Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton — whose son was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in early 2012 — appeared at a hearing regarding the controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws on Tuesday (Oct. 29) on Capitol Hill. During the hearing, witnesses testified on the self-protection laws, and the hearing focused on the origins of these laws, their impact on the legal definition of self-defense, whether they provoke unnecessary shooting confrontations, and if they encourage racial profiling.
But when it came time for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to speak at the hearing, he informed the still-grieving mother that the laws are not racist, and actually benefit African-Americans as much as, if not more than, they do whites.
Cruz began his speech by offering his condolences for Fulton’s loss, but defended the trial by jury process that found Zimmerman not guilty of murder and went on to further defend that the laws were not used as a defense by Zimmerman.
“The subject of this hearing, the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, was not a defense that Mr. Zimmerman raised,” Cruz said. “So this entire hearing — the topic of this hearing — is not the issue on which that trial turned. We know that some in our political process have a desire to exploit that tragic, violent incident for agendas that have nothing to do with that young man who lost his life. We have seen efforts to undermine the verdict of the jury and, more broadly, to inflame racial tensions that I think are sad and irresponsible.”
Cruz then went on to describe how the earlier testimony against the controversial laws — which had been described earlier in the hearing as not protecting those in the African-American communities who are victims of violent crimes — as incorrect. “A great many African-Americans find themselves victims of violent crime and have asserted this defense to defend themselves, defend their families, defend their children,” Cruz said.
Later, Cruz used President Barack Obama’s support of a similar law as evidence that the “Stand Your Ground” laws are not racially biased. “In 2004 a state senator in Illinois by the name of Barack Obama co-sponsored an expansion of Illinois’ law providing civil immunity for those who use justifiable force to defend themselves,” Cruz said. “The notion that ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are some form of veiled racism may be a convenient political attack but it is not borne out by the facts remotely.”
What do you think of Cruz’s latest speech?