“Trayvon Martin made the wrong decision and now he is in the cemetery,” “Messing with drugs and living a thug life will land you one of two places ...,” “The hoodie is just as responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”
These are some of the statements that have recently been reported in the media. Trayvon Martin, 17, walked to the store for Skittles and tea on the afternoon of Feb. 26 and walked back home with his hoodie on because it was raining (whether it was raining or not, he had the right to wear his hoodie). He was followed and approached for “looking suspicious,” and was killed in what police deemed a “self-defense shooting.” Rather than allowing the proper authorities to handle the report of suspicious behavior, Zimmerman initiated the series of events that led to Martin’s death by overstepping his bounds as a neighborhood watchman and disregarding the advice of the 911 operator. But for Zimmerman’s actions, Martin would be alive today. Neither Martin’s suspension from school nor his previous mistakes or behaviors negate the fact that Zimmerman was overzealous in pursuing Martin. Zimmerman had a proclivity for contacting police. Why did he not allow them to do their duty to serve and protect?
Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law needs to be reviewed and revised immediately. Any time one can use a law to justify a shooting because they fear for their life, there is a propensity for error in judgment; it can become a license for vigilantism. Am I saying that Zimmerman was playing the role of a vigilante? I am not. I do not know everything that transpired because I was not present when the confrontation occurred, but I do believe that Trayvon’s death could have been avoided had Zimmerman not felt empowered.
This death was such a tragedy in that a teenager innocently walked from the store with his hoodie and ended up in the morgue because he looked suspicious. Is this acceptable in our society? Absolutely not! My heart and prayers go out to Trayvon’s family because any mother could sympathize with the pain of the loss of a child compounded by the senseless “profiling and mislabeling” of our youth. I have a husband and two adult sons who wear hoodies; they prefer wearing hoodies rather than jackets, especially when jogging or working out. It is both their preference and their right to wear them. Wearing a hoodie makes you no more a thug than wearing a suit makes you a businessman or wearing jersey makes you a pro athlete. Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgeway, both prolific serial killers, fooled many by the way they dressed and by the way they lived proving, once again, that appearances can be very deceiving.
This tragic shooting was yet another example of a person being profiled by appearance. Our society cannot continue to judge and misjudge people based upon how they dress or look; it is unjust to continue the biased practice of profiling.