The 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida left many wondering about race, the right to bear arms and Florida’s stand your ground law. In the aftermath of the shooting and George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict , some Americans still had unanswered questions. Wednesday’s (July 17) “RapFix Live” attempted to offer some perspective and suggestions on how to move forward.
Wyclef Jean, Prodigy, president of non-profit BK Nation and defense attorney Stacey Richman sat with MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway to discuss the fallout from Saturday’s controversial jury decision.
At the end of the show, Wyclef performed his Trayvon-dedicated single, “Justice (If You’re 17),” but before that, he urged frustrated youth to get involved in local politics and use their right to vote to help change the laws that could’ve changed the outcome of the trial.
“Are we really pushing the right laws in our communities? Are you really voting for the right senator in your community? Are you voting for the right mayor?” he questioned.
After “RapFix” audience member asked ’Clef how he will use his celebrity voice to fight for the cause, he messaged that the power is within the people. “The real celebrity is you… you authorize me and you give me the power and you make me famous and you are millions,” he explained. “So imagine if you took that same energy and decided that you want to go change a law in congress. The power is not in the celebrity… the power is in the numbers and the communities.”
Kevin Powell rose to fame as a castmember of the first season of MTV’s “The Real World.” Since then, he has used his voice as a journalist and political activist to fight for civil rights. He and his BK Nation organization helped put together a protest in New York City on Sunday, following the announcement of Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict. “What should young people do? We should challenge ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), who has been responsible in those 20 states putting forth stand your ground laws from Florida to Texas,” he urged. “Y’all got to descend on Florida and say until these laws are repealed we’re not leaving this state.”
Stacey Richman is a veteran, New York-based defense attorney who has represented Lil Wayne and Ja Rule in high-profile criminal cases. She helped “RapFix” by running through the legal process, though she did point out that state laws work differently depending on where you practice. She believed that the jury did their job, but does acknowledge that there is a deep moral issue with the verdict and like Wyclef and Powell, she urges young people to get out and make a change in their government.
“We’re dissatisfied from this verdict because it doesn’t feel right, but the jury did their job,” she said. “They followed the jury instructions; that’s what they did, but you need to be involved in the process.”