Stand Your Ground Goes Wrong In Racist Gang Attack

A paradigm of just how badly stand your ground can go wrong is when a Black man brutally attacked by a group of White men is charged with murder, testifies that he didn’t intend to kill one, but did, and then a judge decides he is not immune from prosecution – because the self-defense was unintentional.

It happened in Georgia, and the story of Jesse Murray, as revealed in media and police reports, goes beyond blatant disregard for the stand your ground law he tried to use, after becoming the victim of a brutal racist attack.

It reportedly all begins at a sports bar in Clayton County, Georgia, where 33-year-old Murray met with his estranged wife, Traci, for a meal, to discuss their relationship and children. The couple had once been regular customers of the business and were known by employees there.

Jesse Murray

After their meal, the Murrays tried their hand at a game of pool while having a few drinks, as a party was taking place nearby. Nathan Adams, a White male who was allegedly drunk, along with a woman, stumbled into Traci, and Murray, who is Black, tried to stop them from falling.

Adams – who just happened to be an ex-cop – offered no apologies, but allegedly warned Murray not to touch him again, as Murray stood between Traci and Adams and told him to get away from his wife.

A drunken Adams reportedly told Murray, “You need to f*cking leave” as four other White men, apparently Adams’ friends, appeared to surround Murray, and Adams pushed him in the chest.

Murray said he walked away from the men, went outside to his car, grabbed his licensed handgun and headed back toward the entrance to go back inside to bring his wife Traci out. He put the gun in his pocket.

As he tried to go back into the bar, Adams’ group blocked the door. Murray told the men to let his wife come out of the bar, but they refused, and instead moved toward him into the parking lot.

Several men accused of attacking Murray reportedly claimed they were concerned Murray was going to get a gun, had made threatening statements, and had called the woman who was with Adams an offensive name.

WSB-TV reports that Murray testified, “I was scared. I was definitely, at that moment, I was in fear. I was scared,” He also said, “They just made trouble happen for no reason.”

Adams threw a punch at Murray and all four men jumped in, kicking punching, and tackling Murray to the ground, then choking him as Adams held him by the arm.

In chilling court testimony, Murray testified that, “As he [Adams] was pulling on me I just remember him grunting.” Murray said soon after that Adams appeared to reach for (or his hands got close to) the gun in Murray’s pocket.

“At that point, when I pulled back, that’s when my gun discharges.” Murray was then able to escape – as one of the men shot at him – and run to a nearby business, from where he called police.

When police arrived, Murray surrendered his weapon and tried to explain what happened, but was handcuffed by the responding officer. While Murray was cuffed, one of Adams’ friends allegedly ran up and punched Murray in the head.

Responding officers didn’t arrest the man who punched Murray, who was then placed into a patrol car, as a white officer (off-duty and out of uniform) – who was another of Adams’ friends – arrived on the scene, and shouted, “Do you know who we are? We’re going to fry your black ass!” reports rollingout.com.

Nathan Adams
Nathan Adams (screen grab WSB-TV)

Adams was pronounced dead at a hospital. Murray was transported to jail, where he was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault. No one else was charged with a crime that night.

After a stand your ground hearing in June, Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert R. Collier denied stand your ground immunity for Murray, stating that Murray was not in fear for his life. If convicted, he now faces up to 15 years in prison.

Read Georgia’s Self-Defense Laws Here

The judge responded that it doesn’t appear to the court “that the other men in the vicinity were acting in such a way that would cause the defendant to reasonably believe that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or a third party.”

The Judge’s ruling also states that, “The court cannot reconcile the defendants asking for immunity under a self-defense statute, by stating that the use of deadly force was justified, and then also stating that the use of deadly force was unintentional.”

Murray’s defense attorney Mawuli Mel Davis plans to file a Motion to Reconsider.

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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”.

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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Jordan Davis Family Prepares For Michael Dunn Trial

As the trial of Michael Dunn gets underway on February 3, Lucia Mcbath, the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, is making the rounds of network interviews, preparing for Dunn’s trial and telling the story of her fight to change or end stand your ground laws to anyone who’ll listen.

Jordan was gunned down while sitting in a friend’s SUV at a Jacksonville, Florida gas station in November, 2012 by Dunn after an argument over loud music.

Dunn’s attorney has said he may claim self-defense immunity under stand your ground laws because he said he felt theatened.

Jordan Davis’ family has been ordered not to show any support or emotion at the trial.

Yet, Mcbath and Jordan’s father Ron Davis have been tirelessly and emotionally sharing their story across the country since the tragedy, to gain support and awareness in the struggle for gun control and against stand your ground laws.

Mcbath testified last year at a U.S. Senate hearing on stand your ground, and at a Florida hearing to repeal stand your ground laws held last November. She also became the official national spokesperson for gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action.

Ron Davis has campaigned for changes to the law, and slammed the law and his son’s killer, Michael Dunn, in a radio interview last year.

In an interview with CNN two weeks before the February 3 Michael Dunn trial, Mcbath discusses how the George Zimmerman trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin may impact this trial.

WATCH THE FULL CNN INTERVIEW WITH LUCIA MCBATH:

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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Stand Your Ground Movie Opening This Weekend

Over 8,000 seats have been reserved in 19 towns for the opening weekend of the independent film “Cry For Justice: Stand Your Ground”, a courtroom drama based on a true story of faith and a journey experienced by Jackie Carpenter, a Georgia woman, as she fights to free her son, Jason Veitch, from felony murder charges.

The movie is scheduled to open in 19 theaters in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas on Friday.

Veitch was defending his property in 2008 when he shot and killed Gaston Gonzalez, whom he suspected of stealing construction materials. Veitch was later cleared of all charges.

Ironically, Lucia Mcbath, the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, gunned down in Florida in 2012 by 46 year-old Michael Dunn during an argument over loud music, is an actress who has a small role in the film. She plays the fictional Mrs. Reymundo, a grieving mother and the wife of a man named Juan Reymundo.

Mcbath testified at a U.S. Senate hearing and at a Florida hearing on stand your ground laws. Both she and the teen’s dad, Ron Davis, have been advocates for changes to stand your ground law.

The filmmakers have a faceboook page and website hawking the movie. To see locations and reserve tickets go to Seatzy.com.

The film is not yet rated, but its producers claim it is a Dove “Family Approved” film recommended for ages 12 and over, having received The Dove Foundation’s highest rating of Five Doves.


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Shocking Stand Your Ground Shootings

UPDATED May 31, 2016

2013 was the year stand your ground law became a national controversial issue. A case could fall into this category if a person who takes a life claims self-defense under stand your ground laws or may have the option to invoke the law. Here are some of the most shocking incidents that made headlines:

CLICK THE VICTIM’S NAME FOR MORE DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT

RONALD WESTBROOK, Georgia

Georgia stand your ground vicitim Ronald Westbrook
Ronald Westbrook

On November 27, 2013 Ronald Westbrook, a 72-year-old man with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, wandered four miles away from home with his dogs in the middle of the night. He jiggled the doorknob and rang the doorbell of a home in Walker County, Georgia, alerting the resident, Joe Hendrix, 34, who went outside.

Hendrix said that he saw a figure walking toward him in the darkness, ordered the man to stop several times, and fired his weapon, killing Westbrook, who was not armed. Hendrix was cleared of all charges on February 28, 2014.

 

RENISHA MCBRIDE, Michigan

Renisha Mcbride
Renisha Mcbride

On November 2nd, 2013 Renisha Mcbride, a 19-year-old woman fresh out of high school, had wrecked her car in predominately white Detroit suburb of Dearborn Heights. She may have been confused or impaired, but walked into the neighborhood. She didn’t come out alive.

Theodore Wafer, a 46-year-old resident, claims he heard banging on his door, went to the door with a 12-gauge shotgun, and Mcbride, who was unarmed, was shot in the face. Wafer said the gun went off accidentally. He was found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter with intent but without malice and felony use of a firearm on Aug. 7, 2014 and received a sentence of 17 to 32 years in prison.

 

JANDEI CHERRY, Florida

Jandei Cherry
Jandei Cherry (facebook/Justice4Jandei)

After getting off from work at a restaurant on October 6th, 2013, 22-year-old Jandei Cherry and a couple of co-workers go to the beach in Hollywood, Florida for a pre-dawn swim. While there, Jandei got into some kind of argument with one of the others. When he came out of the water after skinny-dipping, his clothes, cell phone, and other belongings were gone.

Jandei started a ten-mile trek home without his clothes on. A motorist, Duke Laguerre, 29, driving with his girlfriend, saw him, turned around, and claims that after asking the naked man if he was OK several times, Cherry, who was not armed, held on to the window as Laguerre tried to roll it up. Laguerre said he fired a shot, shattering the window and striking Cherry, who later died at a hospital. Laguerre has never been arrested or charged.

JENNIFER ALFONSO, Florida

Derek Medina and Jennifer Alfonso (facebook)
Derek Medina and Jennifer Alfonso (facebook photo)

Jennifer Alfonso, 26 and Derek Medina, 31, appeared to be a loving married couple, from the content smiles they posted in facebook pictures. But on August 8th, 2013 something went terribly wrong in Miami, and friends found a picture Medina posted on facebook of Alfonso’s dead body.

Medina had shot Alfonso several times, then posted a rant saying his wife was punching him, and “I’m not going to stand anymore with the abuse.” Neither could Alfonso; she was lying dead face up on the kitchen floor. Medina claims Alfonso had pulled a kitchen knife on him minutes before he killed her.

After calling his boss, stopping to say goodbye to an aunt, he had his dad drive him to a police station to turn himself in. Medina was found guilty of second-degree murder, throwing a deadly missile, and child endangerment on November 25, 2015, and sentenced to life in prison on February 5, 2016, but not before threatening to sue the world.

 

LEWIS DANIEL, Texas

On July 22nd, 2013 Shanequia Mcdonald, a 23-year-old Houston woman pulled into a gas station and was approached by 58-year-old Lewis Daniel, who she claims made unwanted sexual advances toward her.

In surveillance video Daniel can be seen approaching Mcdonald, who claims he had a knife in his hand. She backs up, he takes a few steps back, and she is seen going into the trunk of her car, taking out a shotgun, then, as Daniel moves toward her, she fires a shot, killing him instantly.

What happens next is equally shocking: Mcdonald calmly walks back to the trunk, puts the shotgun inside, gets a camera out of her car, takes a photo of Daniels’ body, gets back into her car, and drives off.

(This article was updated on 5/6/2016 for timely reference, then again on 5/31/2016 to include the outcomes of each case if available)

 

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Mother Shoots Through Door, Kills Daughter Holding Baby

In a horrible accident a few days before Thanksgiving a Florida woman shot through a door thinking it was her boyfriend, killing her daughter – who was holding a 4-month-old baby. This is the latest in a month-long string of “doorstep shootings” where someone claiming to be in fear fired a gun at the door.

Ruby Bing
Ruby Bing (facebook photo)

On Monday night, November 25th, Adele Bing, 52, of Winter Haven Florida, had a fight with her boyfriend, James Lane, 39, and hit him in the head with a gun. Bing told police he left, but not before telling her he’d be back to kill her. Unbeknownst to Bing, Lane instead went to a hospital to be treated.

While he was at the hospital, Adele Bing claimed she heard a banging and kicking at her apartment door, and, thinking it was Lane, went to the door holding a baseball bat in one hand and a .22 caliber pistol in the other. At the door was her daughter, 25-year-old Ruby Bing, who was holding Adele’s 4-month-old grandchild.

Ruby Bing2
Ruby Bing (facebook photo)

Bing told police that as she opened the door, the gun went off by accident, hitting Ruby with a single shot to the chest. She died at the scene. Luckily, the baby wasn’t hurt. Police arrived to find Adele Bing cradling her daughter’s body, begging her to wake up.

She reportedly has made a statement to police that it was a “f–up accident” and stated, “How can I look my grandkids in their face and say I killed their mother? Y’all can lock me away for good.”

Adele Bing
Adele Bing (Winter Haven Police Dept. booking photo)

She was charged with second degree murder, shooting a deadly weapon, domestic violence with aggravated battery, and child neglect without great bodily harm.

UPDATE: Mom Who Killed Daughter Holding Baby Is Sentenced

Adele Bing
Police bring Adele Bing in for booking.

This and other recent incidents underscore the dangers of approaching a door in supposed “fear” while holding a gun, and of banging on a door at night, heightening the likelihood that a deadly encounter or a self-defense incident may occur.

On November 2nd, 19-year-old Renisha Mcbride was shot and killed after banging on the door of a Michigan home after she wrecked her car. Then on November 27th, Ronald Westbrook, a 72-year-old Georgia man with Alzheimer’s disease, was shot and killed after trying a door at the wrong house, then approaching a man who came outside.


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Town Hall Meeting On Georgia Stand Your Ground This Week

Civil rights activists, community organizations, community leaders, and gun rights groups will come together In Atlanta on Tuesday, December 10th for a town hall meeting on stand your ground law, hosted by Georgia Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).

Fort said the town hall meeting would be an opportunity for the community to hear about the political, legal, and community implications involved with the repeal of stand your ground law in Georgia.

Georgia’s self-defense statute specifically uses the words ”no duty to retreat”, effectively creating a stand your ground law.

The meeting is set for 7:00 p.m. at First Iconium Baptist Church, 542 Moreland Avenue SE in Atlanta. Fort said the town hall meeting would be an opportunity for the community to hear about the political, legal, and community implications involved with the repeal of stand your ground law in Georgia.

Senator Fort announced the forum last month, a week before the state was shaken by the tragic death of a Georgia man with Alzheimer’s disease, 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook, who was gunned down after ringing the doorbell at a house in Walker County on November 27.

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

Fort will reportedly be joinedby clergy, community, labor, political, civil rights, and gun rights representatives including Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Atlanta NAACP, Georgia Gun Sense Clergy, Georgia Rural Urban Summit, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America, Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council, Young Democrats of Georgia, Young Democrats of America and Georgians for Gun Safety. A page for the event is set up on facebookby the Milleniums Movement.

Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition recently filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s stand your ground law, that included the families of two men affected by the law – James Christopher Johnson III, a 25 year-old African-American man, killed at a nightclub in March this year by a white man who was acquitted using stand your ground, and Herman Smith, Jr., 21, an African-American man sentenced to life in the killing of Cardarius Stegall at a birthday party last November.keep-calm-and-end-syg-laws
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72 Year-Old Man With Alzheimer’s Killed After Ringing Bell At Wrong House

WALKER COUNTY, Ga – In another example of “stand your ground” law gone wrong, a 72 year-old man suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease who had wandered away from his home was shot four times and killed early Wednesday after ringing the doorbell and turning a doorknob at a home in Georgia.

This is the second reported case this month of someone being killed after approaching a home in the middle of the night. On November 2, 19 year-old Renisha Mcbride was shot and killed in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

The man, Ronald Westbrook, of Walker County, who had one or two dogs with him, apparently wandered three miles away from a home he shared with his wife, who did not know he was gone until contacted by police. Suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s, Westbrook was wearing only a light jacket and straw hat in sub-freezing temperatures.

Georgia stand your ground vicitim Ronald Westbrook
Ronald Westbrook

He was killed about 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning by Joe Hendrix, 34, who, apparently thinking it was an intruder, went outside with a .40 caliber handgun to investigate, as his fiancée was on the phone with police. They had just moved into the home, at the end of a cul-de-sac, a few weeks ago.

Hendrix claimed Westbrook approached him, ignoring several commands to stop, and that he fired four times, killing Westbrook with a shot to the chest. Reports are that Westbrook had been diagnosed with dementia two years ago and was mute due to the Alzheimer’s.

Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, who was personally acquainted with Westbrook through church services, said the victim was likely lost and confused. He also said that, though he thinks Hendrix should not have gone outside the house, it doesn’t appear he violated any laws.

Hendrix has not been charged as an investigation of the shooting continues. Georgia has a stand your ground law – the “no duty to retreat” – which may justify the shooting. The district attorney must decide whether the case fits the criteria for stand your ground.

“We reserve our options and rights to file charges once the investigation is complete, if we feel like Georgia law warrants charges being filed,” Wilson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition recently filed a lawsuit against Georgia challenging the state’s stand your ground law.


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Stand Your Ground Hearings Highlight A Frenzy Of Activity

A new frenzy of activity involving stand your ground laws may soon have some gun-toting, second amendment quoting vigilante kooks shaking.

For the first time since neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Florida’s Senate recently held a hearing on changes to the state’s controversial stand-your-ground law, and new guidelines for deadly force and self-defense by neighborhood watch groups were approved by the state senate’s Judiciary Committee.

US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013
US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013

Then, last week, for the first time in history, the federal government held a U.S. Senate hearing on stand your ground laws in America.

A few days later, a new trial date was set for Marissa Alexander, the Florida victim of domestic violence who fired a warning shot into a wall, and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Why didn’t stand your ground work for her?

Marissa Alexander

The day after Alexander’s status hearing, Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push Coalition filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia in connection with two Georgia stand your ground cases.

This week, the next major hurdle takes place as a legislator in Florida leads a charge into the Florida House of Representatives to repeal stand your ground laws.

State Representative Alan Williams has introduced SB 4003, a bill calling for a full repeal of stand your ground laws in Florida. I received a call from his office a few days ago, urging a roundup of supporters for the bill at a state senate hearing before the House of Representatives in Tallahassee on Thursday, November 7th. Many opponents of stand your ground law, including the young activist group Dream Defenders, are expected to attend the hearing.

Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)
Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)

The resistance – to keep the law – is large, loud, and powerful. Williams wants his state, where it all started, to be the first to end stand your ground law. So far, most efforts to merely change the law in Florida have been blocked. But the movement to change the law is growing.

Both proponents and opponents can agree that stand your ground laws – as currently written – do not work. In fact, according to statistical research released by several groups, these laws do just the opposite of what they were intended to do,

Stand your ground laws expand the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and long-established Castle Doctrine. These new laws are reportedly designed to give legal, law-abiding citizens the right to defend themselves in the face of imminent death or injury – anywhere they have a right to be – without thinking first about how to defuse or get out of the situation (no duty to retreat).Florida Stand Your Ground Statute

That anywhere could literally be anywhere – a public place like a park, a school, an event, a niteclub, or at work. Or, in a private place, such as a back alley, in someone else’s home (as long as your’re invited), or at a private party. With a concealed-carry permit, you’re protected by the law – and whatever caliber steel you prefer, provided you can prove the imminent threat of death or injury by the other party.

Of course, a killer could still be charged with other crimes as a result, yet actually get away with murder, no time in jail, or less than the maximum sentence – because they claimed stand your ground immunity.

The Florida hearing on the bill to repeal is tomorrow. The NRA lobby is sure to be there. So the movement to end stand your ground laws must be larger, louder, and more powerful in order to jump this next hurdle.

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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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