Stand-your-ground law gains powerful foe

AG Holder criticizes Florida's statute
Associated Press
Jul 17, 2013

Stand-your-ground laws that allow a person who believes he is in danger to use deadly force in self-defense "sow dangerous conflict" and need to be reassessed, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday in assailing the statutes that exist in many states.

Holder said he was concerned about the Trayvon Martin slaying case in which Florida's stand-your-ground law played a part.

But he added: "Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."

George Zimmerman was acquitted over the weekend of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Martin's 2012 death in Sanford, Fla. Holder said the Justice Department has an open investigation into what he called Monday the "tragic, unnecessary shooting death" of the unarmed Miami 17-year-old.

He urged the nation then to speak honestly about complicated and emotionally charged issues. A day later, he seemed to shift away from the specific case to one of those issues — the debate over stand-your-ground.

"There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the 'if' is important — no safe retreat is available," Holder told the NAACP.

The country must take a hard look at laws that contribute to "more violence than they prevent," Holder said during a speech before an NAACP convention in Orlando, about 20 miles from the courthouse where Zimmerman was cleared of the charges three days earlier. Such laws "try to fix something that was never broken," he said.

Martin's shooting shined a light on Florida's stand-your-ground and similar laws around the nation. Most say a person has no duty to retreat if he is attacked in a place he has a right to be and can meet force with force if he fears death or great bodily harm.

Sanford's police chief cited the law as his reason for not initially arresting Zimmerman in February 2012. Zimmerman told police Martin was beating him up during the confrontation and that he feared he would be killed.

Though stand-your-ground was never raised during trial, Judge Debra Nelson included a provision about the law in the instructions that allowed jurors to consider it as a legitimate defense.

"But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common-sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely," Holder said.

The defense skipped a chance to ask that Zimmerman have a stand-your-ground hearing before trial. If the judge had decided there was enough evidence that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, she could have tossed out the case before a jury heard it.

"Stand-your-ground laws license vigilantism and we should all worry about that," said Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP's president and CEO, after Holder's speech.

Holder on Tuesday only briefly touched on a possible federal civil rights case being brought against Zimmerman. And legal experts say such a case would be a difficult challenge.

Prosecutors would have to prove that Zimmerman was motivated by racial animosity to kill Martin. The teen was on his way back to his father's fiancee's house after going to a store when the neighborhood watch volunteer saw him and followed him in the community of about 50,000, which is about one-third black.

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton, who has been one of the most vocal champions of a federal investigation, acknowledged Tuesday there are possible legal hurdles. Still, he said "there is also a blatant civil rights question of does Trayvon Martin and the Trayvon Martins of this country have the civil right to go home."

Saturday's acquittal has inspired "Justice For Trayvon" protests around the nation. Most have been peaceful, although vandalism and violence happened in Los Angeles.

Dozens of protesters carrying signs demanding justice for Martin crammed into the lobby of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office Tuesday and refused to leave until the governor either met with them or called lawmakers back to Tallahassee to address issues like the state's stand-your-ground law. Many planned to spend the night in the Capitol building.

Despite the challenges of bringing a federal civil rights case, some NAACP members said they wanted swift action.

Tony Hickerson, an NAACP member from Seattle, said he would be disappointed if he doesn't see the Justice Department taking action within a month.

"I heard what he (Holder) said, and I don't question his sincerity, but I'd like to see swift action in this case, and I haven't seen that yet," said Hickerson. "His words were eloquent but I need to see some action before I get enthusiastic."

Added Hickerson, "This is a very obvious case. How much thinking do you have to do?"

In his comments referencing the Zimmerman case, Holder offered a story from his own personal experience — describing how when he was a young black man his father had told him how to interact with the police, what to say and how to conduct himself if he was ever stopped or confronted in a way he thought was unwarranted.

"I'm sure my father felt certain — at the time — that my parents' generation would be the last that had to worry about such things for their children," Holder told the NAACP convention. "Trayvon's death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down."

___

Yost and AP writer Shaquille Brewster reported from Washington.

 

Comments

looking around

LOL good one! He probably could smell the stink.

The Big Dog's back

Yep, teabaggers do have a stench about them.

Simple Enough II

+10

grumpy

Good find, I was saving that link to use when someone stepped in it, but your premptive strike is just as good. We must read the same websites.

KnuckleDragger

It must really suck for Holder, knowing that there is nothing he can do about Stand your ground. Any attempt by the Federal Govt to overturn these laws in sovereign states would be met with rebuke by the Supreme Court. The pansy libs would rather have a cower and shake law.

Kelly

He doesn't care. He's just grandstanding.

The Big Dog's back

"Pansy Libs"? Let me give you a little history lesson. It was the "pansy" Northern Liberals who kicked the spit out of the southern conservatives in the civil war.

JudgeMeNot

Trayvons supporters have proven time and time again that they have low IQ's.

registerer

Hey AG Holder how is the Benghazi (sp?) debacle working out?

The Big Dog's back

Good!

The New World Czar

Holder's incompetence speaks for itself through his office's track record.

The bigger issue is our federal government barging in on states and their sovereignties. They did it in Arizona with enforcement of illegal immigration and are now doing it with Florida...whether you agree with the Stand Your Ground law or not.

Darwin's choice

Holder = another of Obama's failure's! It's a long list.....

looking around

Stand your ground laws may have relevance when objectively interrupted by sane thinking individuals, but the problem is in real life and death cases it is often practiced by those with less brain power to make such decisions. A case in point a young boy in florida whom felt he was being bullied by another boy on the school bus was involved in a continuing confrontation after getting off the bus, the end result was the boy
being bullied stabbed the other who died. What normally would have been a school yard fracas ended in a death. Stand your ground laws were cited as a reasonable justification for deadly force. How many road rage incidents or neighbor squabbles will end up with one person dead because the other choose to stand their ground and take an others life?

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2...

ladydye_5

Talk about racist. The first BLACK AG...giving a speech about government policy to the ALL BLACK NAACP. If they are talking about something that the government may or may not do, or change in policy or something that could effect the country as a WHOLE, I would think that should be PUBLICIZED for all to see, not a select few.

deertracker

It was on television. I saw part of it. Very compelling story how he was profiled even though he was a federal prosecutor at the time!

The Big Dog's back

You can join dye.

Simple Enough II

Now that is a very good idea..... I like that, heck I'll even give you credit.......

amazedeveryday

This will never stop until the persons involved are not identified by color. What is wrong with saying, This (no color) male shot this (no color) male. Identifying persons involved in crimes IS profiling and it is part of media attention grabbing. Until we recognize (no color) people as people, the racism will remain alive and well.

The Big Dog's back

I'm sure the white supremacists will jump right on that bus.

whazup

White supremacists have a monopoly on racism, right Barky? Lord knows that no other sub-culture in our society has hatred toward another group. All of the blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, Indians and others cultures live together in harmony while the whites go around hating on them.

Mystery_Cheese

As I'm sure the Black Panthers and the NBFSN would too! Along with every other hate-filled group that only worries about one group of people.

badboy

"Florida's "stand your ground" law works and should not be overturned, but the standards for neighborhood watch groups should be looked at by the Legislature, a state task force concluded Friday."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/...

looking around

"There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the 'if' is important — no safe retreat is available,"

I guess then in the recent case of a local mans alleged attack on a man confined to the cab of his truck, the driver could have justifiably pulled a gun and shot his attacker to death. End of another problem.

Centauri

http://canadafreepress.com/index...
"Eric Holder’s Reign of Racial Terror"

http://www.freerepublic.com/focu...
"Blackness Trumps Fairness (Eric Holder the Racist)"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1...
"Eric Holder Is a Racist"

The Big Dog's back

He's racist and you're not. Oh OK.

Centauri

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6...
"What Obama Should Say About Trayvon Martin Case"
Published on Jul 16, 2013

J Cooper

Holder, Obama and locally dog breath, pandering is all they have.

whazup

Only in America does a brown man shoot a black man and the white man gets blamed. You gotta love it!

sandtown born a...

That about sums it up right there

JudgeMeNot

Stand Your Ground laws are one reason the police originally did not press charges against Zimmer poochy.

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