In the March for Our Lives, don't forget Trayvon Martin

Students of all ages last week joined their courageous and eloquent peers from Parkland, Florida in protest. They are...

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 2:00 PM
Updated: Mar 20, 2018 2:00 PM

Students of all ages last week joined their courageous and eloquent peers from Parkland, Florida in protest. They are showing us that the damage from school shootings is not only the tragic loss of young lives, but also the pervasive fear that exists in modern American schools, where "active shooter" drills embed terror the way that "duck and cover" once did.

As the anger and frustration of this school shooting generation resonate across the country, these students give us hope that maybe, just maybe, their growing national movement will finally loosen the literally life-crushing grip that the gun lobby has on our politics.

But while the debate over how to end school shootings is essential and overdue, we must remember that this is not the first time that gun violence in Florida has sparked a national movement -- and that the concerns of that movement have not yet been fully addressed.

In 2012, a brave and eloquent group of young black Floridians calling themselves the Dream Defenders staged extensive and persistent protests of the state's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law. The law allows the use of deadly force in public when used in self-defense -- even if retreating to avoid using force is possible -- and became a focus of outrage after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager. The hashtag #blacklivesmatter was first used to organize following Zimmerman's acquittal, planting the seed for the national movement that followed.

The Black Lives Matter protests captured the anger and frustration of communities that have long endured an unequal risk of violence and the injustice of discriminatory public policies, like stop and frisk, that often increase rather than mitigate that risk. With repeated exposure to shocking videos of unjust killings followed by little accountability, many white Americans unfamiliar with that reality developed a new, visceral connection to the fear and pain that many people of color have always lived with.

For some, it was their first encounter with "the talk" that parents feel compelled to have with their black children. For others, the stories of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and Walter Scott gave new depth to the phrase "driving while black." But far too many others remained unaccepting of the lessons that were being offered. It is a failure of empathy that has lethal consequences on a daily basis.

The Dream Defenders were unable to marshal the political power necessary to get Stand Your Ground repealed in Florida. To the contrary, the Florida legislature, pressed by the same pro-gun special interests that today are calling for arming teachers, added a requirement for prosecutors to negate the defense at a pretrial hearing, creating a unique level of protection for those accused.

In the years immediately after the original law was passed in 2005, the number of homicides ruled legally justifiable in Florida increased by 75%, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine -- and, crucially, defendants were more likely to go free if the victim was black.

Across America, even with the steady increase in school shootings, the statistics surrounding gun deaths remain constant: the majority of the country's mass shootings are acts of domestic violence, and at least 52% of women killed by guns are killed by an intimate partner or family member; 62% of firearms deaths are suicides; and roughly 50% of the victims of homicides where a gun was used are black men.

Addressing the diversity of harms created by guns will require a complex suite of interventions tailored to the specific risks. Yes, in virtually all instances part of the solution is limiting access to weapons for those most likely to do harm. But limiting mass school shootings also requires understanding and addressing the disaffection of the mostly white young men who carry them out, and the psychology of fame and repetition that contributes to their actions.

Decreasing deaths from handguns will involve technological innovations to make guns safer and more traceable, programs to decrease the general risk of violent conflict, and improved interventions for those at risk of suicide. And reducing the use of excessive force by police will come with changes in training, policing practices, and standards for legal liability.

The common thread to all of these challenges is the collection of organizations that lobby to oppose virtually every technological and legislative innovation that might reduce the harm caused by guns. They have stood as a wall that has consistently deflected every tragedy-powered wave of protest.

I am hopeful that this new wave of student-led mobilization will finally breach that wall. Our country will be far better and safer for it. But if, together, we are able to create room for real innovations on gun safety, let's not also repeat past mistakes. Let's ensure that the communities that suffer the greatest toll from gun violence are integral to the development of solutions. As the movement looks forward to the March for Our Lives rallies against gun violence on March 24, let's insist that black lives matter, too.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20772248
Hinds19888408
Harrison17489302
Rankin13311275
Jackson13097243
Madison9895210
Lee9856169
Jones8290160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7187237
Lowndes6262144
Lamar610584
Lafayette6027117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4419139
Warren4280118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403675
Neshoba3987176
Lincoln3869108
Hancock372085
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3180104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265779
Wayne261341
Leake261073
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120041
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81823
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 80°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 73°
A cold front will move into our area during our Tuesday. This front will bring some chances for some rain and isolated thunderstorms for our Tuesday night. Some of the activity will linger in our area into our Wednesday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather