Nearly seven months after Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law ignited a national controversy, civil rights groups and local citizens urged a state-appointed task force on Friday to repeal the law.
“Repeal it. It doesn’t help,” a Miami-area resident, Ruby Mosely, told a hearing of the Stand Your Ground Task Force, the Miami Herald
reports. Her son died two years ago – and one of the alleged perpetrators is expected to use stand your ground for immunity. “We have a law for self-defense. What was the purpose of this law?”
The 17-member panel, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, has been holding hearings throughout the state. Representatives of such groups as the NAACP, the Urban League, and the League of United Latin American Citizens spoke at the Friday session, the Herald reports.
The 2005 law removes the duty to retreat if a person fears great bodily harm or death from an attacker. It stipulates that a person who kills someone under such circumstances is immune from arrest and offers someone who is criminally charged a chance to get a hearing before a judge. That judge can offer immunity. The law also applies to civil court.
Many Florida residents support the law and believe it saves law-abiding citizens from protracted criminal trials for crimes they did not commit.
The law exploded nationally when Sanford Police cited it as the reason neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was not initially arrested after he shot teenager Trayvon Martin in a scuffle in February.
Zimmerman said it was self-defense, and because there was no immediate evidence to disprove that, he went home. He is awaiting trial.
The ensuing controversy led to a special prosecutor, criminal charges, and the task force.
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