Stand Your Ground? Essay

1047 words - 4 pages

There has been much publicity surrounding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin; an unarmed 17-year-old Florida youth shot to death by a neighborhood watch patrolman. On March 19, 2012, The Miami Herald published an editorial that further fueled the flames of racial discrimination and depicted the law enforcement authorities that handled the situation as incompetent. This editorial leads off with, "Law enforcement authorities in the Seminole County community of Sanford have a lot of explaining to do...", follows with, "police Chief Bill Lee vows to follow the evidence, but his department's words and actions up to now only serve to raise more doubts about the investigation" (Miami Herald editorial).
The main problem with this editorial is the racial overtone it elicits. "The victim was black; the shooter is not (Miami Herald editorial)." The tension and the outcries not only in the community, the state, and even national news are becoming more heated daily. All of this does not benefit the pursuit of the truth in this tragic story. Painting this strictly as black versus white, and then suggesting the police department was impartial will only further divide this community and possibly lead to more unrest between the races. There are many unanswered questions, but depicting this solely on an ethnic card does no justice in answering them.
At the center, of the controversy surrounding the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is a Florida law that changed America's definition of self-defense. Florida has a "stand your
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ground" law that allows residents to use deadly force to protect themselves no matter where they are. This event is proof that this law goes too far, but yet in this article it is not mentioned once. The shooter, George Zimmerman is proclaiming self-defense. So far, Zimmerman has not been arrested. This was after hearing testimony from Zimmerman and local residents that overheard the confrontation that led to the shooting. For an arrest to happen, police need probable cause to hold a suspect. Immediately following the shooting they did not have it.
"Stand your ground" legislation was passed in 2005 in Florida. The law allows people to use deadly force away from their homes, when they have reasonable fear an assailant could seriously harm them or someone else. It eliminates the duty to retreat in the face of forthcoming harm. Would-be crime victims have the right to "stand their ground" and "meet force with force" when attacked. They need to be in a place they have a right to be, are not engaged in unlawful activity and believe that their life and safety was in danger (Pearson).
Prior to this law the "Castle doctrine" was in place. The "Castle doctrine" meant you could use deadly force if someone attacked you in your home. "Stand your ground" not only absolved the homeowner of any obligation to retreat, it extended that concept outside the home (Schultz).
Since the law was enacted in...

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