Numb. Heartbroken. Infuriated. Helpless. Sick. These emotions and so many more overwhelmed me in the hours following George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Only hours before, I inadvertently saw the Gawker photo of Trayvon Martin’s lifeless body lying on the grass on Facebook. Young, lanky and beautifully brown, he could’ve been my brother, my cousin, my future son. He could’ve been me. And the jury’s verdict told the world that his life, our lives, have no value in the eyes of the law.
Trayvon should be a year older now, having lived to see his beloved Miami Heat win a championship and move forward with the college applications he was in the process of sending. Instead, his mother must grapple with the pain of losing her youngest son and see him vilified, painted as a monster and denied justice even in death. It’s easy to be infuriated, numb and heartbroken. But it can’t stop there. Something must be done.
This morning, I woke up eager to take action. Here are just a few ways we can stand up for Trayvon:
The civil rights organization posted a petition on their site calling on the Justice Department to prosecute Zimmerman for civil rights violations. It reads: “The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life – was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation. Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today.” Sign here.
2. Contact local government officials to call for the removal of “Stand Your Ground” laws in every state.
The stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first. The “Stand Your Ground” law disproportionately give whites more favorable opportunities to kill blacks as whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings than blacks. In regard to the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s killing, the police initially did not charge Zimmerman with a crime, citing Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.
It’s easy to skip out on elections until you realize just how important they are in deciding the fate of our country and impacting our day-to-day lives. Be informed about local elections and get out and make your voice heard. It was local politicians that put the “stand your ground” law into effect.
4. Serve on jury duty.
Most people go to great lengths to get out of jury duty, but the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial proves that more than ever, we need a presence on that jury pool. As annoying as jury duty may be, it provides us with the opportunity to stand up for justice and make a difference in racially-biased cases.
5. Support the Trayvon Martin Foundation.
Created by Trayvon’s parents, the Trayvon Martin Foundation was borne to uplift families hurt by violent crimes and spread awareness on the impact such crimes have on the mourning family. It also teaches young people how to solve issues without resorting to violence. You can help further their mission by donating $10 by texting TMF to 50555, donating any amount here and shopping at the online store.
Reader Liddy commented yesterday: “Might I also suggest, finding out who top donators were Zimmerman’s defense and isolating them/ boycotting them if they are celebrities or CEO’s of big corporations.” Hitting these figures in their pockets will certainly make a difference.