By now, if you’ve been following the Zimmerman case to any extent, or even just turned on the TV news and listened to it in the background, you know that George Zimmerman was found not guilty by a Florida jury, after having been charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
The case centered on Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which arguably made it possible for Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, to pursue the 17-year-old Martin and get into an altercation with him, ultimately shooting and killing him out in the open when he believed his life was in danger.
The stand-your-ground law in that state differs from the law in many other states, including Maryland, which (generally speaking) excuses the use of lethal force in one’s own home, but not out in the open. In a public space (again, generally speaking), a person has a duty to retreat before using lethal force. Not so in Florida.
Beth Reinhard with the National Journal writes that Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s popularity with African American voters may be at an all-time low after his support of his state’s version of the stand-your-ground law, and opines that it could very well spell defeat for Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Needless to say, what happened in the Zimmerman case is fairly complex, so it’s dangerous to boil it down to one quote, but we’ll give it a shot: Reinhard quotes political fundraiser John Morgan: “White voters see it as having a right to protect our neighborhoods and black voters see it as a license to kill. No one wants to get past the bumper stickers.”