By Rep. Darrio Melton
People across the country are shocked, confused and angry following the jury’s not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Regardless of the emotions elicited by the death, trial and verdict, the US Justice System was put to work and the jury has spoken. We can be angered by their decision, but we can not call the jury back to change their minds.
What we can do is work together to get justice for Trayvon. We can make sure this 17-year-old child did not die in vain.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Alabama ranks third in the nation for deaths due to injury from firearms, while our gun ownership rate is estimated at around 57.2 percent. Currently, Montgomery is investigating its 30th homicide this year, and Birmingham is ranked the fifth most deadly city in the nation.
In 2011, more than 11,000 homicides could be attributed to guns. The NRA is bragging that gun ownership is at an all-time high.
It is up to us to make sure these numbers do not continue to climb.
We must unite to make our streets safer, to make our schools less violent and to reduce the hold that gangs have on children in poverty. We have to encourage our children to stay in school, to stay away from violence and to stay close to positive role models.
We have to work to teach compassion and understanding so our children can resolve conflict without resorting to guns and violence. While we have to ensure that no Trayvon Martin ever senselessly dies again, we also must ensure that no George Zimmerman ever senselessly resorts to violence again.
We must work together to bring an end to the violence. That’s how we can provide justice for Trayvon.