlessness when everyone carried a gun and shot anyone they could pick a fight with or stood in their way at the bar.
If not repealed, the Stand Your Ground law will create a new wave of crime, gang wars, racial violence and civil disobedience. It will legally provide any criminal or vigilante the license to kill.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.