Will legislature step up to the plate against Stand Your Ground? law

caines | 4/5/2012, 5 a.m.

Braynon calls for legislative hearings

Arguing that Floridas law, commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground, was never intended to be a blanket of protection for community vigilantes who think they can bypass law enforcement instructions and shoot anyone they see fit, State Senator Oscar Braynon, II, has called for Senate President Haridopolos to convene legislative hearings. Braynon wants to have formal discussion on the Senate Floor concerning the Trayvon Martin shooting. We know that racial profiling exists; we know how racial profiling goes, he said. It shouldnt be that, if you feel intimidated, you can pull a gun on someone and shoot them. Thats not the kind of law we need. More specifically, Braynon, 35, has asked the Legislature to take a closer look at the current law involving the claim of self-defense under the Stand Your Ground provisions of Florida Statute Chapter 776, how it is implemented, how state attorneys have been investigating and filing on such cases, how public defenders and other criminal defense attorneys have used the statute and how courts have been ruling on such cases. The ultimate goal is to decrease the number of incidents like that of Trayvons and discourage more individuals from deciding to become vigilantes resulting in more lives lost, he added. Braynon says what surprises him most is why it has taken state legislators so long to realize the problems and complications associated with the law. This law was passed rather easily in 2005, but justifiable homicide was already covered under several other different laws, he said. But this case with George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin is so glaring maybe it takes a bolt of lightning to wake us up. At the very least, we need a more objective investigation to take place. State Senator Gary Siplin, 57, has joined Braynon in his efforts. Both were part of press conference held a few days ago where they announced their plans. Blacks have been suffering for years in Sanford and many have gotten a raw deal, Siplin said. They have not gotten the memo. Some would say there is an attitude that lends itself to prejudice against Blacks and therefore encourages racial profiling. Before pointing fingers and making accusations, I believe we need a holistic plan that will get to the bottom of the issues, lack of resources and infrastructures that are currently in place in Sanford. The Orlando-based Siplin plans to take a team of both Democrats and Republicans to Sanford within the next 30 days. I want to make sure there is justice in the case of Trayvon Martin, but its also imperative that those Blacks that have been living on the plantation are finally freed, he said. Its about housing, jobs, economic development and health care. Since all of this blew up, I am hearing more and more troubling reports. Blacks are telling me that they are often forced to let officials search their cars without probable cause; many have been fingerprinted for no reason at all. Most say they are willing to do whatever whites tell them because they fear being imprisoned and then unable to post bond. We have to bring some swift changes to Florida and to Sanford. Siplin is also requesting that members of the Grand Jury be selected from outside of Sanford. In a memo to State Attorney Angela Corey, he writes, I implore you . . . to do what is right in the eyes of the citizens of Sanford by impaneling an unprejudiced Grand Jury in the investigation of this tragic death, or as within your authority, make a decision as to whether there is legal basis to arrest and charge Mr. Zimmerman of a crime as regards to Trayvon Martin. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com