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One year after Trayvon Martin murder, University of Florida Students speak out

By Skye Schmelzer |
March 1, 2013
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Gainesville, FL - The University of Florida (UF) chapters of Dream Defenders and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) hosted a speak-out on the one-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder, Feb. 26. Martin, a 17-year-old black youth, was shot dead on Feb. 26, 2012, in a racist attack by a neighborhood vigilante named George Zimmerman. Martin’s family created an online petition to arrest Zimmerman and it quickly grew into thousands protesting across the country. Six weeks passed before police arrested Zimmerman.

University of Florida SDS and Dream Defenders made clear their two demands: the conviction of George Zimmerman for murder, and the immediate repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. “There is no doubt that Zimmerman murdered Trayvon. Nobody doubts that. What they do doubt, however, is whether or not the reasons for the murder were racially charged. I, for one, have no doubt – especially given the types of evidence Zimmerman’s defense may bring to the trial – that Zimmerman is a racist who attacked and murdered an innocent black youth,” stated Chrisley Carpio of the UF Dream Defenders.

Zimmerman’s defense is attempting to criminalize Martin based on racial stereotyping. On the opening day of Zimmerman’s trial, June 10, the defense will attempt to dehumanize and smear Trayvon Martin.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law may become a point of contention within the case as well. UF SDS and Dream Defenders have made it clear that they will be pressuring legislatures to repeal this law. “Stand Your Ground has been used as a tool to justify the murders of innocent Black people,” said Michela Martinazzi of UF SDS.

The speak-out had 45 people in attendance with speakers from UF Dream Defenders, UF SDS, Club Creole, CHISPAS, Occupy Gainesville, and many others. The student groups plan to host protests both at Zimmerman’s pre-trial hearing on April 22 and his trial on June 10.