Trayvon Martin was unarmed and only 17 years old in 2012 when he was shot by 28-year-old “neighborhood watch captain” George Zimmerman. When Zimmerman was acquitted on the basis of “self-defense” using Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, it sparked nation-wide protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The tragedy also sparked his mother, Sybrina Fulton, into an unexpected life of activism and now politics. Over the weekend, Fulton announced her campaign for a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.
“Our county must continue moving forward so our families are safe from violence, can afford to live in Miami-Dade, and have access to good paying jobs,” she said in a statement released on Saturday. “I am ready to take on these issues and many others in county government.”
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Fulton will run a campaign based not on banning guns entirely, but on tightening background checks for weapons and restricting private gun sales. She could garner a lot of support, particularly from other women of color, if the 2018 midterm elections are any indication of voter turnout. In Florida, 1.4 million women of color voted in the midterms, representing 17 percent of all voters in the state.
Fulton will be running against Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert for the seat in District 1. Miami-Dade’s entire county commission is facing turnover because five seats total are up for grabs after Miami-Dade voters approved a two-term limit for the 13-member board in 2012.
Fulton’s announcement comes at a tense time for the state of Florida – in early May, Florida’s legislature passed a bill that allows teachers to carry guns in the classroom. All the teachers have to do to carry a weapon around children is pass a 144-hour training course.
Critics have pointed out the obvious potential problems – teachers misfiring and harming a student or law enforcement mistaking an armed teacher for the shooter.