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Justice is Demanded for Unpunished Killing of Florida Black Teen
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Thousands are calling out for justice to be served for the death of teenager Trayvon Martin who was shot on Feb 26 by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watchman, had suspected the black teen of suspicious behavior, he claims, though it is unclear what behavior he is speaking of, and the unarmed Martin, 17, who had only a bag of skittles in his pocket, was shot dead. Zimmerman was not punished for the killing, nor did he even have his unarmed gun license revoked, for when the police department in Florida investigated the incident, they backed Zimmerman’s actions, based on the Stand Your Ground law, which says a person may stand their ground and not flee a dangerous situation.

Martin’s family and neighbors are outraged. They have accused the police investigators of supporting a man who used racial profiling (the shooter’s family identify him as Hispanic, though initial news-coverage identified him as white) in selecting and then murdering an innocent teenager.

Now, after three weeks, a further investigation by Florida’s Seminole County has announced it will convene a grand jury on April 10 to reopen the case.

  
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“The Stand Your Ground law was not intended to authorize vigilante action on the part of neighborhood watch guys when they have suspicions about the motivation of some kid walking through the neighborhood,” said University of Central Florida sociologist, James Wright. “To simply say this case is ambiguous and therefore can’t be prosecuted opens the door for a lot of nefarious” behavior. “This case could help draw the line between what’s right and legally justifiable and what goes beyond that.”

The case was kept alive and made vital by supporters of Martin. Almost 800,000 people have signed a petition seeking Zimmerman’s prosecution. They demand that at least his weapon permit be revoked. Their leader has said that Zimmerman is a “clear threat to public safety.”

Three investigations are responding to the heated demands for redress, including an inquiry by the US Justice Department and the FBI. Protesters are staging a “one million hoodie march,” set for this Wednesday to demonstrate, according to their Facebook page, that “A black person in a hoodie isn’t automatically ‘suspicious.’”

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Disparities in this case include the light treatment of Zimmerman, who had been told by a 911 dispatcher not to follow the 140 lb boy, and the strange fact that the boy was checked for alcohol and drug content in his blood after his death, but Zimmerman was not.

Zimmerman, 28, has been defended by his father as not racist: “George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.” Further investigations will determine if this assessment is correct.





 

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