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Demand Justice For Trayvon Martin: Repeal “Stand Your Ground” Law

Demand Justice For Trayvon Martin: Repeal “Stand Your Ground” Law

It’s been almost four weeks since Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea, was shot to death in Sanford, Florida, by George Zimmerman, a white and Hispanic neighborhood crime watch volunteer armed with a nine millimeter shotgun.

Local prosecutors have not arrested Zimmerman, although the case is now being investigated by the Department of Justice and a Florida state attorney.

How can this be? Why has there been no arrest when no one is contesting that Zimmerman was the murderer?

Stand Your Ground Law Means It’s OK To Use Deadly Force

Cue Florida’s self-defense law. In 2005, Florida became the first state to explicitly expand a person’s right to use deadly force for self-defense.

From Mother Jones:

Florida makes it easy to plead self-defense in a killing. Under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, the state in 2005 passed a broad “stand your ground” law, which allows Florida residents to use deadly force against a threat without attempting to back down from the situation.

According to Mother Jones, Florida courts have found that under the ‘Stand Your Ground’ statute, a “defendant’s only burden is to offer facts from which his resort to force could have been reasonable” while “the State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense.”

In other words, Florida’s self-defense law grants immunity to people who act to protect themselves if they have a reasonable fear they will be killed or seriously injured. And once self-defense is invoked, the burden is on the prosecution to disprove the claim.

You read that right.

“Stand Your Ground is a law that has really created a Wild West type environment in Florida,” said Brian Tannebaum, a criminal defense lawyer in Florida, told The New York Times. “It allows people to kill people outside of their homes, if they are in reasonable fear for their lives. It’s a very low standard.”

24 States Have Sweeping Stand Your Ground Laws

From Pro Publica:

Most states have long allowed the use of reasonable force, sometimes including deadly force, to protect oneself inside one’s home — the so-called Castle Doctrine. Outside the home, people generally still have a “duty to retreat” from an attacker, if possible, to avoid confrontation. In other words, if you can get away and you shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. In Florida, there is no duty to retreat. You can “stand your ground” outside your home, too.

Florida is not alone. Twenty-three other states now allow people to stand their ground. Most of these laws were passed after Florida’s. (A few states never had a duty to retreat to begin with.)

Click here to see a list of the states with laws mirroring the one in Florida, where there’s no duty to retreat in public places and where, in most cases, self-defense claims have some degree of immunity in court. (The specifics of what kind of immunity, and when the burden of proof lies on the prosecution, vary from state to state.)

Take Action

These 24 states make it easy to use self-defense as a claim. Using the “Stand Your Ground” law, anyone can take a shot at another person, claiming that it was in self-defense. And that’s exactly what’s happening in the Trayvon Martin case now.

If you believe that “Stand Your Ground” laws are wrong, please sign our petition, asking Florida legislators to get rid of this outrageous law.

And thank you.

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313 comments

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3:35PM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

The other day while shopping at a local grocery store I saw an hispanic woman about my age with a hoodie on and I wondered: "Will someone think she 'doesn't look right' and shoot her?" Should we not buy clothes with hoodies at all? That could be a problem here in Wisconsin were the weather is cold in fall and winter. In fact that's why the hispanic woman had her hoodie on.

4:08PM PDT on Apr 1, 2012

@Jan H
Race certainly does matter in this and every hate crime. It clearly matters when race is the sole or primary reason for a murder. And Zimmerman can clearly be heard saying "f*cking coons" the tape, and no, he was not saying anything like "f*cking punks". The ck sound can clearly be heard. The very fact that he thought he looked "suspicious... something's wrong with him... he's high on drugs or something.... he's looking about" are all comments that would NEVER have been made if Trayvon were white and I'm white, saying that. I look around frequently at nice houses.....nobody would think that's "suspicious" or ''high on drugs or something". One legal expert said, if anything Zimmerman sounds high on the tape and I thought the same thing, but he was not even examined but Trayvon was and he was clean. Yes, race matters in this and every damn case like it. As far as the Black Panthers are concerned, the $10,000 reward is for a citizen's arrest of a wanton murderer who has not even been arrested 5 weeks after the murder and you say they should be ashamed? You're the one who should be ashamed for saying that. You're either a racist yourself, or incredibly naive or simply don't know the facts.

3:44PM PDT on Apr 1, 2012

It matters not what color Trayvon was, what past indiscretions he's
committed, that he was wearing a hoody, or even whether Zimmerman is guilty of racial profiling or not. What matters is an innocent kid - not carrying a weapon, was gunned down by an adult.

What the people want to know and have a right to know follows...
Why is Zimmerman in hiding? It only adds to our suspicion of his
guilt. Why isn't he explaining his actions to the public? Why did he lie about a bloody head wound and broken nose he claims came from Trayvon? Why is a "neighborhood watch" guy weilding a gun? Why the big cover-up by the authorities? A child is dead! We the people deserve to know who, what, why, where, when and how this took place. How else can we prevent this from happening again if we are not given adequate information as to what went wrong so that we might protect all our children.

It is time to put Mr. Zimmerman on trial and let a jury of his peers determine whether his actions were justified.

And to the New Black Panthers - Shame on you. Neither Malcom X nor
Martin Luther King would approve.

11:51AM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

To the person who wrote privately about why capitalism was being mentioned here on THIS thread, you need to understand Care2 threads proceed from bottom to top. I was responding to Julian. I'm using a smart phone and couldn't seem to respond to you privately.

2:23AM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

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2:22AM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

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5:15PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

I believe in free markets and I believe business practices need to be regulated stringently, but not extensively. I think bailouts are the antithesis of capitalism. Failure is just as important to capitalism as is success.

5:02PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

@Michael A. Just one thing I forgot to ask you. Why do you think that CAPITALISM is not Capitalism in any other form than pure Capitalism? That's not true at all. People can still have the right to become millionaires without doing it at the expense of hurting everybody else. Pure Capitalism is a terribly destructive thing but it can work well if there are reasonable restraints on its abuses. That's what the argument is really about - not whether Liberals are trying to turn American into a socialist state. That's nonsense, but that's the Republicans' accusation. Anyway, I hope I clarified a couple of things and maybe you'll at least think over what I've said. Even if you come to the same conclusion you'll have a better idea of the other side.

4:43PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

@Michael A
Hi, Michael,
From your last remark realize you're not nearly as aggressive and insulting as I thought you were being and I was already thinking that from your previous answer asking me what you were being hypocritical about. Thanks for your honesty about not know much about the subject but that Socialist accusation has been used all too often by people who mean it a lot more aggressively than you did. I'm sorry I called you a "pinhead". But why do you say you're sorry about not having the pure form of Capitalism? Didn't you read the examples I gave about the need for restraints on pure Capitalism? Or do you really believe that slavery was a good thing, workers who die on the job because of no safety laws, people who get sick and die because they can't get health insurance, people who are too old to work should just live in the street because there's no social security, no unemployment insurance,no medicare, no public education.....that's pure Capitalism, Michael. We can differ in the details but is that what you really want? At least give it some thought,O.K.?

4:10PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Thank you for your kind tone, Julian. I think we're better off that way. I don't know too much about this topic. Regarding capitalism, it's too bad we didn't get the pure version. CAPITALISM isn't capitalism in any other form.

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