Two Years After Trayvon's Death, Miamians March and Mourn Prospects for Reform

Categories: Education, News

photo by Christian Beltz
A crowd of twenty-somethings congregated in front of the Miami-Dade Courthouse last night adorned in black hoodies and somber faces. Wednesday marked the second anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, the local teen whose shooting by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman sent shockwaves across the nation. And as Florida's Stand Your Ground law keeps the state in the news this week for all the wrong reasons, the crowd mourned both Martin and the prospects for reform.

"This event serves as a reminder, a reminder to never forget," said Gerald Jean-Baptiste, a Miami native and English as a Second Language Instructor at Miami Edison Senior High School. "I am Trayvon Martin, our students are Trayvon Martin and it's important that we have conversations like this with them."

As the group made a symbolic march from the courthouse steps to the Torch of Friendship at Bayfront Park, they were met with a mix encouragement and disdain from onlookers in the downtown area. Some joined in the protest chants others heckled and cursed out marchers.

It's clear that even after two years, the Martin case still opens deep divides among South Florida residents.

Other Stand Your Ground controversies have only added fuel to the fire. A week ago, a Jacksonville jury was unable to conclude if Michael Dunn, was guilty of murdering Jordan Davis, an African-American teenager at a gas station back in 2012.

Although Dunn, 47, was convicted on lesser chargers of attempted second-degree murder, he was able to beat his most severe accusation under the Stand Your Ground law.

Later that same week, a judge in Sanford, Florida -- the same town where Trayvon was killed -- was forced to return guns to a blind man who walked free under Stand Your Ground after killing his friend in a drunken house fight.

"There's a lot of grey area when it comes to the 'Stand-Your-Ground' law," said Andrew Hecht, a civics teacher at North Miami Middle School who marched last night. "It gives a too much justification for the use of deadly force, it practically absolves them of any responsibility."

Yet reform still seems unlikely in the Republican-dominated state legislature. One bill to revisit the law has already been killed in the House before the session even starts. Martin's parents plan to join Davis' parents and Rev. Al Sharpton in Tallahassee next month to lobby for the law's repeal.

The law's ambiguity is further exemplified in the case of Michael Giles, an ex-Marine who was sentenced to 25 years after firing one shot into an attackers leg during a brawl outside a Tallahassee nightclub in the spring of 2010. Giles claimed self-defense but was found guilty of second-degree attempted murder. Giles is currently fighting the decision, petitioning Governor Rick Scott for clemency

While the debate surrounding Stand Your Ground continues to swirl, a small vigil beneath The Torch of Friendship reminded everyone in attendance that once these laws pass, they become real, with real consequences.

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Exiliado topcommenter

The Zimmerman case was NOT a Stand Your Ground case.

The Dunn case was NOT a Stand Your Ground case.

Please have some decency and some professional ethic. Research the topic before you write about it. 

frankd4 topcommenter

........................and it doesn't help that the parents took a money-grab at the first offer from the homeowners insurance carrier WHILE the kids body was still warm

where were trayvons parents on the night that he needed them the most ?

frankd4 topcommenter

...................the problem with TRAYVON as "the victim" is he was a nobody going no where and eventually would have wound up incarcerated or dead anyway

it's not like he was at the library studying for admission into HARVARD or volunteering in a hospital or church program assiting the needy - he was simply a drug-using drop-out on his third suspension from school idle unemployed with no proper parental guidance (and wasn't smart enough to contact a supervising adult in time of need with his cellphone - instead calling someone more stupid than he)

NO the kid should NOT have been killed BUT he could have out-run the fat wanna-be and easily fled the area and avoided confrontation which he was too stupid to do

i am sorry these circumstances happened but no advancement is possible here

Joshua Rashad Jones
Joshua Rashad Jones

Why don't you start a protest Phillip! It doesn't take a black community to do that for any death involving teens/kids of any race. You're asking a rhetorical question instead of providing a solution which makes what you're questioning irrelevant lol. C'mon man, be smarter than that. We're too focused on what other races do instead reaching out to help others regardless of color.

DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

The real tragedy of America's gun violence with the license to kill

walking home on a raining day? Get Shot.Text in the movies? Get shot. Music too loud? Get shot. Be an obnoxious kid? Get shot. going to school? Get shot. taking out the garbage? get shot. love going to mall? get shot. Loving pray in gurdwara? get shot? going to work? get shot.

Eduardo Yi
Eduardo Yi

Good point Phil, but black on black violence seldom makes the news :(

Phillip A. Rincón
Phillip A. Rincón

Yesterday three young girls were shot in liberty city. Where's the outrage and the protest on that?

frankd4 topcommenter want ME to help the BLACK community ?

pull up your pants, put your cap on correctly, stay in school and behave yourself, don't take drugs until your body is mature enough to handle them, don't get pregnant BEFORE you are married, get yourself an employable skill, learn as much as you can absorb, be respectful and positive and TAKE responsibility for your own actions = period

got that ?

frankd4 topcommenter

.................i would take a step back and look at the WHY before taking the story from the gunshot forward: (continued)

is the N R A to blame by it's actions ? well the N R A is such a monolithic organization it is everything to everyone wanting a GUN = period = all the nut-jobs and mental patients and morons and wanna-bes that it NO LONGER has a moral or ethical or standard bearing in the conversation - it is simply too big and politically powerful - i remember when my dad belonged and the magazine featured real and practical HUNTING related tips and articles and spoke to sportsmen and collectors ONLY and didn't get involved in political or legal goings on

is racism involved ? well BLACK on BLACK violence is practically UNnoticible to the average non-BLACK person yet FBI statistics high-light this as a significant nationwide EPIDEMIC and years ago gangland style "hits" met the same public NON-reaction in general which in and of itself is the MOST racist position WHITE america can and does take

frankd4 topcommenter

.................i would take a step back and look at the WHY before taking the story from the gunshot forward:

are we just too many people in too little space ? well the japanese don't have guns and live in very tight quarters and they exist as a civilized society

are we just de-sensitized to it as everyday ordinary occurances ? well the wild-west supposedly had everyone with a gun women and children too and it was lawless in places back then also

are too many with mental and physical deficiencies carrying guns ? well it would appear some people were perfectly normal before they snapped and started shooting and some people were obviously a matter of when to shoot giving of all the red flag signals of a ticking time bomb


Actually Phillip, to shed a bit more light on who we are and why we marched; every single person in attendance is currently or has been a teacher in the Liberty City, Overtown, Miami Gardens and North Miami communities.  We marched not only in remembrance of Trayvon and Jordan but also in the memory of many other students we've tragically lost, too soon.  We marched not only for our lost ones but also for the ones who are here with us, blossoming daily.   

HarryTheHandyman topcommenter

Sharpton and Jackson don't give a shit about that.  Its all about white on black crime for those two.

frankd4 topcommenter

...............................and JACKSON has yet to explain with any detail what HIS OWN involvement was in his son's fraud and deception of his BLACK constituents - he better clean his own house before he claims any mediator roles

frankd4 topcommenter

.......................and SHARPTON still has the TAWANA BRAWLEY incident to account for to gain any credibility at all in any non-black circles of influence which remains the NO 1 race issue to NYers even today

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