|Trayvon Martin still relevant|
|Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board|
|Thursday, 29 November 2012 19:28|
Most people know Trayvon Martin’s name, even if they aren’t sure why or where they heard it. His death was headline news all summer and into early fall, and still, news pops up about it from time to time as his killer prepares to go to trial.
For those who aren’t aware, or in order to refresh memories, here is the rundown of what happened: On Feb. 26, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American boy, was walking home through the gated community in Sanford, Fla. where he lived.
George Zimmerman, the appointed neighborhood watch coordinator for the community, noticed him walking between the houses and deemed his activity suspicious, though police later reported that he wasn’t engaged in any illegal activity at the time. Zimmerman called the police and then approached Martin, at which time a confrontation occurred and Zimmerman fatally shot Martin.
Zimmerman has since been charged with second-degree murder, to which he has pled not guilty. He claims that he was operating under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows for citizens to use force as self-defense, without the obligation to retreat first. This implies that Martin was somehow threatening Zimmerman, which Zimmerman backed up by presenting several wounds to his nose and head.
Earlier this week, a similar incident occurred in Jacksonville, Fla. Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old African-American man, was in a car outside of a store with a group of friends when they became involved in an altercation with Michael Dunn, who asked them to turn the music in their car down.
When they refused, the situation escalated to Dunn firing eight rounds into the car, killing Davis. Dunn said that he felt threatened by the group and claimed to have seen a gun that was not discovered at the scene. Dunn is claiming self-defense, as Zimmerman did, on the grounds of the “Stand Your Ground” law.
There have been many reactions from different camps concerning the Trayvon Martin case, and already the Internet and news media are comparing the Davis case to Martin’s.
One of the major questions is whether this was a reaction to the race of the boys in question. Would either Zimmerman or Dunn have felt threatened by these unarmed boys if they weren’t African-American? Would they have felt the need to use guns to fend them off?
And with regard to the use of guns, many have asked whether the “Stand Your Ground” law should even exist. It allows for easily justified murder. All you have to do is say you felt like your life was in danger.
Some people have taken it up from a gun control standpoint. Why was it okay for either Zimmerman or Dunn to be able to approach these young men with firearms with which they could kill them?
All of these questions are legitimate, and the answers to them are important. These cases exhibit serious problems with the way we handle race, violence and fear in this country.
People should be outraged that this happened, whatever the reason. People should be angry at people like Zimmerman and Dunn, and maybe not for any reason except that there are two boys dead who were just 17 years old. And no matter how you look at it, that’s a tragedy.