If there is any good that can come out of the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death and the miscarriage of justice in George Zimmerman’s acquittal, it’s the raised awareness about other injustices. On Friday, speaking at the National Urban League convention in Philadelphia Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said: “My message to you is: Please use my story, please use my tragedy, please use my broken heart to say to yourself, we cannot let this happen to anybody else’s child.” Fulton was urging people to organize against racial profiling and gun laws and Stand Your Ground, a law that exists in over 20 states, that gives people the right to use deadly force with no duty to retreat. Most states allow this in the home but Stand Your Ground gives people this “freedom” outside the house. And though Zimmerman didn’t seek to use Stand Your Ground to get his case dismissed (most likely because his legal team feared putting him on the stand where he’d face cross-examination), the principle influenced the case and the jury instruction.
In addition to increased calls to repeal Stand Your Ground, Martin’s case has highlighted other cases of injustice and double standards. A prime example of this is Marissa Alexander, an 32-year-old African-American mother of three, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for shooting at a wall to scare off her abusive husband. No one was killed. No one was even hurt. Alexander’s husband, whom she had a restraining order, admitted to abusing Marissa, as well as “put[ting] [his] hands” on all his “baby mamas.” Alexander attempted to use the Stand Your Ground law. But unbelievably, a jury took 12 minutes of deliberating to sentence Alexander to 20 years. (This, sadly, isn’t unbelievable, given the racist application of Stand Your Ground.)