‘Stand Your Ground’ laws not to blame, real problem is racism




With the Trayvon Martin case and all the controversy around Florida’s Stand Your Ground law there has been much confusion and misunderstanding of the law, especially in the Black community.

First of all neither the defense nor the prosecution used this law in the George Zimmerman trial. However, most experts say that the judge used part of it when giving direction to the jurors, stating that Zimmerman didn’t have to retreat if attacked. I’m still trying to understand this. Why would Zimmerman have to retreat when he was the aggressor? He was following and harassing Martin, not the other way around.

Here’s what probably happened. Trayvon after leaving the store with his junk food for the game was going home. Zimmerman followed him in his car and then got out to confront Martin. There were words, and Martin being the typical young male probably told Zimmerman either you leave me alone or I’m going to kick your a…and preceded on his way. Zimmerman knowing he had a gun continued to follow on foot? Martin then turned on him and did what any of us would have done. He confronted the man and a fight broke out. As Martin was kicking his butt, Zimmerman pulled his gun and shot him dead.

Stand Your Ground law.

There are about 30 states that have these so-called Self Defense laws, with Pennsylvania having one of the strongest in the country having passed the Castle Doctrine legislation in 2011. The House vote was 164-37, and the Senate vote was 43-4. So it was a bi-partisan vote.

What it basically says is that you have the right to defend your home, business, car, family and self with deadly force if necessary. It also prevents civil suits. “Law-abiding gun owners should not have to fear prosecution for acting to prevent a violent crime,” said Pa. Sen. Rich Alloway after the Pa. law was passed.

Having lived in an urban Black community most of my life and all my adult life I understand. Everybody has a gun except the hard working citizens living in the community.

Once again, what’s wrong with this law? Nothing. How many Black residents have been attacked or threatened by thugs in their own community, house or business?

For example I read an article a few years back about a Pittsburgh man who was minding his own business. Some people left a bar nearby, and somehow a woman they were with or met disappeared, probably trying to get away from them. They thought she went into the house. After banging on this man’s’ door and forcing themselves in, the man gunned them down. Well this man went to trial and jail. I was totally shocked. These kinds of incidents are what led to the Stand Your Ground law being strengthened in 2011. And I agree it should have been.

Think about the Black people living in what some call a war zone in cities like East St. Louis, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, parts of Los Angeles and New York City and the list goes on; shouldn’t they have the right to defend themselves?

Many White liberals and Black activists living out in the cozy suburbs are trying to get these laws repealed which would mean that only the hoodlums and thugs would have the guns. I don’t think so. Gun control yes, but not taking guns out of the hands of responsible citizens.

Why didn’t Martin have the right to Stand His Ground? Why did a White man with a gun have the right to stalk this young man, harass him and eventually shoot him? Zimmerman was not defending his home or anything else. Martin was not trying to steal his car. He was not a threat to his family. This was a gated community in which Zimmerman lived, but nowhere close to where the confrontation occurred. But what most people are not talking about is that at the time Martin was also living in this community with his father, who was staying with his assumed White girlfriend. So the law should have protected Martin as well.

So why would the judge give a one sided statement to the jury? Why was it that Zimmerman had the right to Stand His Ground but Martin didn’t?
The Stand Your Ground laws are not the problem. It’s the criminal court system and people as a whole enforcing it. What difference does it make about the background of either person? They tried to demonize Martin.  Are we saying that it’s OK to gun down known criminals even when they aren’t breaking the law?

They don’t have the right to shop or walk the streets? That guy is a criminal let’s shoot him down like a mad dog.

Why is it that southern Whites still won’t convict a White man for killing a Black person? And we can’t blame it on the White man this time. It was six White women and a White female judge.

Remember, there were no Blacks on the Jury, despite a 30 percent population in the city.

What they are saying is that Black life is unimportant. And yes he could have been any one of our kids. Especially those of us who think we have made it because we have moved out into the White suburbs. Our kids are still Black even those of us who fill out applications as bi-racial.
Have racial relations really changed?

So let’s not blame it on the Stand Your Ground laws. Lets’ blame it on what really caused this. Racism. Not only by Zimmerman, but by the criminal court system and the seven women who allowed a White man with a gun to go free after killing an unarmed Black person who was not threatening him, his home or family. That’s the problem.

(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier. He can be reached at ucarter@newpittsburghcourier.com



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