Justice For Trayvon: President Calls For ‘National Soul Searching’
It’s not the first time our national albatross, racism, has collided with the mighty lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, but the Trayvon Martin tragedy has sparked an outrage, so loud and so visceral, it has re-opened wounds and re-ignited debates that simply cannot be quashed.
In a brief presser Friday (to announce the changing of the guard at the World bank), President Obama fielded one question about the Martin case. His response was measured and thoughtful. He called on all of us to do some “soul searching.” But it was his pointed and rather poignant acknowledgement, “if I had a son he would look like Trayvon,” that brings it home for so many. Black parents, especially those of teenage boys and young men, are angered and, frankly, petrified for their sons’ safety.
Just imagine what that feels like. For both the parents and the children.
Trayvon’s mother talked openly and bravely about her anguish on “Politics Nation” with Al Sharpton on MSNBC earlier this week. And Jonathan Capehart, a columnist for The Washington Post, talked first hand about the anxieties young African American males grapple with on a daily basis. Watch the excerpts from Thursday’s “Morning Joe.”
The soul searching needs to start in Sanford, Florida. Police Chief Bill Lee’s “temporary” leave of absence needs to become a resignation or termination. George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch commando needs to, at the very least, surrender his gun before the Grand Jury convenes in April. Remember: when police officers are involved in a shooting, even one deemed a “righteous shoot,” they must surrender their weapons and go on desk duty.
Florida Governor Mike Scott has, after extensive pressure, finally, announced a task force to examine the case, and as we reported earlier in the week, the Department of Justice has already launched its own independent investigation.A local Grand Jury won’t meet until April 10. In the meantime, Zimmerman remains free. And, as far as we know, that means he’s still free to carry that same gun he used to kill Trayvon.
Meanwhile, Florida’s Senate President Mike Haridopolos rejected calls to re-examine the controversial Stand Your Ground law that emboldened Zimmerman to gun down Martin, and has, so far, kept him out of jail.
In an e-mail to Think Progress a spokesperson wrote:
“The Senate President feels that Governor Scott is currently taking all of the appropriate steps to address the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin. Additionally, the Senate President is confident that the circumstances surrounding this shooting will be closely examined by lawmakers, and if the Senate concludes that laws need to be revised they will be addressed in the future.”
The future is now, Senator. Since Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law took effect in 2005 the cases of justifiable homicide have jumped from an average of 13 a year to 36. Senator Chris Brown, a Democrat from Broward County, is penning a law that would prevent a shooter from invoking the controversial statute if he/she was at anytime during the altercation, the “aggressor or provocateur.”
Let our soul searching begin.
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