Reaction to Martin Sparks Student Vigil
Students host vigil to remember Martin during finals week.
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:04
George Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder yesterday after fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin a little over a month ago. The case of Zimmerman killing Martin in a gated community of Sanford, Florida has remained an international controversy.
Zimmerman, a leader within The Retreat at Twin Lakes Homeowners Association has admitted to shooting Martin on the rainy evening of Feb. 26. Recordings obtained by the media reveal he was following Martin in his truck against the consent of police dispatchers before the confrontation.
“This guy looks like he is up to no good,” said Zimmerman in the recording.
Zimmerman lost track of Martin and was returning to his vehicle when he told Sanford police detectives that Martin attacked him from behind.
Then-Police Chief Bill Lee said detectives were unable to arrest Zimmerman because of Florida’s self-defense law, which gives wide leeway to use deadly force and eliminates a person’s duty to retreat in the face of danger.
Zimmerman had developed a reputation for monitoring the neighborhood and department records show he made 46 calls to police since 2004, which for some begs the question of Zimmerman’s mental health. But sophomore Danielle Whitbeck disagrees, emphasizing that despite the motive or skepticism about Zimmerman’s behavior, “There is still a dead 17-year-old,” Whitbeck said.
During finals week last quarter, Santa Clara students Amber Larkin and Kareema Thomas organized a vigil for Martin within days of his death. Lester Deanes, assistant dean for Student Life, was present at the event.
At 10 p.m. on March 22, a diverse group of about 25 students wore hoods, taped their mouths and walked from the Mission Church to the Free Speech Zone. Participants stood in line facing the bookstore for approximately an hour as students walked in and out of Benson.
“Some students looked away, some laughed, others tried to make sure they didn’t make eye contact with anyone,” said Deanes. “I was surprised with how many people didn’t want to know what was going on.”
Anayo Awuzie, one of the students who participated in the event, was grateful to come together with other Santa Clara students who cared about the case, but she was disappointed in the students averting their gaze and avoiding the vigil.
“I’ve long given up on Santa Clara’s awareness or ability to care about racial issues ... Santa Clara is not the place that I expect to have a response for this sort of thing,” Awuzie said.
Junior Dimitri Woods, who also participated in the vigil, was upset about the media coverage surrounding Trayvon’s death.
“News organizations were digging up dirt on the late teen to defame his character rather than focusing on the fact that he was murdered senselessly for being a black male in the United States where racism, contrary to popular idealized belief, still exists,” said Woods.
Multicultural Center Director Gustavo Magana is cautious about media reports on the case, but hopes the validity of the Stand Your Ground law in this scenario will be reviewed.
California has similar, yet more specific standards for use of force.
In California, self-defense laws stipulate that a person must believe they are in imminent danger where immediate force is necessary to prevent that danger. And even then, individuals can use no more than necessary force to defend themselves against that threat.
This week it was reported that if Martin’s family sued over his death, they might target the Homeowners Association for seemingly endorsing Zimmerman and his actions.
Sophomore Nehika Miglani chose to refrain from making judgment on the case until the investigation can be clarified to the public.
“I feel like until there are more facts we can’t really side with anyone,” saud Miglani. “The best thing we can support right now is just insisting on honesty.”
Contact Elizabeth Ambriz-Mendez at EAmbrizmendez@scu.edu or (408)554-4849. Mike Schneider and Tony Winton of the Associated Press contributed to this report.