Aggies respond to death of Florida teen
Published: Friday, March 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
On Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., 28 year-old George Zimmerman, captain of his neighborhood watch, allegedly took it upon himself to approach a “suspicious looking” 17 year-old, Trayvon Martin. The events that ensued have sparked a nationwide outcry that justice is done. In an attempt to spread awareness of the death of Martin at the hands of Zimmerman, students have been placing Skittles on the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross.
Why Skittles? Martin was armed with nothing more than Skittles and iced tea, which he had just bought at a convenience store. The Skittles, along with the hoodie Martin was wearing, have become symbols of the event, prompting national action like the Million Hoodie March in New York City.
Sophomore political science major Aja Holston has been one of the students involved in spreading the news on campus. While there are many issues
surrounding the case, Holston said she, along with other minority students, recognize the racial aspect, causing them to act. On Wednesday night Holston and others held a candle light vigil for Martin and other victims.
“We decided to call it the Black Youth Vigil because Trayvon Martin isn’t the first black man to die senselessly, and he won’t be the last. So we wanted to honor those who have fallen,” Holston said.
Holston said it’s important to get Aggies involved, hence putting Skittles on the Sul Ross statue. While Holston said she focuses on the racial aspect, she said this event should be of wide-scale importance.
“Some people have shied away from this case because they feel like it’s a black-white component,” Holston said. “It’s something everyone should be involved with. The fight is against the system that has protected [Zimmerman] and the institution that is going to protect people like that.”
Others issues surrounding the case include some recently changed legislation in Florida that gave its citizens the right to defend themselves, as opposed to just attempting to escape from danger. In 2004, “Stand Your Ground” was passed, and it said that, in a dangerous situation, a citizen could stand and meet force with force.
Joe Ura, assistant professor of political science, said Texas has a similar law — the Castle Doctrine — but differs in where a citizen can practice this right.
“In Flordia it doesn’t matter where you are in terms of what your rights are for defending yourself,” Ura said. “In Texas you have many more rights if you’re in your home or on your property than you do if you’re out in public.”
Ura said, according to what he has seen in the media, Zimmerman was wrong in what he did, and shouldn’t be able to claim that he defended himself.
“It certainly seems to me he escalated a situation that didn’t need to be escalated. It appears that there is evidence that he was not in fact threatened by the teenager,” Ura said. “And if that in fact is the case, then he is a murderer and not someone who has defended himself.”
Ura added that in Texas law, there is a provision that states someone cannot claim self-defense if they provoke the other person.
Students on campus, like sophomore general studies major Shenell Encalarde, said that it is important for Aggies to become aware of what has happened — especially since this case has been handled poorly from the start, Encalarde said.
“[Zimmerman] has still not been arrested. The whole situation was wrong in the first place,” Encalarde said. “It seems like even the government has been taken to a whole other level, because it wasn’t taken care of from the beginning in the right manner it should have been.”
Encalarde said it’s important for Aggies to unite for the cause of bringing Zimmerman to justice.
“We want to unite for social justice and stand up for what we believe in, because, if you fail to stand for anything that you believe in, then you’ll fall for anything,” Encalarde said.