Just saw a Daily Show bit on the Zimmerman verdict. It failed for the simple fact that it tried to allege a connection between the black woman who could not use the Stand Your Ground law and got 20 years for merely shooting a gun in the air and Zimmerman, who allegedly got off using the same Stand Your Ground defense.
The problem is that Zimmerman’s defense did not use Stand Your Ground. They used self-defense.
The Florida Statute on Stand Your Ground is this:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. 776.013(3).
With this spelled out – after watching the Daily Show bit – I wondered this: If Trayvon Martin, in fact, killed Zimmerman in his altercation with Zimmerman, what charges do you think would have been filed against him?
Trayvon’s situation seems to fit well with “stand your ground.” 1) Trayvon met a duty of retreat (a requirement that one must move away if able to do so) because while talking with Rachel on the phone, she testified that he noticed someone following him, but continued to retreat; 2) Trayvon would certainly be justified of meeting force with force, in my humble opinion, being as he was armed with a bag of skittles, and Zimmerman would be found with a gun.
I like to think that Stand Your Ground would have worked just fine for Trayvon. I like to think that charges would never be filed against Trayvon in such a situation. Sadly, I think I’m being terribly optimistic.
Let’s face it. This point that the Daily Show bit, above, accurately makes is this: “According to current Florida law, you can get a gun, follow an unarmed minor, call the police, have them explicitly tell you to stop following him, then choose to ignore that, keep following the minor, get into a confrontation with him, and then if at any point during that process you get scared, you can shoot the minor to death, and the State of Florida will say: ‘well, you did what you could.'”
As much as I want to say that race played no part in the decision, I am having a tough time imagining that if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was white, that there would be any question of guilt. It’s almost as if there is an inherent, unsaid understanding in our society that a young black kid with a hoodie is reasonably suspicious.
The fact is, by all appearances, Trayvon stood his ground in this case, and he received the ultimate punishment for it when all he was doing was walking back to watch the NBA AllStar Game after buying some skittles and a soft drink. I would say, also, that Trayvon’s standing his ground was very reasonable considering the inherent differences in danger between a handgun and a bag of skittles.
What do you think?