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More than 1,000 Rally Against the ‘Stand Your Ground’ in Florida By Aldranon English II

March 18, 2014

More than 1,000 Rally Against the ‘Stand Your Ground’ in Florida
By Aldranon English II

stand your ground march signs

Protesters carried signs showing recent victims. PHOTO: Aldranon English II/Capital Outlook

standyourgroundpeople

More than a thousand took to the streets, representing opposition to 'stand your ground' laws across the country. PHOTO: Aldranon English II/Capital Outlook

standyourgroundsharpton

Among leaders of the march were the Rev. Al Sharpton and the parents of Trayvon Martin - Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. PHOTO:Aldranon English II/Capital Outlook 

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Capital Outlook Newspaper

(TriceEdneyWire.com) - Rev. Al Sharpton and several renowned activists led a march of hundreds to the Florida State Capitol last week to protest Florida’s self-defense doctrine notoriously known as the “Stand Your Ground” law. Among the participants were the parents of slain teenagers Trayvon Martin, Kendrick Johnson and Jordan Davis.

Family members of Emmitt Till, who was murdered at 14 years-old during the 1950s, were also on hand. They joined family members of:  Fruitvale Station victim Oscar Grant III, Air Force veteran Michael Giles and recently released mother of three Marissa Alexander – who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a gun near her estranged husband.

The event beckoned many influential figures including radio personalities Tom Joyner and Joe Bullard. Others included Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, City of Tallahassee Commissioner Andrew Gillum, local attorneys Benjamin Crump and Daryl Parks along with Florida A&M University Student Government President Elect Tonette Graham.

Florida law dictates that people, not involved in illegal activity, have the right to stand their ground and meet force with force – including deadly force, if they reasonably believe it is necessary to avoid death or great bodily harm. Florida Rep. Corrine Brown states that the law has done more harm than good in several states including Florida.

“In 2005, Florida passed the expansion of ‘Stand Your Ground’ to 24 other states,” said Brown. “Since its expansion, the law is like a cancer that needs to be eradicated.”

Brown strongly urged the community to participate in the committee meetings later that day as well as the upcoming elections in November. 

“You have to march over to the committee meetings as well to the voting polls,” said Brown. “Florida is ‘stuck on stupid,’ you have to show up people in Tallahassee and you have to represent on a daily basis.”

Rep. Alan Williams states that self-defense laws were already in place before “Stand Your Ground,” but understands the importance of changing the aggressor language portion of the law.

“As members of the Legislature, we cannot appeal it outright now, but we are going to repair it,” said Williams.

Williams stressed the significance of the march and the goal at hand for the community as well as for the entire nation.

“This would have been the first year for Trayvon and Jordan to be allowed to vote,” said Williams. “Don’t just march because it is Monday, don’t just march because it is in the moment. March because it is a movement,” said Williams. “It is a movement that makes certain our community is better and safer for our families, friends and loved ones.”

Several individuals participating in the march held signs and banners that stated “Standing Our Ground” and wore T-shirts that read “We are not a threat.” Baltimore's Pastor Jamal Bryant’s message reverberated throughout the streets near the state Capitol as he spoke about the mission of the rally.

“We have not come today for a march. We came here for a rescue mission,” said Bryant. “We are here trying to locate the missing pieces so that our children can walk the streets peacefully without fear.”

Rev. R. B. Holmes, of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, plans to file a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida concerning the stand your ground law. Holmes along with Bryant plan to enforce a pastoral task force to repeal and repair the self-defense law across the country.

Sharpton stressed the attention and ramifications the march will gain from all of the public figures that were present but made certain that their attendance should not be the focus of their cause.

“We are here to help illuminate,” said Sharpton. “We did not come here to supplant. We came here to support.”

Sharpton explained that the stand your ground law is fundamentally unjust during the march.

“To have laws that tell people that they can shoot first and then ask questions later is a violation of our civil rights. I believe that law is inherently wrong,” said Sharpton. “The law in effect says based on your imagination – if you imagine I am a threat – you have the right to kill me.”

Sharpton concluded the assembly with inspirational words that left many participants charged and ready to act on change.

“Nothing we have achieved was given to us,” said Sharpton.  “We had to fight for it then, and we will fight for it now.”

The protesters planned to attend House and Senate criminal justice committees in hopes of telling lawmakers they want them to consider action on the law.

 
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