IMPACT

Trayvon Martin Ruling Should Unleash Nonprofit Action

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 26:  Jordan Miller, 10, holds a handmade sign alonside thousands of protesters rallying at the Georgia St
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 26: Jordan Miller, 10, holds a handmade sign alonside thousands of protesters rallying at the Georgia State Capitol in memory of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin on March 26, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Protests have been nationwide in reaction to the death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager whose shooting by a neighborhood watch captain has led to questions of the 'Stand Your Ground' law in Florida and other states. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

The senseless killing of Trayvon Martin and the not-guilty verdict handed down in the case against George Zimmerman send troubling signals about race, justice, and gun violence in America and give fresh urgency to an important agenda for nonprofits and foundations.

America may never see justice for Trayvon Martin, who clearly did nothing that would justify losing his life. But it is up to us in the nonprofit world to find ways to do all we can to counter negative stereotypes in the media and elsewhere that lead people like Mr. Zimmerman to assume a young black man in a hoodie is a criminal. That is a challenge that all nonprofit media organizations, youth groups, and civil-liberties organizations must embrace with new vigor.

Perhaps more important, nonprofits need to work to overturn new laws intended to expand the rights of individuals to claim they are acting in self-defense when they resort to shooting someone in the neighborhood rather than simply retreating from conflict.

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