The Florida "Stand Your Ground Law," provides immunity from arrest unless police have probable cause to believe self-defense does not apply. In this provision, police are asked to act as law enforcement, judge and jury. This law takes away the checks and balances system we need in place for due process and justice to prevail. Due process in the Trayvon Martin case would have required some uniform guidelines in place for the police officers to determine whether self defense existed or not. The police attained a statement from George Zimmerman, but failed to collect any evidence to corroborate his story. Because of this we will never know whether Zimmerman was bleeding or if a scuffle really happened as alleged. The police did not check Zimmerman for drug or alcohol use, but did check the body of Trayvon Martin for the same; Due process is a fundamental element of the American jurisprudential ideology and a philosophical underpinning that required both Zimmerman and Martin to be tested.
The Florida legislature should call a special session immediately to address and fix this law before 'Stand Your Ground ' authorizes another act of unjustified self-defense. Any time we pass a law that lends itself to gross injustice, we have legalized lawlessness. Today, as the Trayvon Martin situation unfolds before us, our Legislative leadership has to address the results of this law in front of the nation and now the world. Let us hope they can stay focused on the results of the law, because therein lies the issue: An innocent child was killed, and the killer has not been arrested!
People say this case is about a bad law, not about race. I don't think the problems with the law have anything to do with race. Conversely, I do think the killing of Trayvon Martin is all about race; racial profiling. It's also about George Zimmerman not being black. If Zimmerman were black he would have been arrested by now and required to prove self defense. This belief is supported by a similar case that occurred in 2010 and less than 100 miles away from where Trayvon was killed. In that case, Trevor Dooley, a black man, killed a white man and claimed self defense based on the Stand Your Ground law. Mr. Dooley was eventually arrested and put on trial for Manslaughter. While his fate is currently pending, Mr. Dooley clearly was not afforded the same confidence in his statement of self defense as was Mr. Zimmerman. Both the failure to arrest Zimmerman and the killing of Trayvon are all about race. If Trayvon were white, I believe he would be alive today. Like Mr. Dooley, George Zimmerman should be arrested and tried in a court of law.
The tragedy laden in the Trayvon Martin case has brought universal pain to our human family. What we have uncovered is the idea that people process individuals of color in a negative light and that fact can result in death. As black men, we carry the burden of other people's suspicions as they relate to stereotypes of us. Because of this, we change the dialect and tone of our voices, we smile excessively, we dress conservatively and do many other things to appear approachable and trustworthy. It should not just be our responsibility to not appear intimidating or, as Geraldo naively stated, "to not put our kids in hoodies." This is America and even with a hood on, Trayvon should have been given the benefit of doubt and the opportunity to eat his skittles and drink his tea. At the very least, he should have been afforded the opportunity to be pursued and questioned by real law enforcement, trained to adequately evaluate the situation.
I write this from the perspective of an American who understands that our country has much to fix, yet so much to be proud of. It would be untrue for me to suggest that all racism and prejudice that once plagued our society is dead, but we can appreciate and rally around the fact that so much has changed on the race relation front. America is a tremendous nation. We are a people naturally emboldened as a Nation because we have all stood with the world against great threats and we have overcome and triumphed together. While to date the Trayvon Martin case has challenged us as a country, we must reflect on our modem day manifest destiny; the belief that all men are created equal! We must make the tough evaluations and challenge our own images and thoughts of hoodies and hoods, ex-criminals and color. I know we are willing and we want change and always JUSTICE for all, including Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman, using his phraseology, did not let this one get away and justice should not let him get away.