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PSA against “Stand Your Ground” uses Zimmerman 911 audio

Posted by Tom Megginson | 20-08-2013 15:43 | Category: Violence


The shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has proven to be a polarizing event in American culture, touching as it does on issues of racism, gun control, and general fear of crime.

In the darkness of the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was confronted by George Zimmerman in the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying. A neighbourhood watch coordinator for the community, Zimmerman apparently believed Martin, who was black, was acting suspiciously. Zimmerman called 911, and while he was instructed not no pursue the youth, he did. Zimmerman was armed. An altercation ensued, which ended with the unarmed Martin shot dead.

This PSA is a reenactment, with original audio from two 911 calls:

Florida is one of 26 states with a “stand your ground” law, which allows armed individuals to shoot someone they feel is threatening their personal safety, even if they have a reasonable option to flee. Zimmerman initially claimed the protection of this law, but later changed his testimony to claim he was physically attacked and reacted in a more standard definition of self-defence. On July 13, 2013, a jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges. Martin’s mother and others have called for the repeal of the state’s “stand your ground” law.

From the campaign site:

The traditional presumption in the law—from the advent of the Hebrew Bible through the creation of Roman law, English common law, and American law—has been that if you could spare human life, it was incumbent upon you to do so.

With “Stand Your Ground” (aka “Shoot First”) laws, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its partners in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have turned 3,000 years of jurisprudence on its head. Now you can provoke a fight, and if losing that fight, kill the person you attacked.

The NRA’s laws represent a dangerous and unprecedented escalation in the use of force in the public space, allowing individuals to kill when they merely fear “great bodily harm” (i.e., a fistfight, shoving match, etc.). The concept of responding with proportional force has been obliterated. Additionally, “Stand Your Ground” laws remove the duty to retreat from a conflict in public, allowing individuals to shoot and kill even when they could otherwise walk away safely from an altercation.

It seems a little odd that a case in which “Stand Your Ground” was not actually tested in court should be the example for this particular campaign. But perception is king, and most Americans likely associate Trayvon Martin with the issue more easily than Jordan Davis or Darrell Niles. Nonetheless, I think the idea that “Stand Your Ground” emboldens armed civilians like Zimmerman to draw their guns in (possibly racist) panic is the real point worth making.

Thanks to Ivan of Ads of The World for the tip!

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Narrow Margin Films
Additional credits:
(Via Ads of The World)

Director: Floyd Russ
Copywriters: Marques Gartrell, Kim Nguyen, Floyd Russ
Executive Producer: Adam Palmer
Associate Producers: Cassie Novick, Mike Lobikis, Keely Davenport, Emily Darby
Account Director: Cassie Novick
Art Director: Marques Gartrell
Copywriter: Kim Nguyen
Director of Photography: Josh Fisher
Steadicam: Billy Green
Assistant Director: Adam Murphy

Post Production: Final Cut
President: Stephanie Apt
Executive Producer: Lauren Bleiweiss
Editor: Sonejuhi Sinha
Assistant Editor: Dan Berk
Senior Producer: Viet-An Nguyen
Finishing Producer: Alek Rost
Online/VFX: Cecil Hooker
Graphics: Phil Brooks
Sound Design & Mixing: T. Terressa Tate
Color: Color Collective @ Final Cut
Colorist: Alex Bickel
Music by Future Perfect Music
Composer: Victor Magro

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