Hundreds of people marched on the State Capitol Monday to protest Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. They were led by the Reverend Al Sharpton and the parents of two slain teens.
Chanting phrases like “no Stand Your Ground” and “no justice, no peace,” the Reverend Al Sharpton led a march from the Leon County Civic Center to the steps of the Florida Capitol building.
“Marching brings attention and rallies the focus of the nation. Dr. King tore down the walls of segregation with marching. Marching doesn’t solve a problem. It exposes a problem. This law’s a problem,” said Sharpton, before the start of the march.
The law says people have the right to stand their ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if they’re in a situation that they feel could result in death or great bodily harm.
Linking arms with the mothers of Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin—the two slain teens whose families believe they were negatively impacted by the law—Sharpton ended the march on the front steps of the Florida Capitol building with an hour long rally.
“I brought both my daughters to march because they could be in one of the Stand Your ground states, and could be a victim. So, we’re not just marching for Trayvon. We’re not just marching for Jordan. We’re not just marching for Michael Giles. We’re marching for our children, ourselves. We all are Trayvon Martin! We all are Jordan Davis," said Sharpton to the crowd.
Jordan Davis’ mother Lucia McBath wore a shirt with her son’s picture on it as she marched and rallied protestors. Jurors were deadlocked last month on a first degree murder charge against Michael Dunn, who fatally shot the 17-year-old outside a Jacksonville convenience store following a dispute over loud music. But, Dunn is facing at least 60 years in prison for the attempted murder of three teens who were in the car with the Georgia teen.
Still, McBath says there’s no doubt in her mind Dunn is at fault, but so is the controversial law.
“My son’s life was cut short by three bullets that pierced his organs and robbed him of his very last breath, but it was a shady law known as Stand Your Ground that robbed his father and I of any hope of justice. So, I stand before you today on behalf of Jordan’s father and my family, we will continue to fight, we will continue to stand, and we are not going away,” said McBath.
Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, were also in attendance. The 17-year-old lost his life, after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot the unarmed teen. Zimmerman was later acquitted, and Fulton says Florida deserves an ‘F’ “because right now, Florida is failing us. Florida is failing our teenagers, Florida is failing our young men and women. Florida has to change this law now.”
There’s a bipartisan compromise being worked out on in the Senate, led by Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith and Altamonte Springs Republican Senator David Simmons, the main author of Stand Your Ground.
But Sharpton and others criticized the changes for not going far enough. And, Smith says he agrees.
“I say they’re correct. I think it should go further. I want it to go further, and we will still continue to make it go further,” said Smith.
Smith says he’s continuing to work on the Senate’s so-called tweak of the law in hopes that it will get another hearing.
Meanwhile, the Republican-led Florida Legislature has been resistant to making changes to the law. A repealer bill failed in its first House hearing last year.
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