George Zimmerman hasn't even been in jail for a single day and hasn't been found guilty of anything yet (in fact, his trial hasn't even started), yet Jesse Jackson is already trying to use Zimmerman's shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin to push a fondly cherished wish of left-of-center Floridians. That is, he's trying to use the case as a pretext to repeal the "Stand Your Ground" law, which some observers have blamed for Martin's death at Zimmerman's hands.
Laura Flanders of the Nation has video and the full quote in a short blog post:
George Zimmerman was behind bars Wednesday night, forty-five days and countless rallies after he went free after shooting unarmed high school junior Trayvon Martin in a Sanford, Florida, gated community. Zimmerman now faces the possibility of life in prison, but the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has led some of those rallies, says that the mobilizing shouldn't end.
"When Rosa Parks was arrested [for refusing to go to the back of the bus], if we had focused on the bus driver and not on the states’ rights law, we would have missed the point…. We must not just settle for Zimmerman, we must repeal the Stand Your Ground law."
As luck would have it, Reverend Jackson and I were both at Ohio University as the news from Florida came in. Here's what he had to say.
The internal logic of Jackson's statement, comparing the case of the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the case of Trayvon Martin, might not be fully consistent with either. The bus boycott was enacted in order to protest a specifically racist policy, whereas the Stand Your Ground law applies with equal force to whites and blacks, and has no alleged racial motivation behind it. Moreover, Rosa Parks did not die as a result of the bus policy, nor were the bus company employees ever charged with a crime. Either way, it's not clear that the shooting of Trayvon Martin is indicative in any way of a wider trend of racially motivated violence. In fact, it appears to be an isolated incident, which would make it just the opposite.
Is Reverend Jackson distracting from his own cause?