While the United States is said to have the most fair jury trial framework in the world, our criminal justice system still has many flaws. I'm struggling to accept how George Zimmerman was found "not guilty" by a jury in the killing of 17-year old African-American Trayvon Martin - and I'm not the only one. I'm not the only one.
Toni Braxton, an American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist who has won six Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and nine Billboard Music Awards took to her Twitter account and expressed her pain and sympathy for Trayvon's surviving family:
I proudly retweeted Braxton's message as I too am embarrassed to be an American when our government and society fail to empower and protect all people. Braxton's compassion, however, triggered Fort Lauderdale Tea Party founder Danita Kilcullen into a racist episode and she posted this to her Facebook. (Screenshot after the break.)
yo girl You can't take America's justice system??? Go be an African!!
Here in Broward County, Kilcullen is a regular at meetings of the Broward County School Board Diversity Committee and like her hero Allen West, she opposes tolerating a multicultural society. This is the same Diversity Committee where her friend Tom Lauder serves as vice chair and asserted that LGBT groups have a homosexual agenda. Lauder is more commonly known in local politics as Red Broward and writes for Daily Broward and Media Trackers.
Last year when Florida Governor Rick Scott refused to appoint Florida Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith to serve on a special task force headed by former Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, Smith created his own task force to review Florida's self-defense laws and issued recommendations that were ignored by Governor Scott and the leadership of the GOP-controlled Florida State Legislature.
(Before Carroll resigned as Florida's lieutenant governor, she made headlines for her disparaging remarks about black lesbians while denying allegations she was having a lesbian affair with a staffer.)
At a hearing of Smith's special task force, I spoke about how Florida is increasingly becoming a multicultural state despite the legislature's refusal to embrace that wonderful diversity among its residents and tourists. Having traveled traveled extensively throughout Florida, I have personally witnessed scorn and intolerance for LGBT people and vocalized that I fear one day we may once again be forced have a national debate about Stand Your Ground laws that ignore factors of racial profiling and a healthy appreciation of Florida's amazing diversity. From an LGBT perspective, I raised the concern for perhaps an individual might attempt to hide behind the Stand Your Ground law as a type of "panic defense."
Senator Smith has renewed his demand for Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Florida State Legislature to re-evaluate and improve Florida's self defense laws to ensure justice. In a press statement, Smith stated:
"The self defense claims invoked by George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin once again highlighted the glaring shortcomings in our self defense laws," said Senator Smith. "While "Stand Your Ground" was originally claimed by Zimmerman, his attorneys ultimately opted to defend their client under Florida's self defense statutes. And those statutes, whether they involve the meaning of certain terms, or the basics of provocation, remain fuzzily defined and broadly drawn, mirroring in many ways the same egregious loopholes found in "Stand Your Ground." And, as the Zimmerman trial unfortunately underscored, open to creative interpretation."
Trayvon's murder at such a tender young age must be Florida's rallying cry and mobilization to force sensible gun control and self-defense law reform. Let's celebrate the lives and future of our youth who are taken from this world. Lets honor that struggle by engaging our government to provide all people with the greatest protection and recourse - especially in life or death circumstances.