23 March 2012

Justice for Trayvon Martin - Your action is needed!

Today (Friday, 23 March 2012) I am writing this blog entry from aboard Amtrak's Silver Star, Train 92, northbound out of Tampa to Jacksonville taking advantage of the earlier northbound departure due to track work being undertaken by CSX. The earlier departure allows you to see more of the northbound view in daylight, as Train 92 regularly departs Tampa sometime after 5 PM. If you wanted to do a day trip on Amtrak out of Tampa, you can go as far as Winter Haven or even as far as Sebring (if you're going to Sebring and back, check the schedule for southbound Train 91 to be sure it's not running late). Unfortunately, the trip to Jacksonville requires an overnight stay.

Let's get right down to business. By now you have seen on the new the unjustified and senseless murder of a young man - Trayvon Martin - at the hands of a neighborhood watch vigilante, George Zimmerman. This is legalized murder thanks to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, enacted in 2005.

Why should you care about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law?

Right now, with the way Stand Your Ground is written in the Florida Statutes it gives anyone the right to use deadly force if a person is threatened. Prior to the Trayvon Martin incident which has gained national and international headlines, we had a similar incident right here in our backyard in Palm Harbor that took place on 6 March 2012. According to this St. Petersburg Times article, Brandon Patrick Baker was shot by a 23-year-old security guard, Seth Browning, in an act of road rage. Concerned about Baker's driving, Browning called authorities but took things into his own hands as soon as Baker pulled over onto a side street. The altercation that ensued led to Baker being shot by Browning; Baker later died of the injuries resulting from the shooting. It was later learned that Browning was a security guard working for Critical Intervention Services and that no charges would be brought against Browning.

An armed security guard turned road vigilante? That is extremely dangerous, and that was not the intent of Stand Your Ground. It was an act of road rage that turned deadly with a senseless loss of life. What makes me so mad is that Seth Browning is not held accountable for his actions. A few weeks later, we now have the Travon Martin incident in Sanford where he was shot by a neighborhood watch vigilante, George Zimmerman. Again, George Zimmerman is not held accountable for his actions.

Just recently I signed a petition which is being faxed to our legislators in Tallahassee calling for the repeal of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law through CREDO Action. I received an email from CREDO Action thanking me for signing the petition for justice for Trayvon Martin and I would like to share it with you:

The recently released 911 tapes that captured 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's final moments of life are absolutely chilling. In the background, you can hear as the teenager screamed for help before being brutally shot by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed leader of the neighborhood watch.

Zimmerman took it upon himself to determine that Trayvon Martin, a young African American, was "suspicious." He then disregarded the instructions of a 911 dispatcher and initiated a confrontation with Trayvon Martin that left the unarmed youth dead.

Shockingly, despite a checkered past and witness accounts that dispute Zimmerman's version of events, he has yet to be arrested or charged because he claimed that he shot this unarmed child in self-defense. Zimmerman remains free, weeks after Trayvon Martin's killing, because of Florida's controversial "Shoot First" law.

NOTE: "Shoot First" and "Stand Your Ground" are the same thing. CREDO Action refers to Stand Your Ground as "Shoot First".

Florida's Shoot First law, combined with the state's permissive concealed weapons laws, gives armed vigilantes like George Zimmerman virtual carte blanche to shoot anyone they deem as a threat, with no legal requirement to first attempt to remove themselves from a dangerous situation. We need to repeal "Shoot First" to prevent future tragedies like Trayvon Martin's killing.

I just sent a fax to my Florida senator and representative urging them to support the repeal of "Shoot First." You can too - click this link to send a free fax to your Florida senator and representative.

As I mentioned earlier, as Stand Your Ground is written in the Florida Statutes, this law allows anyone that has a legal right to carry a weapon - such as a concealed weapons permit holder or a private security guard holding a G License (in Florida, private security guards must hold one or two licenses: The first license, a D License, allows one to be a security guard in the state of Florida with the exception of carrying a weapon. In order for a private security guard to carry a weapon, then a second license that allows for the carriage of a weapon, a G License, must be applied for and carried together with the D License) - to deal with any situation using deadly force. As long as Stand Your Ground is on the books, we Floridians will live in fear of people who decide to engage in vigilante type activities like what George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin in Sanford or what Seth Browning did to Brandon Baker in Palm Harbor.

The outcome is the same: Neither George Zimmerman nor Seth Browning took responsibility for their actions. Their actions were legal, thanks to Stand Your Ground.

How many more innocent Floridians will fall victim to vigilantism carried out by private persons and armed security guards? We need to take back our state and let law enforcement do what they were trained to do in the very first place: To serve and protect the citizens and residents of our great state.

I urge you to please sign the petition calling for justice for Trayvon Martin over at the CREDO Action website. Here is the link that will take you straight to the CREDO Action website so that you can sign the petition. After you sign the petition, come back here and leave your comments. (Remember, I know what happened with Trayvon Martin in Sanford - as well as Brandon Baker in Palm Harbor a few weeks earlier - has made me angry and I am with you 100 percent, but please keep the comments clean).


Anonymous said...


Edward Ringwald said...

Anonymous, thanks for the web site. I have updated the blog entry with a link to that site.

Anonymous said...

Good job, Ed. Thank you !!

Edward Ringwald said...

You're welcome, anytime.

Edward Ringwald said...

Just a quick reminder for everyone: Commenting is welcome, but please keep the comments clean or it won't show up here. Remember, this blog is moderated.

Please review the community guidelines for commenting on my blogs here:


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