The parents of Trayvon Martin asked the government to review and amend the “Stand Your Ground” law Tuesday at the first public meeting of Gov. Rick Scott's Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection.
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, along with attorney Benjamin Crump, spoke at the meeting, held in Longwood, just milies from where Trayvon Martin was fatally shot in Sanford earlier this year. Trayvon Martin’s brother, Jahvaris Fulton, was also present. The family stood in front of several boxes of petitions gathered online that read “375,000 Americans to reform shoot first laws.”
“We come here simply to address the task force and ask them to consider the Trayvon Martin amendment to the Stand Your Ground law, and that is, you cannot be the pursuer, you cannot initiate the confrontation and then say that you were standing your ground,” Crump said. “What a horrible message that sends to society.”
Tracy Martin, who told media he and Trayvon Martin’s mother needed to be the voice of their son, said that Florida's 2005 Stand Your Ground law encourages vigilantes.
“What this law is saying to us is that it’s OK to be a vigilante in society today, and the public is not going to stand around for it, and we’re certainly not going to stand around for it,” he said.
Fulton said she believed her 17-year-old son was afraid and was standing his own ground when he was killed by George Zimmerman.
“I don’t have anything against the Stand Your Ground laws, it’s just the way that it’s applied does not make sense to me,” she said.
Tuesday's gathering a Longwood church was the first of six meetings to be held around the state to examine Florida's controversial law. Trayvon Martin's shooting triggered the review of the statute, but the task force's leader, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, said the review will not be limited to the confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman.
Crump also referenced the shooting of 29-year-old Kijuan Byrd, who was fatally shot by a security guard outside of Club Lexx on June 1, according to police. He said the law, in both cases, did not consider the victims.
“The message is sent to society that you can shoot somebody and you won’t be arrested, you won’t be held accountable,” he said.
Miami Congresswoman Frederica Wilson announced she will introduce the Stand Your Ground Repeal Act next week after what she called a “horrendous crime” and “travesty of justice.”
“My legislation would withhold a portion of transportation funds from any state that has a law that allows an armed person to pursue, confront and shoot to kill an unarmed person in public,” the Democrat said in a press release.