Mitch Perry Report 2.19.14: Once again, a request to review Stand Your Ground

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  • Jordan Davis

Yesterday in Tallahassee, a group of black lawmakers and community members held a press conference to call for a thorough study of Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, specifically to determine whether it has an unequal impact on young black men. The call comes days after the hung jury result on the murder count of Jordan Davis in the Michael Dunn trial in Jacksonville on Saturday. Dunn was found guilty on four other counts that could bring him more than 60 years in prison.

As reported by Bill Cotterell in the Florida Current, State Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Miami) said if black gun owners had shot white teens, the Legislature would have repealed SYG a long time ago, referencing the acquittal of Casey Anthony, who was accused of killing her toddler daughter Caylee.

"We can't ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room. At the end of the day, if the race roles were reversed in both instances, there would be a full-on repeal," Bullard said. "Within one year after Casey Anthony's trial, we had Caylee's Law on the books to make sure that any individual lying to the police would have gone to jail. What makes this instance any different?"

If the race of shooter and victim were reversed, Bullard said, "The fervor would be so loud, the outcry would have been so overwhelming, that we would have had this done two years ago.”

Bullard told CL earlier this year that, although he'd like to see SYG repealed, he knows that's completely unrealistic considering the support the measure has in the Legislature. But he did want to see some significant tweaks.

Although some legal beagles on network TV have suggested that SYG was not a significant part of the Dunn case (nor the George Zimmerman case for that matter, they maintain), the issue of race certainly was.

Then again, race certainly wasn't in play in Pasco County last month when 71-year-old retired Tampa Police Captain Curtis Reeves pulled out his gun and shot 43-year-old Chad Oulson during their dispute in a movie theater, claiming he felt threatened. Is Reeves now going to pull an SYG defense? Might that concentrate some minds more in Talllahassee, particularly if he were to be found innocent, absurd as that might seem right now?

The fact of the matter is this country and especially this state has a serious problem with guns, and a law like Stand Your Ground only exacerbates that problem. It needs to be corrected, or more of these cases will continue to proliferate in Florida.

Meanwhile, yesterday in Orlando, there was a heated state Board of Education meeting where about 100 people showed up to protest the new state-education standards that aren't officially called the Common Core, but in fact are those standards, with some tweaks.

Maybe the Tea Party contingent that denounced the standards aren't that many in number, but they seem to be coming directly from Rick Scott's political base. And they warned if he didn't get with the program, their ardent support for him could be missing in this re-election year.

Another day in the CD13 race, another Washington-based group spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for an ad trashing one of the main players in the race. This time it's Alex Sink who is the target, in an ad that depicts her as a completely bad person, in part because she made so much money while working as a banker, something we didn't know that Republicans disapproved of.

And remember John Dingfelder? The former Tampa City Councilman is campaigning this year again, but not for political office. Instead he hopes to become a judge in Hillsborough County.

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