Yes, you can get away with murder in Florida. Just use the Stand Your Ground Law like so many have done already. There is no plan to change it.
It was February, 2012 when George Zimmerman shot to death unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL, and nothing happened to Zimmerman. As if in agreement with doing nothing , a special panel was convened by Gov. Scott about the “Stand Your Ground” Law. The panel met, heard testimony, and essentially decided to do nothing.
The vague and unnecessary “Stand Your Ground” Law sponsored in 2005 by NRA darling, State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), has proven deadly and unjust time after time after time. Amazingly, it took international furor weeks after the Trayvon Martin shooting for anyone to realize that Florida had handed a license to kill to its citizens if they simply felt threatened.
Local prosecutors declined to pursue charges against Zimmerman due to the “feel threatened” provision of the Stand Your Ground Law (776.013 “presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm”). As the uproar grew to a crescendo in late March, Gov. Scott and Attorney General Bondi called for a special prosecutor, State Attorney Angela Corey of Jacksonville, who eventually filed charges against Zimmerman.
The Governor’s panel, officially called the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, was criticized from its inception for being largely composed of the law’s legislative defenders, including Rep. Baxley – indeed, all had voted to enact the law. The panel had Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll as co-chair who had the Scott-like audacity to declare:
“It is a mischaracterization for anyone to presume this task force is not balanced.”
Carroll further underscored the predictable outcome:
The goal will be to “come forward with a better fix than what we have now, if there is truly a concern and an issue out there,” she said. [Emphasis added]
Apparently Carroll was unaware of the Trayvon Martin killing that had generated a tidal wave of concern about the issue. Are we off to a good start yet?
Baxley chimed in with his own unhelpful direction:
“Let’s don’t let this turn into a trial of [Florida Statutes Chapter] 776.” Baxley said it was “premature” to assume the law needed to be overhauled.
The bias against critics of the law being on the panel didn’t help allay the misgivings of community leaders and citizens. Many sensed a total whitewash had been initiated with the kind of arrogant disregard for minority citizen outrage that has come to characterize the GOP legislature and governor. Do something to humor and placate the noisome rabble (like a special panel), give it a few months to settle down, issue a meaningless report, and voila, who cares any longer?
And here we are, six months after the panel was chosen. The conclusion is that everything seems just fine. I know, what a shock. Click here for the draft final report, a whopping 5 pages (in 14 point font to make it appear longer?) with a one page conclusion that blithely affirms the value of the law, and seeks better definition of “unlawful activity.” That’s all, folks!
It must be noted that there were a number of other community leaders on the panel besides legislators. Click here to see the list and their bios. It is remarkable that no panel members have been able to utter a worthy reproach of this ridiculous law. Typical was co-chair Rev. R. B. Holmes who was apparently worried about the law being pre-judged by critics when he should have been worried about the panel having pre-judged the law … with its blessing.
“It was a very difficult process where many people had already prejudged the outcome,” said vice-chairman R.B. Holmes, pastor of Tallahassee’s Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. “We’re very clear that we did it right.”
It remains incredible that such a deplorably inept outcome could be produced, no matter how rigged and predictable. Not even a hint of a fig leaf was offered to hide the shame of their sanction of murder!
Is my criticism the result of reading reams of testimony and listening to dozens of expert witnesses and legal whizzes in a slew of meetings around the state? Not hardly, but it doesn’t actually require much effort to get a grip on this.
Just click here for the Tampa Bay Times special web page on Stand Your Ground which documents cases and statistics that obviate the need for the Governor’s asinine special panel and its stooges.
Look under the big circle chart and see “Weapon Comparison.” Victims: 19 gun, 8 knife, 135 unarmed, 30 other. Accused: 121 gun, 36 knife, 18 unarmed, 17 other. Still have any questions?
The website states:
A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that Florida’s “stand your ground” law is being used in ways never imagined — to free gang members involved in shootouts, drug dealers beefing with clients, and people who shot their victims in the back. Defendants have invoked the law to excuse all manner of mischief, from minor fistfights to drug possession to killing an endangered species.
It will remain up to citizens, always, to insist that government act with justice and repeal this useless law that enables getting away with murder in Florida.