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

Contango

America's first black AG is STILL busy politicizing the shooting of TM.

I remember a number of yrs. ago, the CHA started checking Chicago's public housing units for drugs and guns. The U.S. told 'em to "knock it off" as it was against the residents’ civil rights.

Hey AG Holder! Figure out a way to take the guns outa the hands of the gangbangers in Chicago and other major cities and help protect the HUNDREDS of innocent BLACK men, women and especially CHILDREN that are wounded and killed annually.

KnuckleDragger

Like Sandy Hook, "never let a crisis (perceived), go to waste." Just another isolated incident to use as an excuse to push the liberals radical assault on 2A rights. You are right though, it is easier to try to deal with an isolated incident, trumped up by the media, than to deal with the scourge of black males, that of black on black crime, and gang related murders.

The Big Dog's back

It is so sweet that both of you are so concerned with Black on Black crime. Awwwwwwww.

whazup

I agree with you. Too many people live in cities where it is close to impossible to protect themselves from violence. Where is the outrage for this?

cockynurse

I'm so sick of hearing about this. This isn't about self-defense, Zimmerman, or Martin anymore. It's about exploiting the case for self-serving purposes. Get a grip, America.

KnuckleDragger

Amen, preach it!

whazup

Ditto

JudgeMeNot

What a load of pig manure.

YoMamma

Powerful.... not how I would describe Eric Holder. Lying fool would be better.

deertracker

What lie?

KnuckleDragger

Apparently you've not been watching the news over the past 6 mos. Go back to bed.

deertracker

What lie GI Joe? You are so gullible!

KnuckleDragger

Uhh, OK. I should know better than to waste my time on such a mental midget.

deertracker

State the lie.

The Big Dog's back

He can't deertracker. More right wing fodder.

deertracker

Exactly! He can go play with his action figures now!

KnuckleDragger

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_...

There, now you can climb back into bed with little mutt and both of you can play with your little inaction figure :)

JudgeMeNot

LOL.

Mystery_Cheese

Anyone who doesn't think Holder is a liar has clearly not done their research. Granted, both Democrats and Republicans are full of lying fleshsacks, but to deny that one side doesn't lie because that's 'your' side, well, that's just pitiful. When will people realize that Democrats AND Republicans are both bringing this country down? Probably never cause they're too busy telling the other side how horrible they are, while their own side commits the same atrocities.

Contango

Try approaching AG Holder merely to ask him a question, unarmed and watch as his bodyguards practice SYG. :)

(Bleeping) double standard in the U.S.:

The Ruling Political Class and the Proles.

There you go again

Why is Eric Holder still in office?

Mystery_Cheese

Because... Reasons!

deertracker

Great speech! Holder has done a great job!

JudgeMeNot

Your entire comment is absolute nonsense.

007

Eric Holder got off scott free after he supplied the Mexican Cartel with full automatic weapons (FAST AND FURIOUS), which they in turn used on civilians in Mexico along with killing American Border patrol agents.Why doesn't Harry Reid look into that!!!!

registerer

Just recently there were several more murders using weapons from the "fast & furious" Obama give away program.

Simple Enough II

I don't believe they were automatic, just weapons supplied to the others than for the original purchasers use, we call them straw buyers.

grumpy

Last I checked the Constitution, States had the right to make their own laws as long as they are Constitutional, which both self defense and stand your ground have been shown to do. The Attorney General, President, and any federal gov't official has no sway in the matter. They have the right to speak their mind as much as any individual has. And we have the right to point and laugh at their positions on such matters. Holder has been pointed at and laughed at many times. His opinion is no better than anyone else's, since he knows he can do nothing about State laws that are Constitutional. It is up to the States to decide this issue.

arnmcrmn

African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans.

Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.

Nonetheless, prominent African Americans including Holder and “Ebony and Ivory” singer Stevie Wonder, who has vowed not to perform in the Sunshine State until the law is revoked, have made “Stand Your Ground” a central part of the Trayvon Martin controversy.

Holder, who was pressured by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other progressive groups to open a civil rights case against acquitted neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Martin, criticized Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law in a speech Tuesday before the NAACP.

The law was not invoked by Zimmerman’s defense team but was included in instructions to the jury.

“We must confront the underlying attitudes, the mistaken beliefs and the unfortunate stereotypes that serve too often as the basis for police action and private judgments. 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 neighborhood,” Holder said to applause in his speech before the NAACP Tuesday.

“These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the ‘if’ is important — if no safe retreat is available. 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. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety,” Holder said.

“The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation; we must stand OUR ground to ensure — (cheers, applause, music) — we must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent,” Holder said.
http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/1...

whazup

How would Stevie even know he was in Florida?

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