"Not guilty" was the metaphoric shot heard round the world this past week putting an end to the month long procedures following the death of a 17 year old boy from Florida. The accused man, George Zimmerman, fatally shot Trayvon Martin while he walked home from the store; after he suspected the young man of suspicious activity.
Zimmerman was protected by Florida's stand-your-ground law, which states that citizens are allowed to "prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." The law permits the use of deadly force if a person feels they will be harmed or seriously injured. Although Martin was unarmed and only minutes from his home, the jury did not feel Zimmerman's actions were unwarranted, and the prosecution failed to prove otherwise.
Following the acquittal, law enforcement was put on guard for rioting civilians in an uproar over the verdict. Despite the heavy emotions that spawn from this tragedy, violence and unrest will not insight justice. Instead we must have a willingness to learn from what has transpired over the course of this trial. It has become evident that the death of this unarmed young man could not stand up in court, but it should inspire change.
Some media outlets have brought attention to the racial divide surrounding this trial. Martin a young black man was shot by Zimmerman, a 28 year old mixed race Hispanic, after Zimmerman profiled him as a threat to his community. Although race wasn't brought up as a part of the trial, many believe it played a huge role in Zimmerman's actions. As much as this might be true, it is quite stunning to see how little black-on-black violence stirs pro-activity within the black community.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 50% of murder victims in America are black, and 93% of blacks are killed by other blacks. These statistics are astounding, but how can this be remedied? By realizing that we are equals in the unified fight against injustice and this cause transcends race and religion. Although the community effort solution may sound overused it is integral in the resolution to black-on-black violence. As the black community unifies in Martin's death, we must also unify to cease violence against one another. To those on the side of the defense, it seems as though Martin's death is only alarming because Zimmerman is of mixed race. Standing for non-violence no matter color or creed is the only way to truly achieve justice, which means that justice starts with each and every one of us. Harming each other does nothing to strengthen the argument that a black life has worth in this country. The community must set an example by practicing self-love, unity and most of all tolerance.
R.I.P Trayvon Martin