Trayvon Martin Case Prompts Reflections on Law, Order, and Community

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By now, most of us have heard of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African-American boy who was shot and killed while walking through a friend’s gated community in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman who is not black, and who thought Martin looked suspicious. Martin had no weapons on him — only a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea.

Zimmerman was questioned. He said that the shooting was in self-defense and invoked the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. After questioning, he was released — a fact that has many in the community feeling upset and uncertain about their criminal justice system. Throughout the next half hour, we’ll be talking with several people about this case.

Valerie Houston is Pastor at Allen Chapel Church in Sanford, Florida. Last night, she hosted a community meeting with the NAACP, the mayor of Sanford, the Sanford Chief of Police, and local residents.

Ben Montgomery is a staff writer with the Tampa Bay Times. He’s extensively investigated the “Stand Your Ground” law and compiled statistics on how and when it’s been invoked.

Farai Chideya is a journalist and blogger at Farai.com. Farai will help us explore whether laws like “Stand Your Ground” do more harm than good.