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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Martin shooting shows the flaw in Florida law

Murder is OK, if there’s a good reason. That is the message in the case of Trayvon Martin’s murder.

The stand-your-ground law in Florida states that causing harm to an individual is legal and acceptable if there is reasonable cause to believe that not taking action would result in imminent death or bodily harm.

The law goes into detail and clarifies these “reasonable causes” further; but basically, this law says that self-defense is OK and goes beyond to say the “attacker” does not have to physically attempt to cause harm before action against them is legally acceptable.

On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking down a street in a Florida neighborhood. The area’s neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, was patrolling in his car and spotted Martin. The following sequence of events has been a cause of great controversy and question over the past month. Zimmerman is on record for having called 911 more than 45 times over the course of his involvement with the neighborhood watch. On the day of the murder, Zimmerman called 911 and, without identifying himself or giving his location, told the operator that he spotted a suspicious-looking teenager. He also told the operator that “something’s wrong with him,” and that Martin was coming to check him out.

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There was something sounding like the word “coon” heard through the 911 call. If confirmed, this would imply racism towards Martin, a black teenage male, and a possible motive for violence from Zimmerman, who has been described as either white or Latino.

Assuming that race was not a factor, as family and friends of Zimmerman state, the reason Martin looked “suspicious” to Zimmerman is still unexplained.

Despite instructions from the 911 operator not to follow or confront the suspicious teen, Zimmerman followed Martin and got out of his car.

In the 911 call from Zimmerman, a cry or scream is heard before a gunshot, the shot that killed Martin. If the scream is matched to Martin when analyzed, Zimmerman could be facing murder charges. If it belongs to Zimmerman, it could help build a case of legal and necessary self-defense.

Regardless of the events of Feb. 26, this law is wrong. Self-defense is only justifiable if one is indeed defending oneself, not initiating the violence. And when self defense is necessary, it can often be taken too far.

Zimmerman is in hiding and remains a free man, despite the fact that he was the man who pulled the trigger and caused the end of a 17-year-old’s life.

He has not been arrested or prosecuted for the murder he committed.

There is no evidence that Martin attacked, threatened, or was even reasonably suspicious. But there is the bullet in his chest to prove that Zimmerman shot him, causing his death.

While there should be laws protecting those who act in defense of themselves or others when confronted with violent actions, there should never be a law protecting murderers.

Zimmerman should be arrested, and tried for this alleged crime. Whether he is found guilty or innocent should be based on the evidence, not on speculation that he could have been defending himself.

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