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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why the Florida Law in Trayvon Martin's murder is not the Problem.


It's hard not to get angry about the homicide of Trayvon Martin.  After all, some stupid guy shot a kid and seems to have gotten away with it for now.  But one thing to note about the Florida gun happy law is that it is not the problem.  The problem is that the police department simply misinterpreted the law. 

Here's the Florida law:


"A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." Florida Penal Code 776.013

First, it is clear that George Zimmerman is stupid and crazy.  No question.  But was he "not engaged in an unlawful activity?"  No!  Imagine Trayvon Martin as a blonde teenage girl.  And some 28 year old guy starts following her with an armed gun and approaches her.  If she ended up dead, would the Officer have arrested Zimmerman?  Absolutely.  So what makes Trayvon different?  He's a black kid.  And for the Officer to not suspect something from the end result of Trayvon's death is more revealing of the Officer's prejudices than what actually happened.  

Second, the Florida law clearly states that Zimmerman, "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death..."  Here too, the Officer's misinterpretation of the law illustrates his incompetence.  The operative word is "reasonable".  That means that the conduct covered by the deadly result must have not been unreasonable.  

For example, Zimmerman couldn't have shot Tryvon because he believes all black people with hoodies are bad or up to no good.  This would be unreasonable, thereby eliminating the protection of the Florida Statute.  But that's exactly what happened.  Rather than conduct a thorough investigation, the Police Department simply accepted Zimmerman's account of what happened and didn't second guess how "unreasonable" Zimmerman's account was.  

Again, this is not a failing of the gun crazy Florida law.  It's the fault of a Police Department that lacks the common sense needed to interpret the law and the backbone to contradict the initial investigation by the reporting Police Officer.  

So why hasn't Zimmerman been arrested yet?  Because everybody wants to save face.  The Officer, the Police Department, the Mayor.  

Black kids be damned.   

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