While Zimmerman claimed he shot Trayvon in self-defense, Crump said that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was included in the jury instructions, and played a role in his acquittal.
“When we talk about Stand Your Ground laws, we’re talking about what they really are,” Crump said. “They’re shoot first laws, make my day laws, they encourage people to take the law into their own hands.
“As Trayvon’s parents have said, over and over again, our children have the right to walk in peace.”
Already, Crump said, a petition by Change.org has collected more than 2 million signatures. The Dream Defenders, a group of young activists consumed with making change and not jokes, staged a sit-in at the Capitol for 31 days. They left with a promise from House Speaker Will Weatherford to hold a hearing on the law this fall.
They also plan to be back to register voters.
It’s heartening that so many young people felt so strongly about the unjust law that helped Zimmerman get away with slaying Trayvon that they made life uncomfortable at the Capitol for a month.
But what’s less heartening is that rather than deal with the issues that disproportionately fuels much of the violence among black youths, lawmakers would rather use their suffering as a justification for laws like Stand Your Ground; laws which essentially make it easy for people like Zimmerman to get away with killing kids like Trayvon because society has bought into the stereotype of the scary and violent black male.
So I hope that this year, on the anniversary of the march that changed the nation, more young black people will follow the lead of people like Lewis and the Dream Defenders, and channel their discouragement into activism. I hope that when they march, they understand the new racism that is working against them through these new laws, and pledge to dismantle it.
Or, at the very least, not give it any help.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or like her at www.facebook.com/tonyaajweathersbee.