Stand your ground for human rightsBy Matthew Ahasay • March 29, 2012 • Category: Opinions
The Feb. 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has left the U.S. government and the state of Florida with a difficult decision and a sticky situation. When the unarmed Martin was gunned down in ‘self defense’ by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, no charges were filed and no arrests made. The self-appointed night guard of the unregistered Neighborhood Watch disobeyed the advice of an emergency worker, which led to the death of Martin.
When the story broke on major news outlets, outraged citizens began calling for Zimmerman’s immediate arrest. The popular notion is that Zimmerman is not being charged because of Martin’s race. The problem, though, is much deeper than the state of racism in America. While racial profiling certainly played an integral role in the shooting, the real problem, are the laws that prevented an arrest from being made, and the lack of proper action taken by law officials.
During the 911 call that was made before the altercation, there was no basis for charging Zimmerman with a hate crime. The call, which was made in Zimmerman’s car, Zimmerman said, “ This guy (Martin) looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. These a**holes always get away,” and then said he was going to follow Martin.
Zimmerman said he was going to confront Martin because he looked suspicious and not explicitly because he was black. A hate crime therefore is not applicable since it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
While the obvious crime is the murder, the real crime is how the police and law officials have handled the situation. Zimmerman was initially questioned by a narcotics detective, not a homocide detective. This first round of questioning before Zimmerman gave a statement may have prepared him for his statement later. The police were overheard correcting an eyewitness when she said that Zimmerman was on top of Martin and not the other way around, as Zimmerman’s story states. Other sources state that they heard Martin’s voice calling for help and not Zimmerman’s, which directly contradicts Zimmerman’s statement.
The outcry of 1.5 million petitioners has been substantial, but so far unsuccessful in getting Zimmerman arrested despite Chris Serino, the lead homicide detective on the case. He recommended Zimmerman be arrested for manslaughter. The prevailing force behind Zimmerman being free is Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ statute, which complicates cases of this nature by requiring more evidence for prosecution.
Like it or not we all have racial microaggresions that permeate into real actions that can range from a common practice of being more cautious around a certain race all the way to the rare and despicable act of a hate crime. This case clearly is bigger than how one feels about race. It is about a flawed legal system and the family of a slaughtered human being denied the basic rights of due process. In order to combat this flagrant violation of human rights we must band together and make sure our voice is heard.