Not only do I live in Palm Harbor, not only was Brandon murdered in front of the home where I lived for two and a half years (until I moved out to get married and start a family) but I had known Brandon for quite a while. His long-time girlfriend Amy was first a friend and then a coworker for many years. His twin brother Chris dated another friend, and independently from them, I've known their sister Brandy for more than eleven years. It is always expected to call the deceased a good man, but Brandon genuinely was one. He was warm, he was polite, he was hard-working, and he was the nucleus of a group of people who really needed him and loved him. I know this doesn't sound like much, but he never failed to ask me about my son, about my family, always in a way that made me comfortable to go into details, which doesn't usually happen when one dude asks another dude about his child just to fill a gap in the conversation. I have mastered the art of not being seen by acquaintances at the supermarket, mall or sporting events (my loathing of small talk and chit-chat make this necessary) but I never avoided Brandon and actively sought him if I saw him. In short, I thought he was a good man long before his death.
At first sight the killing of Brandon Baker and that of Trayvon Martin don't have a lot in common. Brandon, at 30, was seven years older than his killer, probably a couple dozen pounds heavier, and the same race. But that's where the dissimilarities end. According to news reports, Brandon was driving erratically when Browning, an off-duty security guard (read: wanna-be cop, vigilante, just like Zimmerman) chased after him, presumably to write down his license plate. With the vigilante tailgating him, Brandon pulled over (within sight of the safety of his home, actually on the side road leading to the apartment complex where he lived) and went to confront Browning (who for some reason had also stopped his car. Why? If all he wanted was to get a license plate, why couldn't he just get it and leave?) and was soon joined by his brother Chris, who had been driving behind them the whole time, with Amy in the passenger seat. Instead of just leaving, seeing how he had no business there whatsoever, Browning pepper-sprayed the twins, and then pulled a weapon he was licensed to carry (just like Zimmerman) and shot Brandon, killing him.
Like Zimmerman, Browning was interrogated but never charged. All the information we have of him comes from a previous arrest (h/t @JC_Christian) and he will be cleared by the same stand-your-ground law that has allowed Zimmerman to escape punishment. Let us be clear: Seth Browning sought this conflict, he created it, he invited it, he shot someone and stole a life, yet he is (and will continue to be) a free man. In fact, his freedom is not even in dispute.
This isn't a post meant to highlight that "it happens to white people too, and why isn't CNN covering their story?". Not at all. Trayvon Martin was a child, out on a candy run and on the phone with his young girlfriend, a child that was brutally executed by an animal who will hopefully someday get what he deserves. Brandon was a fully-grown adult
No, this is a post to highlight the insane brutality of the stand-your-ground law, which turns every yahoo with a gun into a potential vigilante, all he (or she, but let's face it: he) has to do is claim he "felt threatened" (a claim as subjective as "it's cold outside" or "purple is my favorite color") and then he can commit murder with impunity. That this law was wholly owned and pushed for by the NRA is so obvious that it barely needs telling.
If you think that these two murders are not enough, check out this other horrifying story, in which a man was shot and killed in front of his eight-year old daughter. Find out why he was killed, by reading the first three paragraphs, and if the reason doesn't send chills up your spine, you are not human. Just like the other two killers, this man waited for police next to the corpse of his executed victim, and was questioned and released.
There cannot be hope for this country while its citizens are being openly slaughtered with impunity and their murderers sheltered by laws passed by pusillanimous cowards wholly owned by the NRA. It's just not possible.