Trayvon Martin march and rally highlights education
By Derek Joy
The Trayvon Martin Foundation (TMF) hosted a march and rally in Miami Gardens three days after what would have been Martin’s 19th birthday and nearly two years after he was senselessly shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla.
Several hundred participants gathered at Carol City Park for the one mile march to the Betty T. Ferguson Complex. The event came off at a time when Zimmerman made a failed attempt to profit as a participant in a celebrity boxing match.
There was more to the March and rally than the memory of Martin. It was a part of the continuing focus on the need to change Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) law.
That is the message de-livered by Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. The message was further driven home by actor/singer Jamie Foxx, media personality Michael Baisden and others who spoke and performed on this day.
“We’re trying to bring the community together, trying to educate people on the laws,” said Tracy Martin. “There are significant long term benefits from this event.
“The Foundation has mentoring programs, helping students in schools to avoid violence. We’re working with other families who lost someone to violence, trying to help them get through it.”
Obviously, the grieving process is difficult, to say the least. Even more so when the killer is allowed to go free under a self defense pretense made possible by the subjective application of the SYG law.
Zimmerman, who masqueraded as a neighborhood watch volunteer where there was no legally constituted neighborhood crime watch organization, was acquitted of second degree murder charges last July.
He notified police of a suspicious character, ignored their advice not to pursue Trayvon Martin, while saying, “They always get away.” Zimmerman then confronted Trayvon, fought with, then shot and killed him.
“I think this kind of event helps people to remember how the law is applied,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III. “Something that’s subjective shouldn’t be a part of the law.”
“This reminds people that there are bad people and bad situations exist,” added Gilbert, who noted a different set of circumstances in the Zimmerman trial and that of Marissa Alexander.
Alexander was denied a self defense claim under the SYG law when she fired a warning shot in the ceiling of her home in Jacksonville. An active restraining order was in place against her estranged husband, who was allegedly threatening her.
She walked to her car, got a firearm, returned and fired a warning shot in the ceiling, reportedly in the presence of children. Alexander was sentenced to 20 years and subsequently won a new trial.
No one was killed or injured in that case. Trayvon was killed by Zimmerman, who initiated the confrontation against the advice of a Sanford Police Department 911 Dispatcher.
“I’m here to support the Mar-tin family,” said Broward County Mayor Barabar Sharief. “I know how that affects a family. My father was killed by gun violence when I was 14.”
Tracy Martin said, “Looking through my eyes, there is a big difference in the two cases; she shot in the ceiling, my son was shot in the heart.
“There are too many glitches in the law. You have a right to self defense… In my son’s case, self defense didn’t apply.”