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National debate sparked by Neighborhood Watch captain shooting teen

As reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette, a violent crime far from here is causing heated debate across the nation.

The shooting took place in a suburb of Orlando, Florida. A neighborhood watch captain shot Trayvon Martin as he was walking home from a convenience store. Both Florida and Colorado have Stand Your Ground laws where a person can defend himself or herself, but Florida allows those who feel their lives are in danger to defend themselves -- with deadly force -- outside the home. Colorado does not.

The neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, was released after he told police that he shot Martin in self-defense.

Part of the contentiousness of the issue is cause by the fact that Martin was a young, unarmed African American.

Zimmerman alleges he was defending himself in an altercation with the teenager.

Activists from Colorado Springs say that Zimmerman should be arrested, and they claim that if something like the shooting happened here, Zimmerman would already be behind bars.

A Colorado Springs police neighborhood watch coordinator stated that neighborhood watch coordinators train people to watch and call the police, not to confront the alleged criminal.

The president of the Colorado Springs NAACP said that the issue is race-related. She said that the Florida case "shows how bias can end in tragedy." NAACP is also calling for Zimmerman's arrest.

According to some sources, Martin did not live in the neighborhood, and was reportedly visiting his father's fiancée. The neighborhood where the shooting took place is gated.

There is apparently a witness who says Martin started the altercation and that Zimmerman was yelling for help as Martin was punching him. A recently released police video shows Zimmerman with no obvious injuries or blood stains as he entered a police station after the shooting.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette: "Killing of Florida teen sparks conversation in Springs," March 23, 2012

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