Last Updated on February 27, 2014 by Paulette Brown-Hinds
Stand your ground sounds almost like a good old gospel song that one should sing in church. Here in the US, most states have some form of a stand-your-ground law, but the spotlight has most recently been on the State of Florida since the ruling in the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case based on this law.
This law caught my attention when George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin on a rainy night in a Florida housing community. Zimmerman told the police that he felt threatened and was a victim of Martin. Martin did not have a gun but Zimmerman did have one and used it to kill Martin during a hand-to-hand scuffle. Zimmerman initiated the encounter by following Martin after being told not to do so by a 9-1-1 operator. He was advised to wait until the police arrived.
Zimmerman ignored that command because he thought that “young thugs” get away with too much and he intended to not let that happen again.
During that incident another shooting came to my attention that involved a woman firing a warning shot to prevent her ex-husband from beating her. He had a history of beating women and had a court ordered restraining order to stay away. She was safely in her home and told him to leave, which he was in violation of the law by being there. Since he would not leave and told her “I am going to beat you to death”, she picked up her gun and fired the warning shot into the air and said, “if you come any closer I will shoot you.”
He filed charges against her and she was taken to jail and court.
Now I hear of another shooting and killing in Florida of an unarmed young teenager, Jordan Davis who was sitting in a car with friends playing music. They were at a convenience store when another customer, Michael Dunn, pulled into the parking lot and parked next to them.
The youths were minding their own business until the uninvited customer decided that they were playing their music too loud and asked them to turn it down. He said the youth, “thugs,” talked back to him and words were exchanged which led to him reaching into his glove compartment for his gun, killing one and attempting to kill three others.
Dunn proceeded to wait for his fiancée to return from inside the store where he told her what had happened. They left the scene to finish the night by ordering pizza and having wine. This man did not call the police about what happened but waited until the police contacted him.
He told the police what happened and that he was a victim and was defending himself from those thugs as he called them. He told police that the youths had a gun but one has yet to be found by anyone and he never mentioned to his fiancée that they had a gun even though he told her everything that had happened to him.
During his trial, the three remaining youths told their version of what happened which was the opposite of his.
If you have been following these incidents and court cases you know that in the Zimmerman case he was found not guilty of killing an unarmed youth. Zimmerman is White while the youth was Black. Zimmerman was caught saying “they” are always getting away with wrong doing of breaking into homes stealing things.
In the second case, the woman is Black and the man is Black and in violation of a court order but the woman is found guilty of firing a warning shot into the air and sentenced to twenty-years in prison. In the third case, the man is White, found not guilty of killing a Black youth, but is found guilty on three counts of attempted murder for shooting at the car they were sitting in.
In all three cases the defendants pleaded not guilty because they were standing their ground to defend themselves from being harmed.
In my opinion the only one defending herself was the woman who had been beaten by her ex-husband in the past and was trespassing by being on her property. She did not initiate the visit and she warned him to leave. When he would not leave but told her what he was going to do to her, she reached for her gun and fired a warning shot to protect herself and family.
These “Stand Your Ground Laws” must be changed because they are unjust and if you are Black and a victim or protector you are guilty of a crime. You are guilty if you have a gun and use it or you become a victim if you do not have one and end up killed in the process.