The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Trayvon Martin had a right to stand his ground as well

It is chilling to listen to the 911 calls that were dialed a few moments before Trayvon Martin’s life was taken away. The screams for help could be heard through the gated community, yet nothing was done. According to the Orlando Sentinel, authorities leaked that witnesses are in dispute about who the screams belonged to.

It is clear to over two million supporters that those screams belonged to Martin, a 17-year-old black male calling out to someone, anyone for help. And instead of help, all he got was a bullet in his chest and injustice for his untimely death.

Jibade Hudson, 9, center, wears a sign next to his mother Ann Jones, right, at a civil rights protest, Wednesday, March 21, 2012, to demand the revoking of George Zimmerman's gun permit after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Courtesy of MCT

Wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying a bag of skittles and an iced tea in his hands, Martin did not expect to be followed home on his way back from 7-Eleven. He did not expect George Zimmerman, the captain of an unregistered neighborhood organization, to exit his Chevrolet Suburban and stalk Martin through their gated community. He did not expect for Zimmerman to accuse him of being suspicious and therefore not belonging to the community. Most important, Martin did not expect to die that dark night.

We cannot ignore the probability that Zimmerman also did not expect to kill Martin that night, and if found to be true, we cannot ignore new evidence showing that Martin caused damage to Zimmerman. According to the Orlando Sentinel, authorities said that Zimmerman was found “bleeding from the nose, had a swollen lip and had bloody lacerations to the back of his head.” Zimmerman admits to following Martin in his vehicle to look for the boy, but said that upon walking back to his car, Martin confronted him. According to the shooter, Martin took him down with a single punch, slammed his head into the sidewalk, punched him repeatedly in the face and reached for his gun; the shooter said he did it in self-defense.

Whether or not his account is true, it is still an incriminating defense. The circumstances surrounding Martin’s death did not develop out of an act of self-defense, but began unjustly and racially motivated.

There are two 911 calls out of the several made by neighbors, which present plenty of evidence. In Zimmerman’s call to Sanford police, he described Martin as a suspicious character in his neighborhood. The police told him not to pursue the suspect. Zimmerman did anyway. Another call placed by a neighbor living in the gated community recorded screams for help, silenced by a single gunshot.

The one-minute gap between Zimmerman’s call and the gunshot can be filled out by testimony from an anonymous teenage girl identified as Martin’s girlfriend. She told ABC News that Martin put up his hoodie because he was being followed. She said she heard Martin ask Zimmerman why he was following him, then heard the man push him down, ending the call. She called again, but Martin never answered.

According to the Associated Press, Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, defended Zimmerman’s actions and dismissed racism as a reason for the shooting. Sonner said that people would soon see that his client used Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law accordingly.

News sources have been reporting that the “Stand Your Ground” law may be the biggest challenge in getting Zimmerman arrested. If Martin did indeed reach for his gun, Zimmerman had the leeway to shoot first under this law.

However, even if racism did not cause Zimmerman to shoot the boy, it can still be proved as a factor which instigated the whole situation. If Zimmerman did not wrongly find Martin to be suspicious and did not follow the boy in the first place, maybe he would not have had to “stand his ground.”

Chapter 776 of the 2011 Florida Statutes, states that “using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another” is only justified if a person is “presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”

This means a person has the “right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force” against a “person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle” and “is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.”

Zimmerman had no logical reason to believe that Martin had an “intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence” against him, when he started to stalk the teenager from his vehicle. Zimmerman had no rightful “ground” to “stand,” since he does not own the entire gated community. Martin had no deadly weapon to hurt Zimmerman with except for a bag of skittles and a cold drink.

Truly, Zimmerman created a situation where Martin to have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm.” Martin had the right to react to violence with violence to defend himself.

Whom we should be most concerned with practicing racism are the officers who arrived on the crime scene. When Sanford police arrived, they did not follow proper procedure. In a speech at a rally in Sanford on Monday, Ben Crump, the attorney for Martin’s parents, pointed out that police did not do a background check on Zimmerman, but did one on the dead boy. He asked why officers gave Martin a drug and alcohol test, but did not test Zimmerman.

It seems there was no thorough investigation into Zimmerman’s story of defense, but generous acceptance. Martin’s body sat in the morgue for three days as ABC reported, labeled “John Doe,” even when the Stanford police department had Martin’s cellphone in their possession. According to Time Magazine, Martin’s father had to file a missing-person report in order to find his dead son.

The officers placed no importance on this minor’s life, instead, they sought to defend a man more than ten years older than him.

In the past week, several demonstrations calling for justice for Martin took place all over the country. Martin‘s case has sparked a national outcry because unfortunately, the circumstances of his death are all too common. Millions of young black men have become a target for the system. The prison industrial complex houses more black men in prison than men of any other race. According to The Root, an online Black news source, Blacks compose nearly 13 percent of the population yet 40 percent of the prisoners. The article explains that the number of black men in prison exceed the number of men that were enslaved in 1850. Take a closer look, and it appears that the prison industrial complex is a reflection of a dehumanizing system the nation would like to believe disappeared long ago.

Rev. Jesse Jackson compared Martin’s death to the killing of Emmitt Till, a 14 year old that was beaten to death in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. His killers were never brought to justice, and his killing sparked civil rights movements, just as Martin’s death has brought very similar calls for justice.

On Friday, Obama made a statement regarding the death of Martin.

“If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” Obama said.

This statement has caused major controversy from his right wing opponents who feel that this issue is not based on race. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House during the Clinton administration and a GOP presidential candidate, said Obama’s words were “disgraceful.” Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin wrote on her blog that Obama is, “all too willing to pour gas on fire.” However, the “gas” Obama poured is fueling a fire that is seeking justice for an issue that lacks proper attention.

To the right wing conservatives that bash Obama for standing in allegiance with the black community, we question Zimmerman’s twistedd perception of an unarmed young man carrying candy and a drink; why did Martin appear suspicious that night?

Martin’s tragedy echoes the stories of many young black males whose lives have been taken away by racist police, the racist prison industrial complex and racist citizens, since slavery ended. But fortunately for Martin’s family, the public is outraged and journalists will not relent in their search for the truth.

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