Jesse Jackson Sues Georgia Over Stand Your Ground Law

Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition filed a lawsuit Friday against the state of Georgia challenging the state’s 2006 stand your ground law. It’s reportedly the beginning of a push to universally define the laws that exist in over 21 U.S. states. Jackson says the law is arbitrary and inconsistent, especially for people of color.

Jesse Jackson (Flickr photo by Eric Guo)
Jesse Jackson (Flickr photo by Eric Guo)

Jackson, flanked by members of two families from two spectrums of stand your ground shootings, who are also named as plaintiffs in the suit, held a press conference to announce the action.

James Christopher Johnson III, a 25 year-old African-American, was killed at a nightclub in March of this year by a man who later claimed stand your ground. Johnson was with his girlfriend when Adam Lee Edmondson, a 26 year-old white male, made an “inappropriate” gesture or look toward the girlfriend, causing an argument, which ended when a friend of Edmonson’s took him away.

The next night Johnson and his girl went back to the same club, and again Edmondson showed up, this time reportedly approaching Johnson’s girlfriend on a patio.  After Edmonson’s repeated advances, she asked friends to go get Johnson and security, who were inside the club.  Johnson came out, and pushed Edmonson, who pulled out a .40 caliber handgun, then shot and killed Johnson, who was unarmed. Edmonson was later acquitted under Georgia’s stand your ground law.

The other case included in the lawsuit is that of Herman Smith, Jr., 21, an African-American who was sentenced to life in the killing of Cardarius Stegall at a birthday party last November. reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Smith was standing with a man Stegall had threatened to shoot, and as Stegall walked toward them with a gun in his hand, Smith pulled out a gun and shot Stegall first. Despite claiming stand your ground, Smith was convicted of murder in August.

Another lawsuit against the state over the law that was filed last year by Georgia civil rights activist Rev. Markel Hutchins was dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiff had not been injured as a result of the law.

After George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Jackson called for a boycott of Florida because of stand your ground laws.

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