Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Democracy Now: Walking While Black -- Florida Police Resist Calls to Arrest Shooter of Unarmed Teen, Trayvon Martin

Democracy Now

Walking While Black: Florida Police Resist Calls to Arrest Shooter of Unarmed Teen, Trayvon Martin

The Justice Department and the FBI have announced they will conduct a criminal probe of the killing of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the ensuing police investigation that allowed his killer to walk free. Martin, an African-American student at Michael Krop Senior High School, was visiting his father in a gated community in the town of Sanford, Florida, on February 26 when he walked out to a nearby convenience store to buy candy and iced tea. On his way back, Martin was spotted by the shooter, George Zimmerman, who had been patrolling the neighborhood. Zimmerman has told police he was attacked by Martin from behind. But in the tape of Zimmerman’s own 911 call to the police, Zimmerman tells the dispatcher he is the one following Martin. The Miami Herald reports Zimmerman had taken it upon himself to patrol the neighborhood and had called police 46 times since January 2011 to report suspicious activity or other incidents. We play excerpts of the 911 calls and speak with Jasmine Rand, an attorney who heads the civil rights division at Parks & Crump Law Firm, which is representing Trayvon Martin’s family. "I think we have all of the evidence in the world to arrest him. And I think what the state attorney is trying to do is to try the case and the investigation, and that’s not the state attorney’s job," Rand says.

Florida Legislative Black Caucus Urges Full Federal Probe of Police Handling of Trayvon Martin Death

We speak with Florida Democratic State Representative Mia Jones, who fought the passage of Florida’s so-called "Stand Your Ground" law that authorities say has prevented them from arresting Trayvon Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman, who is claiming he acted in self-defense. Jones is chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, who sent letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and Florida Gov. Rick Scott calling for impartial investigations into the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Martin last month. She says the caucus’s 24 members will work to re-evaluate the gun law.

"A Modern-Day Lynching": Outrage Grows over Killing of Trayvon Martin by Neighborhood Watch Patrol

As details emerge in the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, whose killer has yet to be arrested, community leaders have helped build wider momentum into their calls for justice in the case. We speak with Shelton Marshall, president of the Black Law Students Association at Florida A&M University College of Law, who helped organize a protest on Monday calling for a federal probe into Trayvon Martin’s death and attended a meeting with local prosecutors. "As an African-American male, I felt as though it was my duty to step up," Marshall says. "I have been afforded the privilege of being in a position where I can advocate for those who are not able to advocate for themselves." We also speak with Rev. Glenn Dames, pastor of St. James AME Church in Titusville and former president of the North Brevard NAACP. "I think what we’re doing now is we’re making sure that we, in essence, bring his voice back from the grave," Dames says. "And so, even from the grave now, we have become Trayvon Martin’s voice across the state, across the nation, even internationally."

Florida’s "Shoot First" Law Critiqued by Gun Control Advocates Following Shooting of Trayvon Martin

We speak with Caroline Brewer of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence about how the killing of Trayvon Martin has brought renewed scrutiny to Florida’s controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, also referred to by critics as the "shoot first" law. Backed by the National Rifle Association, the law expands the right of citizens to claim self-defense in the killing of others. More than 20 states have similar measures in place. Brewer says the law allowed Floridians with criminal backgrounds, including many who plead guilty to assault, burglaries and child molestation, to obtain concealed carry licenses. "You’re talking about people who are dangerous, people who are violent. And yet, just within a very short time after the law was passed, Florida had hundreds and hundreds of these people with these licenses to go out and kill somebody else," Brewer says. "And pretty much it was their word against the other person’s."

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