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March 26th, 2012
10:21 AM ET

Join CNN for our Trayvon Martin Town Hall: "Beyond Trayvon"

The killing of 17-year-old Florida high school student, Trayvon Martin, has captivated the nation. The young man’s death has created an undeniable and important dialogue in this country, and now CNN wants to hear from you. 

This Thursday, March 29th at 8pmET at CNN studios in New York City, we are holding a Trayvon Martin Town Hall – "Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America." “Starting Point” anchor Soledad O’Brien will host, and we want to hear what YOU have to say about this issue. Should people who aren’t police officers take the law into their own hands? Do you believe George Zimmerman should be arrested or not? We are looking to hear all opinions on this story and we want you to be in our studio audience.

For tickets to our studio audience, email with your FULL name, phone number, # of tickets (up to 2), and your question for our panel by Wednesday, March 28th at 9amET. The show tapes in New York City. You must be 18 and older to attend.

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  1. breenewsome


    Section 776.041(2) of the FL statute states that "The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter [stand your ground law] is not available to a person who initially provokes the use of force against him or herself unless (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or (b)In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

    Let's assume that Zimmerman is telling the truth when he says that Trayvon was on top of him, banging his head into the ground. That would mean that Trayvon had both of his hands on Zimmerman's head, so Zimmerman's arms & hands were free. It seems to me that according to the statute, in order for the stand your ground law to apply to Zimmerman, he would have to demonstrate that he "exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death OR great bodily harm to the assailant." You mean to tell me that Zimmerman couldn't with his arms push that skinny boy off of him? He couldn't punch him? He couldn't hit him with the butt of the gun?

    The Florida statute makes clear provisions stating that you can not invoke the stand your ground law if you fight back against a law enforcement officer who is pursuing you (776.051). It also makes it clear that the law enforcement officer is entitled to use necessary deadly force if attacked while pursuing someone (776.05). The existence of that provision to me says that a distinction is to be made between when someone is pursued by a law enforcement officer & when they are pursued by another person. Zimmerman was not a law enforcement officer, therefore he cannot invoke the stand your ground law if Trayvon fought back against his pursuer.

    George Zimmerman is going to prison.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. sweetie

    Black people are always lookin for away out everything all they see is dollar signs which is sad because was they there to see what martin did or said! if he would have broke my nose i probaly would have shot him to...look at all the other cases with white kids and the black bein the suspect dnt here about us marchin the streets and shuting down the schools...

    March 29, 2012 at 2:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Milla

      "Black people" "black people" "BLACK PEOPLE", THAT ALL YOU PEOPLE CAN SAY! "Black people" ruining an "innocent" man's life?!?!?! If he had shot a white child, you're comments would be more along the line of "damn illegals killing innocent white children." I'm not racist, but every time someone uses the term "black people" they are identifying themselves as a racist. Why are you so upset that people are rallying for justice? Are they on your front porch? Are they spending your time and money? Are you a close friend or relative of Zimmer? No? Then shut the hell up! Thank God for loud mouth people like Al Sharpton. How long has rush been on the waves preaching his hatred of every race besides the white without repercussions, claiming it was all in jest and for ratings, until he messed with the wrong white woman? No one is asking for your white guilt, this shouldn't be about color, but it is because of people like you.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Milla

      Also, I don't recall any of the Martin's asking for money. Get your facts straight. You might also want to check the statistics on those types of cases, I'm pretty sure whites lead in personal injury suites.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Thomas

    This was not a race issue until Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton turned it into a focus of their race-baiting agenda. The media has been very irresponsible in reporting this. The picture of Martin that they are showing on TV is from he was younger, reports are of when he was 12. He was 17. Of course it will pull on someone's heart strings seeing a child gunned down. This simply was not the case.
    This turned into a black and white issue when this was reported poorly and the media manipulated the images on TV, creating easy fodder for so-called black leaders. Congratulations for making Sharpton and Jackson media clowns again for their racially dividing agenda. Their was a time and place for them at some point, now is not one of them, and this case isn't it either.
    In the end of the day, this was just another shooting orchestrated the same way it plays out in most major cities daily that we turn a blind eye to. This is not a black and white issue folks, lets not be tricked into thinking otherwise.
    Apparently, even certain members of Congress think they get a free pass by throwing Martin's namesake out and dressing up in a hoodie in the halls of Congress. For those that don't know, you get tossed out for that. How about taking responsibility for your actions instead of blaming someone else? I'm fully aware that our so called "leader", or Commander in Chief Obama offers a poor example of how to take responsibility for any actions, loving to point the finger at others regardless of what situation is on his plate.
    The root of the issue here goes back to proper parenting. Discipline needs to be instilled into children, regardless of what the hippie people who say that this bring violence. Kids today would all benefit from spankings. Martin likely needed one after his suspension from school.

    March 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. B. Blunt

    Some folks are so out of touch with reality. If a man follows and harrasses you is it really so hard to understand why he will get knocked out? He had no uniform, no badge, no identification, no police car, NOTHING! "Who are you?" Would you stop for some random dude telling you to stop and come here? HELL NO! He deserved to get knocked to the ground. If he couldn't defend himself without killing someone, he should've thought about that before he decided to continually harass A KID who was minding his own damn business. Zimmerman created the problem. He created the confrontation. He ignited it all. THAT is why he should arrested. THAT is why we are mad. If someone follows me and around and harasses me I might very well do exactly what Trayvon Martin did, whoop his ass! Is that not self-defense as well? Would I be wrong? Would I deserve to DIE?

    This inspired me to write a song called "Somebody's Baby" because thru all of the controversy we seem to have lost sight of the fact that Trayvon Martin, along with thousands of other youths who are murdered each year, was SOMEBODY'S BABY! LISTEN HERE ->

    March 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Enough Disgrace

      I totally agree but i must say that Trayvon is assumed to have hit this guy. I doubt it...I believe that is Zimmerman's story to make himself look/feel better. Zimmerman created this situation and America is showing black people how they really feel about them not arresting this child murderer!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike

    Any death such as this is tragic. However, the acute rush to judgement while the fact gathering is in process does nothing to help anyone's cause. Did we learn nothing form the Duke University non-rape incident? Everyone should take a deep breath, let the facts and truth be found, and THEN take the appropriate action. The reactions we've had for the last month only broadens the racial chasm.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. MAFV

    We can NO longer allow people to think that the life of a black child is Irrelevent. We must speak out. It's not okay that our children spend years in prison. It's not okay for our children to not get jobs. It's not okay for our children to be excluded from college. It's not okay for our children to get a crappy education. It's not okay for our children to not health care. It's not okay for our children to racially profiled. It's not okay for our children to be killed in drive-by's. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH...........

    March 28, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Enough Disgrace

      God yes! I like how you put this...OUR CHILDREN MATTER!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. MAFV

    Here in San Diego we just had a mother from Iran bludgeoned to death with a crow-bar and it's being said that it's a hate crime. Parts of San Diego in particular Santee is called "Klantee". This is close to where the women was killed.
    My issue is the "denial" piece. There are actually people out there who are in denial that racism in America is alive and well. One of my daughters friends can't find a job, so he's resorting to signing up with the military. It's a travesty when a young black man with a squeaky clean record can't get hired here in San Diego,..uhmmmm..what could it be? Many might say he's not qualified...but he's actually a wonderful young man with tons of potential. I'd hire him in a minute. That's why it's crucially important for people of color to have their own businesses, than we can hire our youth. Entrepreneurship is an opportunity to make a difference in your community. We must arm ourselves financially. Money is always the great equalizer.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Not in touch with the world

      A declining economy and all time high unemployment rates have nothing to do with this.....usually experience is needed and a person with experience would obviously be chosen over one without. But immediately play the race card on that. Such wonderful judgment out there.....

      March 29, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ryden

    For one it will be one sided as usual. Black Racism in 2012 is at the level they claimed white racism was at in 1950. For one the host is racist against Euro-Americans- white by racist terms. They always have sharp tongue and jack-ass that are stuck in a time frame and reviving hate. While the quote "White" community has surpased racism the black community keeps bringing it up because equality is a bitch. If numbers aren't forged then these so called people pimping Gods name have to get a job and work for a living like everyone else. Here is an example. A "White" police officer has to respond to a black neighborhood for 911 help. He arrives at scene at first thought by blacks is he is white and it is a money opportunity. Totally profiling him. The officer is sees someone needs help. And blatant Racism is the racist group that put a bounty out. The President needs to address this gang of thugs and have Marshalls move in on them. I say with these idiots lets just go to war and divide the country then everyone will have to own up.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse | Reply

    Trayvons case is only the tip of the ice berg ,that Divides Blacks and Whites. as a nation we are further apart than we have ever been on race relations.we as a country lacks respect for each other. we let our kids follow certain fades then the public buys into that Lable (False Information about wearing a Hoodie)as a society we let mis information be our guide. this was Murder ,and any way you Slice it or Dice it. it will still be COLD BLOODED MURDER.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mike

    I am saddened that this happened and that a young man is dead. However I am more saddened that people want to jump to conclusions. If Trayvon attacked Zimmerman "just because he was following him" than that child was in the wrong, and if Zimmerman "feared for his life" after getting his nose broken and head slammed on the ground by an unknown assailant then he was in the right to pull his weapon and eliminate the threat. Bottom line.. Kids these days run around and think they owe no person respect, this people is what is wrong with America. When our children are so entitled and out of place that because someone is following them at night they attack them we are doing something wrong. Its time people wake up and start parenting their children period.
    To the Media, well shame on you, where are your reports of the 13 year old WHITE kid who was set on fire by the 2 BLACK kids? This is a move made by the Media to move our attention away from more pressing issues. This is a goal of the Obama administration, they want our country divided and in-fighting, that way we are blind to the injustices that are happening in Washington DC to blind eyes. WE ARE DOOMED IF WE HAVE OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT ANOTHER 4 YEARS!

    March 28, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lavoun


      I am interested to understand the view points of those who feel that Zimmerman was justified in killing Trayvon because he may have fought with him. Firstly, Zimmerman is not a police officer! If your child or family member was being followed by a stranger, then confronted by a stranger would they have the right to defend themselves? Does self defense go both ways? If you feel threatened because someone is following you do you have the right to "stand your ground?" The details of this case are sketchy, but the facts are clear. He shot an unarmed young man. The world will be watching to see if our elected officials can correct an injustice because if not justifiable homicide will take on a whole new meaning. If you're losing a fist fight it's okay to kill the person who is by the way not in your house, not on your property and simply was walking down the street. As far as your prospective on the "goal of Obama" it further expounds on your view of this case which shows that you are one of those individuals who is always looking for an excuse or someone to blame–no doubt a Republican characteristic.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Enough Disgrace

      STAY ON POINT MIKE. This story isn't about our President and people like you are the reason conversations get muddied. This was a child and this man was no authority figure so he is wrong whether he was hit or not. My son is taught to run, kick scream and or hit anyone trying to approach him unknown/stranger-like. So that gives a paranoid individual the right to attack? Hell no. He or she should stay in their lane and take appropriate action, not pull weapons. Glad I am not your neighbor...

      March 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • LORA cOLLA

        Too bad he just didn't wound the kid-then maybe the truth would come out and black people would not be ruining innocent lives in Sanford right now and the whold town could get back to their everyday lives.

        March 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rich

    If the good people of Florida want justice, use this solidarity on election day and vote out all the rich republicans in office and put some democratic leaders in the Governor's mansion, State Attorney's office and all Senate and House seats. Only then will we see justice. Vote for whomever is running against the incumbent, because We The People have lived through too much here in Florida and are ready for a change. I pray for Trayvon Martin and his family and friends. Somewhere out there lurks a murderer because of our elected officials. Haven't we all had enough?

    March 28, 2012 at 5:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. el

    Most people find it easier to “do something” when the something is trying to get someone else to change. Blacks are forever blaming white people for black people’s problems. This has been made into a black-white issue, when in fact Zimmerman would be considered Hispanic in any other situation. There always seems to be some incident that is blown out of proportion by black leaders and the media regardless of the facts or without knowing the facts first – every year. But where were the black leaders and throngs of outraged blacks, when a black child was shot recently in a Minneapolis black neighborhood by a stray bullet? There was a demonstration locally, but only a small group of people showed up – no big name black leaders or national spotlight by the media. Black neighbors interviewed said that there were sounds of shots fired all the time in the black neighborhood. Where is the national outrage for that child? Silence because it couldn’t be made into a race baiting media circus. Blacks really need to step up and take the responsibility for themselves once and for all. People are really tired of the blame-game toward whites. Whose responsibility was Trayvon’s escalating troubles before this incident?

    March 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mr. B

    This form justice is active across the USA and not only in Florida. Its been all time coming we all a people should protest if something is wrong in our community. It seem that each state in the USA is a country within a country. Thw laws of this this country should be for all states there in. In our words, each state shouldn't make or modify a law that already exist. Murder is murder no matter who or why its done. Thou shall not murder.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Karen Moore

    Help me out with this one. If I am afraid of someone I am not going to chase them. George Zimmerman sounds as mixed up and assorted as a bag of skittles.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. wilkesbarrewriters

    It's a good thing that people are standing up for what they believe in–like the Occupiers, the Tea Partyers and now those who seek justice for Trayvon Martin. But what about the implications of 'eye-for-an-eye' that are between the lines in the messages of some? Isn't it best to rein in our emotions and trust in our legal system? Is it even possible given the nature of the incident?

    March 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. wilkesbarrewriters

    It's a good thing that people are standing up for what they believe in–like the Occupy Movement, the Tea Partyers and those who want justice for Trayvon Martin. It's a bad thing, however, when people threaten to take the law into their own hands, implying that violence-eye for an eye–settles anything. My question is this: should we reign in our emotions and redirect our concern towards "justice" and show trust in our legal system–or is this even possible, given the nature of the circumstances?

    March 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Paqrio

    Why are we allowing a neighborhood watch person to stalk a citizen walking home. Is it because he was black wearing a hoodie in the rain. Since when is there a law that you can’t walk home and not be harassed. Why is it that some whites think its ok to stalk a black kid and kill him and make a HERO out of the person killing him. If Zimmerman would get a LIFE, this kid would be alive. I want to know where is Travon RIGHTS to defend himself when its clear that he was the one being stalked. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows a threatened person to use force to defend themselves. I think the law should apply for Travon too . no one is talking about his rights, poor zimmerman was gettibg his $#@#$#@ kicked ,boo hoo. He should have been the one getting killed. The man is a stalker, who’s next your kid. The zimmerman in the rest of the world need to be rein in. There was no reason to stalk this kid. There were no homes broken into, no cars broken into. Simply put a gun toting maniac wanted to show this kid I have a gun and I want to shoot someone. I have a concealed gun license and I treat it like everyone else has one too weather they are lawful or not . Its idiots like this that will get the concealed license banned. If he thought there was a problem call the police and leave it alone Travon has the right to walk home just like Zimmerman has the right to live in this neighborhood, Its clear to me Zimmerman needs to be arrested for stalkin and creating a violent situation so he could use deadly force. I don’t care if this kid him him first he created a situation where this Kid has the right to defend HIMSELF from a stalker. And why is it that we want to say oh well this kid, Travon was expelled because of weed residue Police advised him to stay back but he approached Martin. A confrontation ensued and Zimmerman shot Martin. The teen was unarmed and simply returning from a quick trip to a nearby convenience store.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Raymon Owens

    I feel from my reading and observation that Zimmerman was stalking and profiling Trayvon.
    Just another case of injustice, This man should have been arrested. He is guilty of murder.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  19. ricky penn

    can the "stand your ground law" also apply to Trayvon Martin in this case since he was pursued by Mr. Zimmerman?

    March 27, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • BRB

      That's a great question. Trayvon had a legal right to be where he was and he had every right to defend himself if Zimmerman was the aggressor.

      March 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Tia

    That is excellent,highly favorible concept,"Beyond Trayvon – Race and Justice in America". Bravo CNN and Soledad O'Brien for your non – bi'as, outstanding media coverage, of the Trayvon Martin, case! And it's marvelous your giving the pop'ulace. It could only get even better and bigger,if someway you could take questions from people via various Networking systems, for those whom can't make it to your New York studio's, yet still have something profound to say/add. None the less, keep up your excellence, it certainly shows. I know, I watch your program Starting Point daily,like a second,religion! And Soledad O'Brien is a major reason, I stay tuned, she appears,percise,polite and extremely personable. Hence not merely a face,yet intelligent,delivering and maintaining the peoples interest,in current events,that effects our lives and our world!

    March 27, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gerard

      non-biased? are you kidding me? Sol OB doesnt know the first thing about objective reporting.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  21. john

    why won't the police release the results of a polygraph test in the Trayvon Martin case.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
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