SANTA MARIA - Reaction to the Zimmerman verdict was swift and to the point from the local chapter of the NAACP.
In a prepared statement to the media, Lompoc-Santa Maria Chapter President Lawanda Lyons- Pruitt said she is deeply disappointed with the verdict.
"On almost the eve of the 50th anniversary of the August 24, 1963, March on Washington, I am deeply disappointed that in the greatest country in the world and with our system of justice, we continue to struggle with the 200 year old question that race and poverty still matters. It is TIME NOW for communities across the nation to examine themselves and stop brushing around the subject of race and poverty, as they obviously matter."
"The Santa Maria/Lompoc Branch of the NAACP call on all Americans to remember that Trayvon Martin was a human being, who was shot and bled when shot as any other person who is shot does. He had a family who loved him deeply and his life was cut short. He will not have an opportunity to live the American dream of graduating from high school, attending college, marrying, having children, having the opportunity to own a home, and/or celebrating the birth of grandchildren. All cherished American dreams, cut short because he wore a hoody and was profiled as being in the wrong neighborhood. His death should not be in vain."
"The bottom line was the jury said the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn't in fear of his life", says former FBI agent Dan Payne.
Payne says the case most likely would have had a different outcome if it happened in California because Florida has a much more lenient "stand your ground" law when it comes to using deadly force.
"There's little or no control over who can carry (a gun) there, you just apply for a permit, you're granted the permit and you can carry a concealed weapon", Payne says, "and if you perceive that you are being threatened or endangered you can utilize that deadly force. Here in California if you are in a situation that becomes confrontational, you have exhaust every avenue of flight to avoid the use of deadly force as a civilian."
Payne says a lower burden of proof may result in the family of Trayvon Martin seeking civil damages for his death in court as well as a possible federal civil rights violation case.
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