November 8, 2013; Ocala Star Banner
Given all the coverage the NPQ Newswire has devoted to the issue of “stand your ground” legislation, including not only SYG dimensions of the killing of Trayvon Martin , but also the more recent killing of Jordan Davis and the recent hearing on the subject convened by Senator Dick Durbin, it is worth noting that a bill to repeal Florida’s stand your ground statute was defeated in an 11-2 vote by the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Writing for the Florida News Service, Margie Menzel quotes Florida state representative Jimmie Smith (R-Inverness) to say, “We stand and defend what is ours…‘Stand your ground’ is core to our American way of life.”
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The Florida committee heard lengthy testimony, according to Menzel, evenly divided for and against the repeal legislation. Menzel cited Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders, who the NPQ Newswire has cited for his role in the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and other events, and others who indicated that the stand-your-ground statute makes blacks in the state subject to fear that they could be shot by anyone—for example, an overly aggressive neighborhood vigilante like Zimmerman or an irritated driver like Dunn or anyone who thinks that blacks pose some sort of physical threat to them.
The sponsor of the repeal bill, Alan Williams, a Democratic member of the lower house from Tallahassee, was able to garner no support from other Democratic state legislators as cosponsors. Only two members of the committee, representatives Randolph Bracy (D-Orlando) and Kionne McGhee (D-Miami), both black men, voted for the repeal legislation. The opposition to the repeal legislation was loud, vocal, and bipartisan. The support for the bill was male and black. The racial divide around stand-your-ground laws is becoming more overt all the time.—Rick Cohen