The case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot and killed while walking unarmed through a Florida gated community, has sparked a fire of controversy.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood-watch captain, claims he pulled the trigger in self-defense. However, the recent release of 911 tapes reveals that the Sanford, Fla. resident was told not to follow the teen, an alleged suspicious person.
"He's got his hand in his waistband and he's a black male," Zimmerman told the dispatcher, revealing he was also following Martin. "We don't need you to do that," the dispatcher told him.
Regardless, Zimmerman continued to follow the teen. Shots were fired seconds later.
According to authorities, Martin was carrying a cellphone, bag of skittles, and an iced tea. The teen’s parents have called for FBI involvement because they feel local police are failing to do their job.
“They're treating this as if my son is ‘the perp,’” said Tracy Martin, the boy’s father. “My son is the victim here. It can't be self-defense. What was he gonna do, attack him with a bag of Skittles?”
The 17-year-old’s death has raised questions about Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” law, which allows individuals who perceive a threat to use deadly force without first trying to retreat. It was issued in 2005 and since then 16 other states have adopted similar laws.
However, this goes against one of the first rules of self-defense which is to AVOID fighting someone who threatens or attacks you and rather use your smarts to get out of the situation. Below are some other common self-defense myths.
- Nobody you know would attack you. Almost 90% of violence against women is considered sexual assault and about 85% of that is committed by someone the victim knows. This could be a friend, acquaintance, family member or intimate partner.
- Self-defense is mainly physical skill and screaming “NO!” It’s actually about recognizing and avoiding dangerous situations so you never have to use your physical skills.
- Women are targeted based on their look/what they wear. Attackers choose their victims based on what they think they can get away with. Who won’t tell? Or who they can overpower with the least amount of struggle.
What can you do?