Posted by Debby Yoder, ATHENS, GA -- Like at many universities and colleges all over the country, a rally was recently held at the
University of Georgia (UGA) Arch to bring attention to the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old that was killed while walking home from a convenience store. He was shot dead by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who assumed Trayvon, a young Black man with his hoodie up, was up to no good. Ironically, the teenager, who was walking back to his father's fiancée's house in the community, only had Skittles and a bottle of ice tea in his pockets. At the rally the diverse crowd waved, raised their signs and called out to motorists passing by to honk in support. "Hoodies Don't Kill," read one of the signs. "Raise Your Hoods," read another. Protestors were met with much support and enthusiasm.
Yes, hoodies don't kill, and just last week the Prosecutor in the Martin case brought charges against the shooter, 28 year-old George Zimmerman -- perhaps prompting people who have been following the case to put on their hoodies as a sign of solidarity. Nonetheless, while hoodies may have become signs of injustice and solidarity, at the heart of this tragedy is Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, enacted in 2005. Interestingly, this legislation was opposed by sheriff’s offices and district attorneys across the state but heavily backed by the National Rifle Association(NRA). Since its passage the number of "justifiable homicide" claims has tripled.
At UGA's rally, one pedestrian, a White man in his 60’s, heckled the protesters with angry hateful threats as he walked by. His taunts were met with restrained eye rolls and little direct focus, as if there was fear among the crowd that he might have a gun. This made me wonder what would have happened if someone had “stood their ground” against his threats. After all, Georgia does protect this right just like Florida. But perhaps the crowd had already done that in a non-violent way by raising their hoods.
Debby Yoder is a Sociology major at Georgia State University. She loves meeting new people and discovering the world around her. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.