Sanford, Florida. Laveen, Arizona.
Two American cities that have burst into the consciousness of the nation.
A white, Hispanic 28 year old man shoots a 17 year old black teen in Sanford. A 22 year old black man shoots a retarded 29 year old white Hispanic in Laveen.
Both states have so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws.
In Sanford, the police investigated, concluded that no crime had been committed and did nothing for two months.
In Laveen, police are still investigating the incident, which occurred on April 3, 2012. They have not released the name of the person who did the shooting.
In Sanford, the family of the deceased, Trayvon Martin, demanded that the man who shot Trayvon, George Zimmerman, be prosecuted.
Their pleas have been heard across the land. Civil rights activists Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have spoken out in support of the Martin family. So have many others. Celebrities. Politicians.
The President of the United States weighed in saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.”
The Attorney General of the United States also weighed in, telling a gathering of 150 black ministers that there would be ‘prompt action’ on the Trayvon Martin case.
As the storm of protest escalated, Sanford Police Chief, Bill Lee, went on extended leave and State’s Attorney Norm Wolfinger took himself off the case.
Florida Governor Rick Scott stepped in and appointed Jacksonville State’s Attorney Angela Corey to investigate the shooting. Ms. Corey signed a warrant for Zimmerman’s arrest on the charge of second degree murder.
The nationwide clamor on behalf of Trayvon Martin has made him the poster boy for a number of causes. Gun control. Racial profiling. Repeal of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws.
By contrast, the shooting of Daniel Adkins in Laveen has garnered very little attention. None of the major daily newspapers, including the New York Times, have mentioned the Adkins case.
Adkins’ family, like Trayvon Martin’s, have demanded justice. They want the man who killed Daniel to be prosecuted.
Their pleas have been ignored. No rallys. No avalanche of blogs, Tweets and Face Book videos.
Nothing from the White House or the Department of Justice.
So far, at least, none of the activists who rail against Stand Your Ground, have pointed to the Adkins killing as another example of why the law should be repealed.
The Arizona “Stand Your Ground” law, like that of Florida and more than two dozen other states, specifies that a person may use deadly force to protect himself or herself from an attacker who poses a threat of serious bodily harm.
In the weeks and months ahead, the details of these two shootings will come to light. What we have heard up until now, is the second hand report of what the surviving shooter told the police.
If the actual testimony echoes those reports, the contrast between the incidents will be substantial and critical.
Zimmerman is alleged to have told police Trayvon Martin attacked him physically, breaking his nose with a punch to the face, and continuing to slam his head on the ground.
The unnamed Arizona shooter is said to have reported that Adkins struck the car in which he and his girl friend were sitting, with a pipe or similar weapon.
Whether either of those two incidents involved an assault by the deceased which reasonably would have put the shooter in fear for his life remains to be seen.
Whatever the result, the credibility of the American system of criminal justice will be tested.