Morris Brown African Methodist Episcopal Church, joins like-minded citizens spanning the United States and people around the world who have expressed extreme disappointment upon hearing the verdict of “not guilty” pronounced in the case of the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman. We are concerned that the acquittal gives notice that any young African American male, walking down any street in America, having done nothing wrong, can be singled out, followed, harassed, shot and killed without consequence.
Many will argue that race was not the sole factor in this case however, no one can make the argument excluding race entirely. It is clear that George Zimmerman thought Trayvon Martin to be out of order as he walked through his neighborhood. Trayvon’s suspicion hinged on the fact that he was young, black and wore a hoodie.
“Stand your ground” was the argument used by attorneys for George Zimmerman as they set out to prove that he was merely defending himself. This, of course, begs the question, how one, ignoring every directive to cease and desist, can deliberately follow someone, until a physical altercation ensues and then find himself in a position that he must kill to defend himself. Our concern is that a verdict of “not guilty” clearly says that is ok. Will this not set an unreal precedent for others who are inclined to take the law into their own hands?
We do not advocate the abandonment of trust in the criminal justice system and stand boldly against any temptation or instigation of civil uprising, however in the wake of this tragedy we call upon the “people of justice” all across this great country to stand together against injustice in any form, anywhere. We cannot sanction laws that do nothing more than to allow armed vigilantes to become our lawmen. Certainly we cannot, in good faith, be satisfied to allow those with preconceived notions of who belongs based on race, color or creed to take the law into their own hands. We believe that dialogue bringing citizens to the table to at least review the parameters of “stand your ground” is necessary. To allow this law to continue unregulated is done in total contradiction to our promise of “justice for all” and with total disregard to every one connected to the Trayvon Martin family, the citizens of Florida as well as the people across the length and breadth of this nation.
The Commission on Christian Social Action
Sister Claudette Hart, Chair
Brother Julius Scott
Sister Rosa Wilson
Sister Cynthia Gerideau
Sister Katina Erving
Rev. Dr. Michelle Johnson
Rev. Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr., Servant Pastor