Benjamin Crump Op-Ed Makes Case for Stand-Your-Ground Amendment

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the parents of Trayvon Martin, has an interesting op-ed in the Washington Post this week. In it, he makes the case for an amendment to Florida’s stand-your-ground law. Given the fact that the Dream Defenders are no longer occupying the state Capitol and office of Florida’s Governor Rick Scott. For now, it appears that they’ve given up in their attempt to have legislators revisit the state’s stand-your-ground law in a special session — at least for now they’ve changed strategy. Given this I find the timing of Crump’s op-ed to be quite peculiar. Why? Because as it stands today, there is very little support among Florida’s legislator to revisit the stand-your-ground law for a possible amendment.

This from Tampa Tribune:

TALLAHASSEE — Proponents of a special session on Florida’s “stand your ground” law are losing by a more than 2-to-1 margin along party lines in a legislative poll.

“No” votes are leading “yes” votes 55-25, according to results released Tuesday night by the Department of State. The deadline for legislators to vote is Monday.

At this rate, Democratic lawmakers seeking the special session may have won the battle but lost the war.

They were able to muster enough support to trigger the poll, but Tuesday’s count suggests they won’t reach the three-fifths supermajority needed out of all 159 sitting legislators.

Proponents still need at least 70 of the 79 outstanding votes to reach three-fifths, which is required under state law.

With Republican majorities in both chambers that think the law is fine as is, getting that supermajority was always a tall order.

So as it stands right now, the only hope for opponents of the state’s controversial law is to secure huge Democratic gains at the ballot box. It’s apparent that Crump and company are well aware of the resurgence of youth activism sparked by the death of Trayvon Martin. And as Crump lays out in his piece, the success of an amendment lies in the youth voter turnout. This is good strategy especially when said turnout is historically low in midterm elections. So as far as strategy, this is a good move. However, considering that we’re a long way away from November 2014, I’m cautious that the current momentum will be lost. By the time midterm elections roll around, there’ll be no talk about stand-your-ground laws.

But hey, I can’t blame Crump for trying:

Sybrina Fulton talks with her attorney Benjamin Crump during a pre-trial hearing for George Zimmerman in SanfordWhy is it critical to amend stand-your-ground laws? The Trayvon Martin amendments are common-sense legislation that would alter such laws to prevent the initial aggressor in a confrontation from being able to later claim self-defense. Stand-your-ground laws were not enacted to allow aggressors the opportunity to get away with murdering an innocent person, although this is, unfortunately, what has happened. Law enforcement officers initially cited Florida’s stand-your-ground law in their refusal to arrest Trayvon’s killer, Zimmerman, in February 2012. In large part, this law permitted Trayvon’s killer to walk out of the courtroom and back into society. Passing these amendments would prevent this type of tragedy and protect others, especially children, from being profiled, pursued and killed by aggressors.

In asking the United States to start a conversation about the tragic circumstances of Trayvon’s death, President Obama expressed his concerns and the need to review stand-your-ground laws. Sen. John McCain and other prominent Republicans have joined Obama in questioning stand-your-ground statutes. Even former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the Republican who signed the state’s stand-your-ground legislation into law, has voiced concerns. Regarding the shooting of Trayvon, Bush said in March 2012, “ ‘Stand your ground’ means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.”

Here’s the problem with Crump’s commentary above: The law currently does not allow for someone who is the aggressor in an altercation to receive immunity. I’ve explained this in full detail recently, and if anything, I find this misrepresentation of the law to be especially egregious when coming from an attorney licensed in the state of Florida. So why id Crump doing this? If I had to guess, it’s all about money.

Yes, it’s the only explanation for him comparing Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till and Medgar Evers. And I’m sorry, I don’t see Trayvon’s death in the same light as I do that of the aforementioned. Clearly, the death of those individuals were racially motivated. Trayvon Martin’s death on the other hand? No. I know the idea of his death not being racially motivated is hard to accept by many. But hey, if you have evidence to support this idea, iot would’ve been nice if you would have come forward with it before now. Chances are, there would’ve been a conviction if you did.

Throughout history, positive change has come from tragedy. Society has learned that with time and through action, protests and national movements, change is possible. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 began in large part because of the brutal murder of another unarmed black teenager, Emmett Till, in Money, Miss., in 1955. It took nearly a decade before this tragedy resulted in the passage of the historic civil rights legislation. Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, eventually got to see something positive emerge from something very painful: an acknowledgment that her son’s death was not in vain.

The 1963 murder of Medgar Evers, another unarmed African American, led to positive change. During his life as an activist, Evers organized voter registration campaigns, demonstrations and boycotts to end Jim Crow laws in Jackson, Miss. His death was an influence for the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Even as we fight today for change, and may expect it to manifest immediately, it is important to understand that this process will take time. We should not, however, allow that to be a discouragement. We Trayvon voters must maintain a united front againststand- your- ground laws and continue to fight even at times when our efforts feel overlooked. No matter how seemingly impossible the task, if Trayvon voters remain steadfast, Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, will eventually see something positive come out of something very painful : an acknowledgment that their son’s death was not in vain.

As I’ve said before, the death of Trayvon Martin was tragic.Yes, he should be alive right now. However, to blame his death on Florida’s stand-your-ground law when it was never invoked at anytime during George Zimmerman’s trial is ridiculous (read here). The truith is that even without the law, with everything being equal, Zimmerman would have still been acquitted like he was. Why? Because his case was one of simple self-defense.

And as I’ve pointed out before, there was no need to invoke stand-your-ground by his attorneys because given the evidence, Zimmerman was not able to retreat while in the process of getting his ass beat. To me, the real tragedy is in someone with a law degree like Crump taking advantage of Trayvon’s parents. But hey, maybe once the DOJ indicts Zimmerman for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin, y’all can tell me I’m wrong.