The recent shooting of a 17-year-old Black teenager has spurred new discussion of the law.
The controversy over Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law is intensifying after the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis at a gas station in Jacksonville.
“The level of frustration is high regarding this law,” said Alan B. Williams, a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, speaking with BET.com. “People are outraged that there is violence against young men of color, that they can be gunned down and that there is no recourse. A lot of people feel their communities are under attack.”
Davis, a Black youth, was shot to death by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white man who objected to the loud music coming from the car in which Davis and three other African-American teenagers were riding on Nov 23. After the shooting, Dunn told police that he saw a shotgun emerge from one of the SUV windows. He then fired a handgun up to nine times before driving away from the scene. Police officers said that the teenagers in the vehicle were unarmed.
Dunn, who works as a software engineer, was charged with murder and attempted murder on the day following the shooting of Davis. His lawyer has stated that he is considering using the state’s "Stand Your Ground" law as a defense of the shooting.
In doing so, Dunn and his lawyer have unleashed much of the criticism and condemnation voiced by civil rights groups, academics and elected officials toward the controversial law following the shooting of 17-year-old Black teenager Trayvon Martin.
Under the "Stand Your Ground" law, a resident of Florida is allowed to use deadly force if he or she believes there is the prospect of mortal danger. It essentially enables people who have shot or killed others to involve a plea of self-defense. Advocates of the law say that it protects people from life-threatening circumstances.
“It is another high-profile example that has captured the public’s attention,” said Marcus Bright, an adjunct professor of public administration at Florida Atlantic University, speaking with BET.com.
“I think that more and more, people are looking at the law more critically and they see the difference between 'Stand Your Ground' and the normal self-defense law. This case has placed a brighter spotlight on this issue.”
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(Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)