What the Stand Your Ground Law Really Means?

National outcry can be heard loud and clear from every corner of the country. George Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury of his peers in a Florida courtroom on July 13th on all charges. The jury neither found him guilty of murder, nor manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin. After reading countless online publications, tweets and even texts from my own friends, one question is being asked over and over again. How? How did six Florida women hear the evidence and decide that Zimmerman should roam the streets free. How did they decide that he was justified in the pursuing and subsequent killing of a weaponless teenager?

After reviewing the Florida based “Stand Your Ground” law, you have to believe that their decision was based solely on the letter of the law. Following the law to the T. According to the Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislator, the “Stand Your Ground” law states that a person has the legal right to use deadly force, even if retreating is an option, if said person fears for his or her life or fears great bodily harm.

Under the law the prosecution did not stand a chance (no pun intended).

Zimmerman, alive and well, only had the task of proving that he feared great bodily harm. There are pictures of him from that night with bruises on his head and a broken nose. No doubt that if he was getting his butt kicked in a fight with a teenager he “feared great bodily harm”, most people in fights do. That being all he had to prove under the law the case was open and shut.

He did not have to prove that he made the wrong decision when he decided to follow Martin in his car, or that he was wrong for pursuing Martin on foot after the police dispatcher told him not to. He was not held accountable for confronting Martin on a dark street while he was alone. With Martin dead he did not have to disprove that Martin did not fear great bodily harm himself. Zimmerman’s defense attorneys were responsible for only proving that he felt in danger.

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The outcome of the verdict may have been different if the jurors had decided that the law was unjust or unfair. After all, laws are not always just and moral. It was the law at one point that enslaved Black people, and the law that kept women from voting. Had the jury taken into consideration the flaws of this one law and saw the situation for what it was, they might have weighted the circumstances heavier than the law. They might have decided that a guilty verdict could possibly rectify a heavily flawed part of the Florida judicial system.

Had the jury considered that Martin feared great bodily harm as he walked down a Florida neighborhood street alone at night being followed by a strange white-looking man in a car. A man who eventually gets out of the car to follow him on foot and begins to confront him about his existence in a place where he has every right to be. Had the jury decided that it did not matter who struck who first, the entire incident could have been avoided had Zimmerman simply stayed in his vehicle. He would have never feared an ounce of great bodily harm had he decided to actually watch as a member of neighborhood watch and not to be a vigilante. Had his blood not boiled with the disgusting smell of white supremacy he may not have been so bold to engage Martin that night.

However, none of this was what the case was about. The case was never about whether Zimmerman was right or wrong. It was about whether he had the legal right to kill Martin if he feared bodily harm.

The Florida law says that he did. The law says that he did not have to retreat. The law says that if he was afraid he could kill Trayvon. And he did.

He excelled in his neighborhood watch class and his former teacher testified that Zimmerman was well aware of the Stand Your Ground law. He found confidence in knowing that he could get out his car, follow a Black man, engage him in verbal rhetoric and should he feel threatened at any time he could kill him. Courtesy of the law.

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Contributed by: Taleah Griffin

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