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Following the Currents that Guide Florida's Future
What is your reaction to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, and to Florida's Stand Your Ground law? Should it be repealed?
Rich Bard's picture
Rich Bard
Trayvon Martin, 17, was fatally shot on Feb. 26 by a Neighborhood Watch volunteer who pursued the teen as he walked home from a convenience store. In not charging George Zimmerman, Sanford police cited Florida's Stand Your Ground law, passed by the Legislature in 2005 and signed into law by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. The killing has sparked protests across the country. We've rounded up statements given by many, but now we want to hear from you. What's your reaction?
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
speaking to the Dallas Morning News after an education panel at the University of Texas at Arlington

This [Stand Your Ground] law does not apply to this particular circumstance. Stand your ground means stand your ground. It’s doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back. Anytime an innocent life is taken it's a tragedy.  You've got to let the process work.

John Timoney
former police chief of the City of Miami and ex-deputy police commissioner in New York, writing in The New York Times
The second part of the law — "stand your ground" — is the most problematic. Until 2005, in all 50 states, the law on the use of force for civilians was pretty simple. If you found yourself in a situation where you felt threatened but could safely retreat, you had the duty to do so. ... But "stand your ground" gives citizens the right to use force in public if they feel threatened. As the law emphatically states, a citizen has “no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground." ... Retreating is always the best option. ...
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida can make all Floridians proud by being the first governor to reject and repeal such misguided laws.
Gainesville Sun
An editorial
Are there times a citizen is genuinely threatened? Of course. But "Stand Your Ground" makes it too easy for misunderstandings to become tragedies.
In the Sanford case, the agonizing likelihood is that disaster could have been averted if [George] Zimmerman had simply left law enforcement to the police.
State Rep. Dennis Baxley
sponsor of the legislation that became Florida's Stand Your Ground law, as quoted in The Tampa Tribune
This is about the application of [the Stand Your Ground] law. The first thing I thought of when news came out about this is that there's nothing in the statute that authorizes pursue and confront. That's a disqualifying factor.When a law-abiding citizen is confronted with attack, he should be able to defend himself. But [George Zimmerman] was told by police he shouldn't pursue. Once he did that, he was on thin ice as far as this statute is concerned.
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale)
An editorial

This is a matter for law enforcement agencies and the courts to decide, not us. But if any good is to come out of this awful and senseless tragedy, it should be a deep review of Florida's gun laws, including Stand Your Ground. We respect the Second Amendment, but Florida has a record of gleefully locking and loading into law just about every gun-friendly idea that comes along, regardless of merit.

Bill Press
Columnist, Orlando Sentinel

[George] Zimmerman should be placed on trial. But so also should Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" statute, signed into law by Jeb Bush in 2005, and under which Zimmerman claims immunity. Many warned at the time it would encourage just this kind of mindless, violent behavior. And that's exactly what's happened.

Tampa Bay Times
An editorial

[Gov. Rick Scott's] actions [in appointing a special prosecutor and a task force] should be applauded, but the issues raised in Trayvon's case cannot be allowed to fade away as the headlines do. The "stand your ground" law is a menace. It protects hotheads and those prone to violence, and should be repealed.

John Monroe
vice president of the gun-rights organization Georgiacarry.org, as quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
If somebody shot somebody unjustly, they should be prosecuted. That doesn’t bear on the right to defend themselves or not. If someone is attacked they ought to be able to defend themselves with the best thing available at the time, which is what the law in Georgia is.
Joy-Ann Reid
columnist, in The Miami Herald
The killing of Trayvon Martin has introduced a new terror for the mothers of black boys to contemplate. How, after all, do you prepare your son to face the ordinary citizen, armed, not just with a gun, but also with a sense of entitlement and authority, and an attitude that they have the right to "protect" their world from you? With more and more citizens armed, and alienated, the ordinary prejudices that sadly still afflict our society can become deadly. And no one is more at risk in that world than black teenage boys who are the most followed, the most suspected and the most profiled people in American life.
Jonathan Capehart
Washington Post editorial writer, writing on washingtonpost.com

[Thursday] night, before a crowd of thousands, Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told the throng, "Trayvon is your son."  It was an emotional message that found its echo in the Rose Garden [Friday] morning when the president of the United States personalized this tragedy by saying, "If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon." For many, myself included, those powerful words have created an enduring image.

Gregory Taylor
of Upper Marlboro, Md., as quoted in The Washington Post about how suspicion crosses lines of race and class

Here’s what hurts my own heart. Even in my own black community, we do the same thing. If I’m at the Bowie Town Center, and there’s a whole group of black men hanging out talking, my initial reaction is not one of fear, but suspicion. And that’s one of the things that cuts me if I had to be honest. Those of us who have achieved a level of success and moved out of the ’hood, we even have those suspicions. Some is real, and some is just the same stereotypes perpetrated on us relentlessly by the media. It just bombards us.

The New York Times
Stand Your Ground laws are abominations that should be repealed. One obvious flaw among many is that slain victims can never tell their side of the story — an undisputed fact in the tragic slaying of Trayvon Martin.
Rashad Raymond Moore
a senior philosophy major at Morehouse College in Atlanta, quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Many college students are now reconsidering this case and our place in America. We realize that our status as college students is no different than Trayvon's or any black male walking the streets.

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by Dr. Radut.