By Alan Bean
The Trayvon Martin case is important because it exposed the flawed, and potentially deadly, reasoning behind Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. It doesn’t matter whether the victim was, or wasn’t, a marijuana user or whether the Zimmerman’s lied about their finances at a bail hearing. None of that has any bearing on the tragic elements of this case. In the end, it doesn’t even matter whether or not Trayvon Martin lashed out at the stranger who stalked and harassed him.
The story is important because a really awful state statute made George Zimmerman think he could pursue and confront an unarmed private citizen and shoot him dead if he decided to defend himself.
In other words, this isn’t just about Trayvon, and it isn’t just about Florida–twenty-four states have passed some version of Stand Your Ground legislation. You haven’t heard most of the horror stories because they haven’t been in the news. You wouldn’t have heard about Trayvon Martin either if he didn’t have unusually determined parents.
Thanks to Pro Publica for understanding why the Trayvon Martin case is important and investigating the nationwide consequences of Stand Your Ground legislation.
by Suevon Lee
ProPublica, June 8, 2012
The Stand Your Ground law is most widely associated with the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.
But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law’s reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances since 2005 where the state’s Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors’ decisions, jury acquittals or a judge’s call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn’t die.) (more…)