Florida law brings no justice to Martin family

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On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin became the victim of one of the most controversial murders in U.S. history.

The African American teen was on his way to his father’s fiance’s house in Sanford, Florida, when he was shot dead by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Police found that Martin was unarmed and carrying nothing but a bottle of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.  Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense in accordance with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law because he believed Martin looked suspicious since he was wearing a hoodie. Sanford police simply let Zimmerman go, taking his word that he killed Martin in self-defense. Tragedies like this shouldn’t happen in America, and celebrity icons, athletes, government officials and demonstrations by the nation’s people are making that clear.

About three weeks after the shooting, Martin’s family started an online petition asking that Zimmerman be prosecuted for murder. It quickly gained support and now has more than 2.2 million signatures. The incident outraged the public, with many people feeling that Zimmerman’s actions were solely based on race and that what he did had nothing to do with self-defense at all. Since the petition, the incident has garnered international attention from news and media coverage. Five days after the petition was posted, people in several cities in the U.S. protested by wearing hoodies in the “million hoodie march,” since Martin’s hoodie was one of his “suspicious” attributes that grabbed Zimmerman’s attention. Also, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, along with every player on the Miami Heat, posted photos on Twitter of themselves wearing hoodies and Illinois representative Bobby Rush wore a hoodie on the floor of Congress to show their support for Martin’s family.

Whether or not Zimmerman felt threatened by Martin, killing him was beyond uncalled for. However, the fact that Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested can be entirely blamed on Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law. The law states that if a person feels that they can prevent their death or great bodily harm by using deadly force that they are free to do so. This enables citizens to defend themselves in the same way as officers of the law, and its ambiguity allows people to take advantage of it. Even if one thinks this preposterous law holds any ground, how could a 28-year-old man feel threatened by a 17-year-old kid in a hoodie, carrying convenience store snacks? Simply said, this is not something that should have happened, but Stand Your Ground makes it possible for incidents like this to occur.

Tragedies like this shouldn’t happen, but unless this law is changed, they will continue. If this ludicrous law didn’t exist, Zimmerman would not have been able to take matters into his own hands, and Trayvon Martin would have been able to live the rest of the life that he deserved.