Emotions are still high from the “Not Guilty” verdict that was handed down in the George Zimmerman case.
The NAACP and other civil rights organizations are calling for the United States Department of Justice to open a federal civil rights case against George Zimmerman. I must agree with the many other legal scholars that have years of experience in the field however that this is not likely to happen.
Others have turned their attention to the many “Stand Your ground” laws around the country and seek their repeal. It must be stated that the Florida stand your ground law had absolutely nothing to do with the Zimmerman case, and is being used as a tool to keep emotions high.
This is a faulty strategy for multiple reasons. The first is that, according to data compiled by the Reason foundation, African-Americans benefit just as much as white defendants under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Although they may feel good, and may appease the emotional high surrounding the case, both the avenue of seeking a federal civil rights case and seeking to repeal the many “Stand Your Ground” laws around the country are a waste of energy and destructive to all parties involved.
But there are more effective ways to get justice for Trayvon.
The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a failed war that should be repealed, defunded, and never again looked upon. Outside of the philosophical debate of whether a person has right to their own body and what they do with it, the war on drugs perpetuates stereotyping, hurts families, and has unsustainable cost.
According to Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), 55 percent of inmates serving time in Federal Prison are there for non-violent drug offenses.
Although African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the American population, they account for 67 percent of defendants sentenced for drug offenses.
The United States spends over $350 Billion every year fighting the war on drugs, with little to show for it outside of ruined lives. Most modern day profiling revolves around terrorism and the war on drugs.
Ending the “War on Drugs” would be real justice for Trayvon Martin. The war on drugs is not only a catalyst for the disparity among ethnicity within the criminal justice system, but is also one of the drivers of violent crime that takes place in many of our major cities.
More police and jails will not solve the problem, but MORE FREEDOM WILL.
Minimum Sentencing Guidelines
In the wake of the George Zimmerman case and the debate around Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, the case involving Marissa Alexander rose to national prominence.
Marissa Alexander is a mother who fired a warning shot in the air to scare her abusive husband away during an altercation. Alexander was convicted of Aggravated Assault with a firearm, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The prosecutor in the case, Angela Corey, was the same prosecutor that served in the George Zimmerman case. Now this is more of a case for getting rid of activist prosecutors who care more about their career, than getting the case right and actually fighting crime, but the unintended consequence of minimal sentencing guidelines came into play with this case.
Unless her sentence is overturned, commuted by the Governor, or she receives a pardon or her sentence commuted by the President of the United States, Marissa Alexander will serve 20 year of her in prison for essentially protecting herself and her children.
The reason for this is Florida’s “10-20-life” minimum sentencing law. Almost every state has minimum sentencing laws/guidelines.
These minimum sentences not only take away leeway from the judge in the case to hand out a fair sentence, but also take away the right of others to receive a reasonable sentence that is in line with crime committed. Fighting for the repeal of sentencing minimums would not only be justice for Trayvon, but justice for many people who have been unintentionally hurt by minimum sentencing laws.
End the Militarization of the Local Police
Due to the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” there has been a dramatic increase in the militarization of the local police forces.
In the 1970’s there were maybe a couple hundred or so to well over 50,000 as recorded in 2005. These raids are often used to serve a search warrant or pick up a suspected criminal, but these swat team often blur the lines between police and military.
These raids occur most often in the African-American communities in relation to the “War on Drugs”.
There are instances where these raids occur in places and bring unintended consequences (take note of the 70 year old couple that sustained multiple injuries and had to receive multiple surgeries as a product of one of these raids).
Forcing elected officials and police departments to properly define the scope and use of these teams would bring “Justice for Trayvon” and justice for the millions of families that have had to stare down the barrel of a gun, because of the use of force these teams use to do minor things like serve a warrant.
The Road may not be easy, but it will be worth it
While none of these are easy task, they are all substantive causes that can yield results that would produce more justice within the criminal justice system.
These are goals that will only be attained by forming coalitions from all over the political spectrum. It will take pushing Democrats who control most urban areas, and Republicans who hold many governorships.
As long as race-baiting and overly emotional pleas with no effective endgame are allowed to define what justice is, injustice everywhere will run rampant. If you believe that “Justice For Trayvon” equates to more justice in the Criminal justice system, then I hope to see you on the front lines of these causes.
All of these effect the African-American community than some armed neighborhood watchman.