The National Organization for Women is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the African-American teenager shot and killed while walking home from a convenience store in Sanford, Florida. Unarmed, Trayvon was carrying a bag of candy and an iced tea when he was gunned down near his father’s home by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman in a gated community.
We are appalled by how poorly this case has been handled by local authorities in Sanford. It has now been almost four weeks since Martin’s death, and the shooter, George Zimmerman, is still walking free. Police Chief Bill Lee’s self-imposed temporary leave of absence is not enough. The authorities in Sanford need to fire the chief and arrest and prosecute the shooter.
NOW stands with Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, his father, Tracy Martin, and other family and supporters in calling for justice in this senseless crime. We also join our Florida NOW chapter and the organization’s National Combating Racism Committee in urging every law enforcement agency involved, including the Justice Department, to conduct a complete and fair investigation of an incident that bears all the hallmarks of a hate crime.
NOW also calls for repeal of the controversial ‘Stand Your Ground Laws’ before another life is taken in the name of vigilantism. Enacted in 2005, the Florida law allows individuals to use deadly force anywhere against anyone they believe is a ‘threat’ to their life. Some 20 other states in the U.S. have similarly broad laws that are, essentially, a license to kill.
No mother should have to lose a child, especially to such horrible violence. NOW will continue to work with allied organizations to change police practices, politically-motivated laws and social attitudes that put too many African-American teens at risk for the “crime” of walking while young and black.