The Kappa Mu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and SHSU chapter of the NAACP put on a George Zimmerman mock trial in an effort to inform people about Stand Your Ground Laws in the criminal justice courtroom on Monday.
Stand Your Ground Laws, or Texas’ Castle Doctrine, are laws put in place to provide protection to those who use deadly force in acts of self-preservation.
According to Texas Legislature Senate Bill 378, persons have the right to self-defense by deadly means when feeling threatened in their habitation, vehicle, work place or instances of immediate harm.
As for the Stand Your Ground Law, the law protects the people in defending in any place.
The program informed the audience with statistics of the increase in homicides since the passing of these laws as well as related instances Florida residents are facing involving the law, including Jordan Davis and Marissa Alexander.
Junior Shanece Smith, who played witness Rachel Jeantel, said the program’s purpose was for people to have more knowledge about the laws.
The program accomplished its goal, some said.
“I felt educated,” senior criminal justice major Cyd-Cherise Reed said after the program. “It helps people understand different laws in different states and how [the nation] can’t get mad how the jury picked.”
To assist the audience in learning the laws, the presenters appealed to the audience’s emotion through the use of Trayvon Martin’s case, since most people are familiar with it.
This didn’t settle well with all people.
People on social networks ridiculed the mock trial. One Instagram user took a picture of the mock trial poster commenting, “Is this a joke?… #sorelosers.”
But it didn’t stop them from presenting the case.
The case was opened with the mock defense attorney, Jalen Craig, making a “knock-knock” joke used by Zimmerman’s actual attorney Don West.
The joke was used in the actual case to clear biased opinions but came across as distasteful to viewers.
“Before, we actually didn’t put in the script but we added to it later on,” NAACP President Le’Antranell Gibson said. “It wasn’t a funny situation.”
The reenactment condensed the trial to 15 minutes, including the highlights of the trial, Smith said.
Gibson led the program by mediating discussion after the case was put to recess.
She asked questions such as, ‘Was Zimmerman rightfully let go?’ and opened the floor to discussion.
Audience members plugged in their opinion on the case and made sure to disclaim race from being the biggest issue.
“Race plays factor, but I really don’t want to make it black vs. white,” audience member Stephani Brown said. “The defense did not prove its case.”
The audience was then allowed to text in their vote if Zimmerman was guilty or not.
Zimmerman was found guilty in a majority vote of 37-3 by the mock jurors at the end of the simulation.