LatinaLista — Though public outrage was loud and clear over the shooting of Treyvon Martin, the shooter, George Zimmerman, was legally protected by Florida's Stand your Ground law until today — when Florida State Attorney Angela Corey announced that her office would be formally charging 2nd degree murder charges against Zimmerman for the shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old. Until now, the law proved effective enough to thwart any immediate justice for the senseless shooting.
In fact, had it not been for the outcry and rage over the shooting, where the evidence seemed to indicate that Zimmerman took it upon himself to follow Martin and confront him, it's highly unlikely the case would have attracted any media attention, let alone an announcement of charges.
Yet, the public understood that this was a murder that should not have happened — law or no law. Can the same be expected from a new law under consideration in Arizona that legally authorizes citizens to act as law enforcement?
Arizona legislators are considering a law that would create and fund an armed militia along the Arizona-Mexico border. SB 1083:
THE ARIZONA SPECIAL MISSIONS UNIT IS ESTABLISHED FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING THE SAFETY AND PROTECTION OF THE LIVES AND PROPERTY OF THE CITIZENS OF THIS STATE. THE INTENT OF THE SPECIAL MISSIONS UNIT IS TO PROVIDE A MISSION-READY VOLUNTEER FORCE FOR USE BY THIS STATE IN HOMELAND SECURITY AND COMMUNITY SERVICE ACTIVITIES AS A SUPPLEMENT TO STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES…
These kinds of militias along the border are not new. The only difference is that now they would actually be sanctioned by a state government. However, a recent double homicide reported by the Pima County Sheriff's department should make Arizona legislators think twice about passing any legislation that authorizes common citizens to take the law into their own hands.
On April 8, 2012, shots were fired on the Eagle Ranch in Eloy, Arizona at a pickup truck carrying "a load" of undocumented immigrants in an area known for smuggling immigrants across the border. When law enforcement arrived, they found two dead undocumented immigrants — 39-year-old Gerardo Perez-Ruiz from Toluca, Mexico and the other from Guatemala.
Some of the immigrants escaped into the desert and others were found hiding in nearby brush. Before being taken into custody by Border Patrol, the surviving immigrants told law officers that the group had been ambushed by an unknown number of people wearing camouflage clothing and armed with rifles. The camouflaged group fired shots at the pickup truck where the two immigrants were fatally struck.
Clearly, these people are part of the makeshift militias patrolling the Arizona/Mexico border claiming to keep the nation safe from the poor, work-hungry immigrants from south of the border. Because they have no official authority to be doing what they're doing, a criminal investigation is underway, or should be underway, to bring these trigger-happy patriots to justice.
But what if SB 1083 was in effect?
Would the lives of these unarmed undocumented immigrants be considered unfortunate casualties?
Would their killers be forgiven by the justice system because they killed "non-citizens"?
Would any amount of public outcry or rage make a difference to a state legislature that refuses to associate humanity with undocumented immigrants?
Would the killing of undocumented immigrants even garner the same amount of public outcry as the case of Treyvon Martin?
If SB 1083 passes, it would serve as yet another sad footnote to the state's history of anti-immigration legislation and put the Latino community on edge waiting for the next incident that allows senseless murders be committed by misguided citizens.