Last year, our son Trayvon Martin was stalked, chased down and killed by George Zimmerman, and Zimmerman received no punishment whatsoever. That’s in large part because Florida is one of at least 21 states with some form of ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which enables people like George Zimmerman to claim self-defense.
‘Stand Your Ground’ was never meant to give aggressors the opportunity to get away with murder, but that is what happened when our son Trayvon was killed. After Trayvon’s death, law enforcement used the law as an excuse to refuse to arrest George Zimmerman. Even worse, the jury in the case was instructed to think of what Zimmerman did as self-defense, even though Zimmerman ignored instructions from the police and instigated conflict with our son, who was just trying to get home to his father.
We are shocked and heartbroken by the jury’s decision to allow our son’s killer to go free. Despite our despair, we must honor Trayvon’s legacy by doing all that we can to protect other young people from being targeted, pursued, and senselessly murdered.
We started a petition on Change.org calling on 21 governors whose states have some form of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws to review those laws and amend them so that people who instigate conflicts – people like George Zimmerman – won’t be able to use these laws to get away with murder.
We are not the only ones calling for ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws to be reviewed. President Obama spoke out on the need for review, and prominent Republicans like Senator John McCain have joined him. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s not ‘black’ or ‘white’ issue, it’s a wrong and right issue.
This is a matter of making sure that no other family will ever have to go through what we have been through. No parents should ever have to know what it feels like to watch your child’s killer walk free.
Our hearts broke on the night of February 26, 2012 when George Zimmerman killed our son – and we were stunned and devastated when the police refused to arrest Zimmerman. We petitioned for Zimmerman’s arrest on Change.org, and after more than 2 million people joined our call, Zimmerman was charged with our son’s murder. We felt so much closer to justice for Trayvon, and so grateful for the support of those who signed our petition.
But on July 13, 2013, our hearts broke again when the jury set Zimmerman free. Our hearts broke because it is so hard to accept that we can’t protect Trayvon anymore. But we can fight to make sure that this never happens again.
We want to say thank you to all of you who have stood up for our son. Because of all your efforts, Trayvon’s life is celebrated all over the world. Please continue to stand with us as we fight to ensure that his legacy is to leave behind a safer and more peaceful world for all our sons and daughters.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton