This is an example of the good that is emerging from the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
The Dream Defenders: African-American and Latino youth as well as supporters are standing their ground against Florida state government. They are “raising hell” in a good way by swarming Governor Rick Scott’s office demanding that he allow the passing and implementation of a bill called the Trayvon Martin Act. The bill addresses the Stand Your Ground laws, racial profiling and the school-to-prison pipeline system in Florida.
These courageous law abiding young people simply want to have a shot at living their lives. Dealing with youth violence is bad enough, let alone having the added burden of living under the threat of landing in the penal system or losing their life because of the likes of overzealous trigger-happy cops and gun toting vigilantes.
Zero-Tolerance policies are a mainstay in schools throughout the country. It is here in Illinois as well as Florida. Zero-Tolerance policy in schools is a policy of punishing any infraction of a rule, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances.* Many opponents of Zero-Tolerance Policy feel it funnels African-American and Latino children into the penal system by disproportionately suspending , expelling and/or arresting students for infractions in school, without consideration of circumstances. There have been cases where Kindergartners and primary grade school students have literally been arrested for infractions such as temper tantrums. I wrote of one case in an earlier post [ ].
A recent study titled, Suspended Education Urban Middle Schools in Crisis by researchers Daniel Losen and Russell Skiba, reported that African American male students were nearly three times as likely to be suspended or expelled from school than whites male students; African-American females four times as likely than white female students.
In 2007, the Department of Justice released a study that stated African-Americans and Hispanics were roughly three times as likely to be searched during a traffic stop, African-Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and African-Americans were nearly four times as likely to experience the threat or use of force during interactions with the police.
Operation Ghetto Storm, an initiative started by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) found at least 136 unarmed African Americans were killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes in 2012. Overall, one black person was killed in an extrajudicial shooting every 28 hours.
In lieu of the fact that so many unarmed black male deaths go unreported, it is a miracle that Trayvon Martin’s case was able to break through the apathy. The wonders of social media. Through the death of this boy and the acquittal of his killer, people of color are finding their voice through their anger and tears. It is igniting a long overdue movement for justice throughout this nation. Florida’s Dream Defenders are a by-product of this growing peaceful endeavor. The Florida youth may be defending their dreams, but in doing so, they are defending the dreams of children of color throughout this nation.
Tags: Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida youth occupy Tallahassee statehouse, Occupy Florida Statehouse, Racial profiling, School-to-prison pipeline, Stand Your Ground laws, The Dream Defenders, Trayvon Martin Act, Zero-Tolerance policy