Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the teenager killed by George Zimmerman on February 26th of last year, spoke in front of a Senate panel on Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. Her objective was to ask Senate to clarify and reform the wording of the now-controversial "Stand Your Ground" Act.
The particular case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman began a debate on "stand your ground" laws, even though Zimmerman's defense did not ever reference the law in question. Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder this summer. The aquittal stirred racial tensions across the nation and sparked more fighting over the law.
"It's unfortunate what has happened with Trayvon, and that's why I feel like it's so important for me to be here so that you all can at least put a face with what has happened with this tragedy.", Fulton stated to the panel. “The person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today. This law does not work.”
The meeting redirected attention to the emotionally charged issue, conveniently, just when the 2014 elections are on everyone's minds, and it also seemed to cause many Senate democrats to agree with Fulton, possibly in order to help them hang on to their seats.
Many Republican committee members said the laws do not need to be handled on a federal level, but rather left to the states. Such laws are currently on the books in more than 20 states.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz said, “This is not about politicking. This is not about inflaming racial tensions. This is about the right of everyone to protect themselves and protect their families.” Cruz made reference to statistics that, he said, show that African Americans cite stand-your-ground laws in self-defense at least as often as whites.
"With only a few exceptions most states are doing quite well with legislating in the area of criminal law without our interference," said Rep. Louie Gohmert. "Let's leave state criminal law to the consideration of the state legislatures that we in Congress would probably be well served to take advice from the states that are still solvent."
However, not all committee members feel that way. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said, "It is clearly time for 'stand your ground' laws to be carefully reviewed and reconsidered."
"Whatever the motivation behind them, it's clear these laws often go too far in encouraging confrontations that escalate into deadly violence. They're resulting in unnecessary tragedies and they are diminishing accountability under our justice system."
Only time will tell whose politics will win out.
Image via youtube