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Social Worker: Trayvon Martin case shows fragile status of black middle class

Trayvon Martin. Photo courtesy of Good Magazine.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Florida shows that despite economic gains and the fact an African Americanis president, the black middle class remains on fragile footing, National Association of Social Workers member Phillipe Copeland said in this Good Magazine article.

“We are incredibly vulnerable to violence in all its forms,” said Copeland, MTS, MSW, LICSW, an adjunct professor at the Simmons School of Social Work in Boston.

Q: Social workers, what do you think about the Trayvon Martin case? From a social work perspective what can be done to prevent similar violence from recurring?

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  1. I’m wondering why Stand Your Ground is being attacked. Obviously, that is not a defense in this situation. The dispatcher on the phone clearly told Zimmerman not to persue him. It is sad that the case was almost ignored, and even sadder to think of all the cases like this that are ignored.

  2. As thousands of citizens protest the killing of Trayvon Martin, 28 United States Senators this week co-sponsored federal legislation that would allow people authorized to carry concealed weapons in their home state to do the same in any other states that allow concealed carry, regardless of the considerable variance in state CC laws.

    Consider this: Florida, where Martin lived and where his killer still resides, has determined through a state audit that it has issued 1,700 concealed carry permits to individuals with criminal histories, arrest warrants, domestic violence injunctions and misdemeanor convictions for gun-related crimes. Yet Florida law does not allow for the revocation of improperly issued permits!

    Consider this, if Martins killer had been a commissioned law enforcement officer, his service firearm would have been taken as evidence pending conclusion of the investigation. Martins’ killer still has the firearm allegedly used in the killing and he still has a valid conceal carry permit. And he is claiming the states “stand your ground” law as his excuse / defense.

    In essence we have made fear, however illogical or prejudicial, a justification for capital punishment. It’s the law. What’s wrong with this picture?

    31 states have statutes similar to Floridas. What are YOUR states laws? And what are your state and federal representatives doing about this? Now, what are YOU going to do about it?

  3. I’ve already written to both of my senators in Florida. Both of them told me that they fully supported the Second Amendment. One of them told me that now was not the time to amend the “Stand Your Ground” law, Florida Statute 776.013. I’ve written to my congressional representative as well, but as much as I know she is on my side, she never writes back, period.

    I’d like to correct Gary Bachmann on one point. The police confiscated Zimmerman’s weapon and it’s been in evidence since the night of the shooting. I agree with him, however, in lamenting that people can carry concealed weapons in Florida regardless of their violent histories and felonious backgrounds. That is wrong, and I can’t believe my senators want to tolerate it as if it were an infringement on the Second Amendment to correct the problem.

    What troubles me is the current application of “Stand Your Ground.” It is flawed, and this case is a clear demonstration of its weakness. I believe there is enough evidence to convict George Zimmerman of manslaughter, but he will probably walk because he says Martin confronted him and picked a fight. What’s more, many of Zimmerman’s defenders have written racist and bigoted rants not only against Martin, but African Americans as a whole. Moreover, they instantly label anyone who stands up for Martin as a liberal with “white guilt.” I have to admit I am shocked and dismayed that such a profound hatred still exists in our society.

    They say “an armed society is a polite society.” I could hardly disagree more. The word polite is not how I would characterize Zimmerman’s supporters or those who want to arm every citizen to the teeth. An armed society is an aggressive society, and where laws permit the shooting of other citizens, it allows the fastest, meanest, most predatory citizens to become tyrants.

    Now that they realize Zimmerman will probably walk, I have no doubt that we’ll eventually see first-degree murders being claimed as self defense. That is a real prospect for my state. Amending this law would be simple, and it would not damage the right to keep and bear arms. Unfortunately, I don’t think either of my senators see it this way. They both view any attempt to amend this law as an attempt to abolish the Second Amendment.

    I’ll continue to write to my lawmakers, but I have to say that my influence on them is null. I’ve contributed to one of them as a private citizen, but apparently, I don’t give enough to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, most of us couldn’t make enough money in a lifetime to be taken seriously by these lawmakers, even if we turned over every cent we made to them. They are on the take, and those who give the most win. Wealthy individuals and huge lobbyist are the winners in this “winner take all” political reality—not concerned citizens.

    What am I going to do about it? I’m going to go out and tend my garden.

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