Due To Tensions In America, Bahamas Gov’t Issues Travel Advisory

After a violent week of shootings by and of police in the U.S., government in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas said it has “taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers”, and issued an unprecedented advisory to its citizens traveling to the United States, just as the islands began a weekend celebration of their 43rd year of independence from the British.

Bahamas Coat of Arms
Bahamas Coat of Arms

In a press release, the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said they expect many Bahamians to travel abroad, and warns its citizens traveling to the U.S., but “especially to the affected cities, to exercise appropriate caution generally.”

The statement goes on to say, “In particular, young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”

The Ministry advises Bahamians, to “not get involved in political or other demonstrations under any circumstances and avoid crowds.”

Protests and marches took place throughout the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of deadly police shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana, and New York of unarmed Black men.

The Bahamas has consular offices in New York, Washington, Miami and Atlanta and honorary consuls in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and Houston.

This Bahamian advisory is a bit unprecedented, but there have been warnings in the past from other nations for their citizens to avoid road rage and to watch out for guns in America, or more subtle but obvious safety advisories about air travel, warnings about American rip-offs, or unusual cautions like avoiding U.S. prostitutes, public urination, and nudity.

 

Tweet of the Month: Black Panthers Open Carry

The year was 1967. The Vietnam War was raging. The Doors released their debut album. Elvis Presley & Priscilla got married.  America was near the tail end of the civil rights movement with Lyndon B. Johnson as president, and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan had just become Governor of California.

On May 2, as the California State Assembly convened for a hearing on the Mulford Act – which made open carry of loaded weapons illegal in the state – 26 members of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary group of African-Americans, armed with handguns and shotguns, strolled into the chambers to protest the proposed law, which was introduced as a result of the Panthers penchant for open carry. In the end, the law was passed and six Black Panthers pleaded guilty to disrupting a legislative session.

With open carry gaining popularity in a few states today, would this type of protest succeed? Check out one of the most popular tweets ever posted on @endyourstand

Change Or Repeal: A New Cyber-Active Movement

It’s been over a year since this non-partisan movement to End Stand Your Ground was cyber-active. Apologies to all of you who were faithful readers from the start.

Maybe the hiatus was partly due to a countless overdose of possible stand your ground cases (still trying to catch up on many incidents over the past year), or writer’s block, or so little time while working a job to make a living. Whatever the reason, there’s a lot of catching up to do here (almost done seeping through thousands of emails).Bruce Almighty typing

Now the fight goes on – appropriately starting again on National Gun Violence Awareness Day – with several new, subtle (but unmistakably obvious) changes, which should improve the clarity, awareness, support, and user experience of this network.

The new, biggest change you may notice is that the tag is now ‘to change or repeal’ stand-your-ground laws across America. This was necessary, since basically, if certain states change their ideology and remove the ‘no duty to retreat from anywhere” option, repeal may be unnecessary.

And this movement is not focused on gun control. It’s more about an ideology for saving the lives of unarmed people, whether or not they’re at fault.

Another change is the use of “cyber-movement”, since this activism is taking place primarily via the internet. This should also serve as a reminder to everyone that there is strength in internet users, so your support, participation and involvement – by signup for this blog, a follow on twitter, a like on the ESYG facebook page, comments, and by joining a discussion – is important! You’ll also find this movement has a footprint in many other cyber-places, including YouTubetumblr, Scoop.It, Pinterest, and Google+.

Finally, if you really want to help in an absolutely awesome way, a donation through Paypal would be the ultimate form of support! Expect an improved experience, with updates on all things concerning stand-your-ground and stand your ground laws. Hang on in here for the ride.

Rev. Al Sharpton Leads Florida March Against Stand Your Ground

(UPDATED) Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network will be joined by the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and Attorney Benjamin Crump as they lead a march through Tallahassee on March 10th calling for a repeal of “Stand Your Ground’ laws in Florida.

Nation Action Network Stand Your Ground Rally

Participants are asked to arrive by 9:00 a.m. for the march, which starts at 9:30 a.m. from the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St., and ends at the State Capitol at 400 S. Monroe St.

A rally at the State Capitol will immediately follow the march.

Last week, Sharpton joined many others in decrying the verdict in the Michael Dunn trial. In a statement, Sharpton said, “The mistrial further sends a chilling effect to parents in the twenty-three states that have the stand your ground law or laws similar. It requires the civil rights community to head into Florida, which is now ground zero for a national fight to change that law.”

[UPDATE: March 7, 2014 – Overflow parking will be in the city parking lot at the southeast corner of South Bronough and West Madison Streets.  The lot is accessible from South Bronough Street.The rally after the march will be at Walter Park, on the west side of the Capitol building.]

Stand Your Ground Protesters Arrested In Georgia

Moral Monday Georgia Stand Your Ground Protesters
Moral Monday Georgia protesters demonstrating against the state’s stand your ground law were arrested February 10. 2014. (photo credit: Max Blau)

About 23 people protesting Georgia’s stand your ground law in a demonstration by the Moral Monday activism movement were arrested in the office of State Senator Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building in Atlanta Monday.

Senator Stone is the chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The group wanted to meet with the lawmaker about his handling of SB 280, a bill introduced by Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) to repeal the Georgia stand your ground law. Georgia’s self-defense laws contain a “no duty to retreat” statute enacted in 2006.

Stone’s staff told the protesters that the Senator would meet with only two representatives of the group – without cameras – but the protesters wanted the lawmaker to come out and speak with them all as a group, so the demonstration started, with members singing and holding signs.

Soon after, state troopers arrived. Some demonstrators left, but those who remained were handcuffed and arrested.

Later, Stone told reporters that the Moral Monday group was “disrespectful” because they didn’t schedule an appointment, then turned down his offer of meeting with only two members.

Ten members of the movement, including Senator Fort, were arrested two weeks ago in a Moral Monday demonstration against Governor Nathan Deal’s opposition to expanding Medicaid for the poor.

Moral Monday held a rally against stand your ground last Monday, and Fort said a hearing on SB 280 held last Wednesday was “cut short” by Stone. Fort is waiting to reschedule the hearing.

Although Fort had called for a “full and fair hearing”, he has said the hearing last week was “not full nor fair.” He called Stone’s handling of the hearing “disrespectful”.

Petitions Against Stand Your Ground Reach Over 500,000 Names

UPDATED June 26, 2016

Since the Trayvon Martin shooting over 500,000 names have been added to online petitions calling for a review, change, or end to stand your ground laws, and over 80% of that number come from a petition started by Martin’s parents.

Although activism against the law has dropped dramatically, public sentiment against stand your ground law appears steady, sometimes refueled by news of homicides involving the possibility of stand your ground laws being invoked.

sign petitions against stand your ground laws

Popular internet petition sites like Change.org, credoaction, and MoveOn contain most of the requests, which call for change or repeal of stand your ground law or Florida boycotts.

Change For Trayvon“, a petition on Change.org, calls for the Governors of 21 states to review and amend stand your ground laws. This petition was started in 2012 by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin (parents of Trayvon Martin) and appeared to have had the most signers in February, 2014 – 427,605 – with a goal of 500,000 (In August, 2013, there were 383,844).

 

 

One petition on ColorOfChange.org, calling for an end to “Shoot First” laws had collected 46,890 by August, 2013. And another, to repeal stand your ground laws across America – started by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense – had 26,547 signees in August, 2013 and 30,000 in February, 2014.

Moral Mondays activism, accompanied by news of stand your ground incidents in 2013, helped the names on a petition to repeal stand your ground in Georgia soar from 384 in August, 2013 to over 8400 in February, 2014.

Several other petitions have closed after reaching their goals or becoming ineffective, such as one asking Florida to review the laws, or calling for repeal and another to repeal Florida’s stand your ground law, which had a goal of 10,000 and closed at about 16,000.

Here’s an updated list of over a dozen active online petitions against stand your ground laws. Links to inactive or closed petitions have been removed (Happy Signing!)

Inactive or closed petitions:

  • No More Stand Your Ground(thepetitionsite.com)
  • Repeal Stand Your Ground laws (Sojo.com)
  • Petitions to Dept of Justice to repeal Stand Your Ground laws in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina (petitiondemocracy.com)
  • Impact petition for state legislators to review all Stand Your Ground laws (Change.org)

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Trayvon Martin Foundation Hosts Peace Walk

An organization started by the parents of Trayvon Martin hosts a “peace walk” and free community program in Miami this weekend that promises motivational speakers, music, and food.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation, founded by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, is sponsoring a Trayvon Martin Remembrance Peace Walk starting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 8.

Trayvon Matin Peace Walk

The program begins with a one-mile walk from Miami’s Carol City Park, 3501 NW 185th Street to the Betty Ferguson Center, 3000 NW 199th Street. Registration is required, and can be done online at the Trayvon Foundation website. Participants are requested to arrive at 8 a.m. to check in and receive line placement.

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A Million Hoodies Call For Music Turned Up For Jordan Davis

The Million Hoodies Movement For Justice is calling for a Day of Action to turn the music up throughout America on February 16, the birthday of Jordan Davis, gunned down after an argument over loud music by Michael Dunn, whose trial began this week.

Jacksonville, Florida Mayor Alvin Brown has proclaimed February 16 as Jordan Russell Davis Day.

The National Day of Action includes turning radios all the way up, mobilizing across the country, and signing a petition calling for Justice for Jordan Davis.

The movement is using the twitter hashtag #MusicUp4JD to promote the Day of Action., and participants can RSVP to the Hoodies.million hoodies logo

Million Hoodies is an award-winning activism movement started in response to the Trayvon Martin shooting. The group reports over 50,000 members, and helped generate global support for the arrest of George Zimmerman after he was not immediately charged in the shooting.

The group is trying to recruit local chapter organizers across the country. For more information go to the Million Hoodies website.

Rally To End Stand Your Ground In Georgia

Moral Monday Georgia is staging a rally against stand your ground law in Georgia at the state capitol in Atlanta at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow – Monday, February 3, to gain support against SB 280, a bill to repeal Georgia’s stand your ground law.

Georgia rally against stand your ground law

Moral Monday Georgia is a grassroots social justice group modeled after protest groups in North Carolina. Moral Monday protests are characterized by engaging in civil disobedience by entering the state legislature building and then being peacefully arrested. The protests are generally partisan against Republican actions.

Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) and nine other people were arrested last Monday inside Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s office and charged with obstruction and criminal trespassing while protesting the governor’s opposition to expansion of Medicaid programs for the poor.

The rally tomorrow precedes a hearing on Wednesday, February 5, in the Georgia House on a bill introduced by Senator Fort to repeal the Georgia stand your ground law.

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Georgia Senator Hopes To End Stand Your Ground

[UPDATE: This hearing was postponed due to weather conditions in Atlanta, and will now be held at 3:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, February 5, 2014]

Georgia will hold a hearing before the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee on a bill to repeal the state’s stand your ground law on Wednesday, January 29, and advocates are calling on supporters to “pack the house”.nd stand your ground in Georgia

The bill, SB 280, introduced by Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), seeks to repeal the statute relating to “no duty to retreat” in Georgia’s self-defense laws. The hearing will take place at 3:00 p.m. (EST) in Room 307 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, located at 18 Capitol Square in Atlanta.

Georgia Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)
Georgia Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)

Senator Fort said in a statement that he is calling for “a full and fair hearing” on SB 280, something he claims was not done with a related bill last session. He said this bill, “seeks to end the morally wrong practice of allowing individuals to shoot first and ask questions later, a startling fact that is simply unacceptable for the citizens of this state.”

Advocates are calling on supporters to rally behind the bill and pack the house for this hearing. A facebook page promoting this event has details on parking and directions. Fort hosted a Georgia town hall meeting in December that was well-attended.

Georgia has been rocked by several incidents which may involve the state’s controversial law. One incident last year was on Veteran’s Day in Catoosa County, when a 17 year-old was shot and killed by a homeowner during a burglary.

Georgia stand your ground vicitim Ronald Westbrook
Ronald Westbrook

Notably and most recently, in November, 72 year-old Ronald Westbrook, who suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease, was killed after ringing the doorbell and turning a doorknob at a home in Walker County.

In November, Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition filed a lawsuit against Georgia challenging the state’s stand your ground law, as a result of two cases.

In one case, James Christopher Johnson III, a 25 year-old African-American, was killed at a nightclub in March of last year after an argument with a white man who was harassing his girlfriend. His killer later claimed stand your ground and was acquitted.

In another case, Herman Smith, Jr., 21, an African-American, was sentenced to life last year for killing a man at a birthday party in November, 2012.

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All Across America

It’s happening all across America. Whether by a gun, a knife, or other means, far too many people are killed every year by others who have the option to invoke “stand your ground” immunity to try and avoid prosecution.

These amended self-defense laws can allow someone to manipulate a scenario that allows them to cause great bodily harm or take another’s life.

The Movement to End Stand Your Ground is releasing a new 35-second video, “All Across America” today, with images of unarmed “stand your ground” victims, to help call attention to this. Check it out, then share it with everyone you know:

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Major Stand Your Ground Law News Of 2013

2013 was the year stand your ground law became a major hot-button issue. After the George Zimmerman trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, civil rights groups, activists, elected officials, and news media outlets across America began calling for a repeal or changes in Florida’s stand your ground laws, causing several major events:

           1. George Zimmerman Trial

George Zimmerman and trayvon Martin
George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin

Until the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, few people had ever even heard of a stand your ground law. While Zimmerman never claimed stand your ground immunity, language from Florida’s notorious statute was used in the jury instructions, and news that he was acquitted resulted in a public perception that stand your ground played a role in the outcome. 

          2. Dream Defenders Sit-In

dream defenders at Florida capitol sit-in
Dream Defenders at Florida capitol sit-in (photo: twitter/dreamdefenders))

After the Zimmerman trial, a group of Florida college students got together to form a coalition that quickly gained support and built momentum against stand your ground law in Florida. The Dream Defenders became unofficial leaders of a movement to change or repeal the law in Florida, pushing for lawmakers to hold a hearing.

          3. Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander
Marissa Alexander

A Florida woman who fired a warning shot toward an abusive husband became major news after the Zimmerman trial, and a symbol of women’s rights against domestic violence and everything that’s wrong with the state’s justice system when she was denied stand your ground immunity, then subsequently sentenced to a mandatory 20 years in prison.

A judge later granted her a new trial based on faulty jury instructions, and she is free on bond pending the new trial. The case helped force the state to make changes to the law regarding warning shots, at a Florida Senate hearing held preceding the state’s stand your ground hearing.

          4. US Senate Hearing

US_Senate_Seal
US_Senate_Seal

For the first time, the federal government held a hearing on stand your ground laws in America. The U.S. Senate hearing, originally scheduled for September 17 in Washington, D.C., was postponed due to news of a mass shooting the day before at a nearby Navy Yard. The majority of a nine-member panel testified against the laws.

          5. Florida Rejects Repeal

Tallahassee_Old_and_New_Capitols
old and new Florida Capitols (Wikimedia Commons photo by Infrogmation)

Florida finally held a much-anticipated hearing on a bill to repeal stand your ground law, and as also anticipated – (especially since the chairman of the committee had said he wouldn’t change “one damn comma” of the law) – the repeal was rejected. Other efforts are underway to change stand your ground law in Florida, where it all started.

The Zimmerman trial, other incidents, and legislative actions in city halls and state capitols since that trial have ensured that until major concessions take place to close loopholes existing within stand your ground laws,  they will continue to be controversial.

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