In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley this weekend, Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott was on the defensive. His lack of action for nearly a month after the killing of Trayvon Martin has come under intense scrutiny.
The state level Martin investigation has not seemed like one of his top priorities, even after the public outcry began. As cities across the nation organize “Million Hoodie” rallies and vigils in honor of the slain teenager, Scott seems to be more concerned with other pressing matters.
Adam Weinstein of Mother Jones reported that last week alone, Governor Scott signed legislation requiring drug tests of state employees and signed pro-school prayer legislation; Scott’s attorney general spent the week on Florida’s piece of the Supreme Court case against ‘Obamacare.’ These are not exactly Trayvon Martin-related activities for a governor who claims he’s concerned and on top of the case.
WATCH ‘MORNING JOE’ COVERAGE OF THE TRAYVON MARTIN CASE AND FLORIDA:
Despite the fact that it appears Governor Scott is distracted by other priorities, the governor told CNN his “heart goes out to the [Martin] family,” and Scott also went on to say, “You want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable with public safety in our state. And so as you know, I’ve put together a task force led by my lieutenant governor, who, uh, who’s, uh, African-American. And you know, I’m gonna have different elected officials appoint individuals, but we’ll look at all of it.”
It’s unclear why Scott felt it was necessary to include the fact that he put a black person in charge of the task force conducting a review of the Stand Your Ground law. That African-American lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll has also said little publicly about the case. Carroll’s silence is interesting, to say the least since, Carroll the first African-American to ever win a state wide election in Florida, is the mother of two sons, one who is only about a year older than Trayvon Martin and another who plays for the Miami Dolphins. Commenting on an ongoing investigation is very tricky, but even President Obama commented on the killing from his personal perspective and as a parent.
Carroll’s son could have been Trayvon Martin, had he been in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a wonder that Carroll, who is much closer to the case, hasn’t taken the opportunity to comment and show that the Republican leadership in Florida is on top of things and truly empathizes with the family, and their supporters nationwide.
It’s also possible that Scott’s emphasis on Carroll’s race this weekend is a signal that he intends to use her relationship to the case more strategically going forward. Scott is the least popular governor in the United States. The FAMU hazing scandal was already making news before anyone knew the name Trayvon Martin, and it’s clear that the embattled governor needs every tool at his disposal to help combat the perception that he doesn’t have the concerns of minority communities in mind.
Simply having a black woman as the head of the task force looking into the Stand Your Ground law might not be sufficient in calming those tensions Governor Scott is experiencing in the black community.
The investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin is going to be followed closely, and Governor Scott needs to give the public the impression that he is going to get to the bottom of what happened.
At this point, Scott hasn’t been very reassuring, and seems to have other concerns unrelated to the case. Public pressure on the Republican leadership in Florida is necessary to ensure that the justice done for Trayvon Martin is not just political window dressing.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @zerlinamaxwell