After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Repeal Stand Your Ground

Dream Defenders occupy Florida state capitol. Courtesy Pensacola News Journal.

Dream Defenders occupy Florida state capitol. Photo courtesy Pensacola News Journal.

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” – Malcolm X

The trial of George Zimmerman and his slap-in-the-face acquittal have us all reeling, but let’s channel our outrage into productivity for social change.  Trayvon Martin and his family still deserve justice. This is the fourth post in a series that addresses the question on everyone’s mind: “Where do we go from here?”

Stand Your Ground is the policy that allowed Zimmerman’s actions to be vindicated that night in February 2011. According to 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.” (Emphasis is ours.)

How did a policy that was crafted to protect the vulnerable and defenseless become used to justify the killing of a child by a grown man? This is because of the inherent racial injustice of Stand Your Ground. In states with this policy, Whites have a 354% likelihood of being cleared for White-on Black murder.


Since the law’s enactment in 2005, it’s also been linked to increasing murder and manslaughter rates due perhaps to citizens who feel empowered by the law to use fatal force. Even Stand Your Ground’s application seems to hinge on race.  For example, Marissa Alexander, a Black Florida woman who wasn’t allowed to invoke it, knows. She fired warning shots to fend off her abusive husband and, despite not harming a soul, the judge denied her the right to Stand Your Ground.  She was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

What can we do? There’s a lot of activism around Marissa Alexander and her case right now. There are also organizers working around the clock–literally in the case of the Dream Defenders who have occupied the state capital–to get the law repealed.  This August, Progressive Pupil is supporting their efforts by donating 10% of the proceeds from sales of our t-shirts, tote bags and tank tops to their campaign.  You can also help them by checking out their Facebook and Twitter pages and sharing them with your friends and signing this petition to help encourage Congress to take federal action in eradicating Stand Your Ground.

Transform your outrage into constructive collective action and be part of the solution.

by Shannon Shird

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