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Have we forgotten Trayvon Martin?

caines | 12/6/2012, 6 a.m.

There are several young Black men whose names and stories have become symbols of racial injustice in the U.S.; Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and here in Florida on Feb. 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Martin was confronted by neighborhood watch zealot George Zimmerman, who first approached the teen who was returning from a store nearby. Zimmerman phoned police and said the youth looked suspicious. Despite being told to back off and allow the police to intervene, Zimmerman pursed Martin, forcing some kind of altercation. The result was the shooting and death of Martin, an unarmed boy just miles from home. As Martin s parents continue to lead a national movement aimed at the repeal of current stand your ground laws, there are some 32 states with some form of Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground law. Three other states are considering stand your ground laws of their own. These laws are often criticized and referred to as shoot first laws. In Florida, the law has resulted in self-defense claims tripling. Critics say the law makes it very difficult to prosecute cases against those who shoot others and then claim self-defense. Even before it was passed in Florida, then-Miami Chief of Police John F. Timoney said the law was unnecessary, adding that it encouraged people to possibly use deadly physical force when it shouldnt be used. Legal experts continue to be split on whether George Zimmermans actions will be viewed as self-defense or whether charges should be dismissed altogether, given the current law. Meanwhile, Zimmerman continues to stay in the news, first selling his autograph to allegedly raise funds for his defense. Most recently, his defense team released a photograph of Zimmerman with a bloody, swollen nose taken on the night he shot and killed Martin. The attorney representing the family of Martin, Ben Crump, says the photo adds nothing new to the case as similar photos have already been entered as evidence. Trayvon Martin was defending himself and had every right to stand his ground to defend himself, Crump said. Stafford says we havent and cannot forget Martin. When I heard about the death of Jordan Davis, the first thing that reporters did was to draw an analogy between that shooting and the murder of Trayvon Martin, she said. We are not going to allow people to forget about him [Martin] and we are not going to allow him to have died in vain. Its causing law makers to take a real look at this law. Dennis Baxley is now the chairman of the judiciary committee [appointed by the new speaker of the house] which is more than likely the last stop before the bill goes to the house floor if it gets that far. But then it may not even get a hearing. The irony is that Baxley was the sponsor of the original stand your ground law. Zimmermans trial has been scheduled for June 2013. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com