On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin went out for a packet of Skittles and an iced tea. He never made it home. The killing of Martin, an unarmed teenager, by George Zimmerman became a national flashpoint for racial profiling and controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws which allowed Zimmerman to initially walk away free.
Yesterday, supporters gathered nationwide from Florida to New York, to honor the memory of Trayvon and rally around the cause of justice, while the criminal case is still ongoing. Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin attended a million hoodies vigil for their son in New York’s Union Square. They also attended a million hoodies rally in Union Square a year ago, and this year the focus is on continuing to seek justice for their son as well as additional activism around Stand Your Ground laws, racial profiling, gun violence, and police brutality.
The Martin family along with their attorney Benjamin Crump, and their “Change for Trayvon” committee are pushing for an amendment in Trayvon’s name to the “Stand Your Ground” laws. In remarks Tuesday morning, Fulton reiterated the message on her committee’s website: “Our lives were flipped upside down on February 26, 2012 when our son, Trayvon Martin, was taken from us. If losing our son was not enough, we were forced to live with the fact that his killer was out in the community while hiding behind a law that allows individuals to shoot first and ask questions later. ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws exist in 32 states across our nation, and have allowed people to escape responsibility. Although these laws have good intentions, their result has allowed shooters to avoid justice, and for families to not have an opportunity for closure in these tragic deaths. Stand your ground is a solution in search of a problem, and it’s a terrible solution, with tragic results; like the death of our son. These laws need to be revised to require prosecutorial or judicial review.”
“Death deserves respect,” Tracy Martin says emphatically in an introductory video on their website.
Trayvon Martin’s legacy will in part be the activism sparked in young people, of all races, nationwide over the past year. “The social activism aspect of the Trayvon movement is phenomenal,” Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump told EBONY.com, “What Trayvon did for young people is, he inspired them to stand up. Young people kept this movement going when the people in the mainstream media tried to stop talking about Trayvon. It was one college student who initially started the Change.org petition that got 2.2 million signatures. One person can make a difference.”
“The other thing that stands out about this case is that when thousands of people put on their hoodies all around America and around the world [last year and Tuesday] it was a symbolic expression that it doesn’t matter what you wear on the outside. It’s what is on the inside that matters. When they say, ‘I am Trayvon Martin’ they are saying it could have been me. Any of us could have been prejudged.” says Crump.
The fight over ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in Trayvon’s case as well as in other states across the country is ongoing. The controversial ALEC sponsored law is what allowed George Zimmerman to initially go free simply based on his assertion that he killed an unarmed Trayvon in self defense. “This time last year no one really knew about Stand Your Ground laws and it’s now become part of our national conversation. Trayvon’s legacy will forever be linked with Stand Your Ground and his parents don’t want anyone to experience what they have experienced [with the loss of their son].”
“I’m very optimistic about the Zimmerman case. Sometimes what the devil means for evil, God means for good. The judge is unwilling to delay the trial [as Zimmerman’s defense has requested]. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ The more they delay, the more they are in a better position. We don’t want them to delay the trial.”
April 29th is the big hearing to determine immunity under Stand Your Ground and “if the judge grants the Zimmerman immunity, then the case is over denying Trayvon’s parents their constitutional right to a trial by jury.”
“[If immunity is not granted] the trial date is set for June 10th. There is more than enough evidence to convict George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin. We pray that the world is praying and watching.”