Community activists and students at the University of Louisville are organizing a walkout and rally for Monday to raise awareness about the controversial shooting of a black teenager in Florida.
Last month, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who said the teen looked suspicious. According to the Sanford police report, Zimmerman was found standing over the high school student after telling officers he killed Martin in self defense.
Several protests have been held across the country calling for Zimmerman’s arrest and a federal probe is underway. Last Friday, President Obama addressed the shooting and said investigators will get to the bottom of what happened.
Mikal Forbush is one of the rally’s organizers and a program coordinator for the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace & Justice. He says the Martin shooting highlights the fact that African-American men are being targeted and he says all communities should address the issue.
“What we are hoping is this spawns a conversation in Louisville to look at how we see are young men, specifically are young black men and that a young black man because he’s wearing a hoodie does not instantly make him a suspect. He’s not something that should be feared because of his race or what he’s wearing,” he says.
Besides the issue of race and urban apparel, the shooting has put a spotlight on Florida’s “stand your ground ” law which was pushed by gun rights advocates over the years. The law gives a person the right to use deadly force without retreating inside or outside their home if they can reasonably claim self-defense.
Since the Martin shooting the National Rifle Association has continued to push for such legislation in others states as common sense solutions to combat violent crime. During his address on the matter, Mr. Obama said the law should be one of the things to examine but lawmakers who support Second Amendment bills have dodged such questions.
“We need to sit down and look at these laws and reevaluate them because the threat of bodily harm should not give you the right to murder somebody,” says Forbus. “I’m not saying you should not protect yourself, but just because of the threat of bodily harm should not give you the right to pull out a weapon and take somebody’s life.
The walkout is scheduled for Monday at noon near the Student Activities Center. Participants will then march to the university library.