The Legalization of Vigilante Justice

An unarmed black teenager was shot in a “white district” because he seemed suspicious to a member of a vigilante group.

Apparently [such actions are] legal in the U.S., as the case of the killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman shows. The latter was acquitted by a grand jury in Florida. As opposed to the shooter, the jury was not necessarily racist in its decision; it just adhered to the “Stand your Ground” law. This law allows U.S. citizens to use deadly violence without punishment if they feel threatened.* Additionally, the burden of proof is being reversed. The shooter does not have to prove that he had no choice but to shoot in order to save his life; rather, the accusers must establish that the shooter had no reason to feel threatened. Because Trayvon Martin can no longer testify, it is hardly possible to prove that Zimmerman had no reason to feel threatened.

The Stand your Ground law opens the floodgates for vigilante justice and plays right into the hands of racist gun fanatics and wannabe police officers. As long as this law remains in force, Trayvon Martin will not be the last victim of this kind.

*Editor’s Note: “Stand your Ground” laws exist in many, but not all, U.S. states.

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