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Rep. Frederica Wilson holds discussions on SYG law, Trayvon Martin

Rep. Frederica Wilson holds discussions

Rep. Frederica Wilson holds discussions

Rep. Frederica Wilson holds discussions on SYG law, Trayvon Martin

L-r  Jahvaris Fulton,  Florida State Senator Chris Smith, U.S Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, Florida State Representative Perry Thurston, Florida State Senator Oscar Braynon, Florida State Representative Barbara Watson, Florida State Representative Sharon Pritchett, Florida State Representative Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, Miami Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan and Dream Defenders Leadership Council Kimberly Gonzalez.

By Derek Joy

They convened discussions and a press conference on a path leading to an uphill battle to get Gov. Rick Scott and Republican dominated State Legislature to revisit, if not amend, Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Dem., Miami, was joined by six State Legislators, County Commissioner Barbara Jordan and members of the Dream Defenders.

“We find ourselves as a state, the state of Florida, in a crisis right now,” said Wilson. “We just had a horrible incident.  We lost one of our young men, Trayvon Martin. And George Zimmerman was acquitted.

“We feel helpless now. We’re

not sure what to do. There’s so much racism, so much discrimination. I can see we’re on the cusp of the next civil rights movement. People are ready to take it to the next level. And we want to let the Dream Defenders know we are 100-percent behind them until hell freezes over.”

Wilson, Jordan, State Senator Chris Smith (Dem., Fort Lauderdale), Florida State House Minority Leader Rep. Perry Thurston (Dem., Plantation), Rep.  Gwyndolen Clark Reed (Dem., Pompano), State Senator Oscar Braynon II, (Dem., Miami Gardens), Rep. Barbara Watson, (Dem., Miami Gardens) and Rep. Sharon Pritchett, (Dem., Miami Gardens) spoke passionately.

Each spoke in support of the Dream Defenders and their pursuit of justice for the family of Trayvon Martin and the need to amend the SYG law.

Ironically, the discussions proceeded as the American Bar Association – Black American Lawyers – were holding their annual convention at the Fountainbleau Hotel and Resort on Miami Beach. They, too, find fault with, and oppose, Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.

“They’re bringing a lot of issues in the criminal justice system,” said Smith, acknowledging the efforts of the Dream Defenders.  “We have a civilized society in Florida.  It’s not where people should be shooting at one another.  We have to make sure our youth grow up in a safe society.”

Smith was shut out of Scott’s hand- picked task force that performed a cursory review of SGY.  He independently held public hearings with a panel composed of attorneys, educators and other professionals.

“The task force put together by the Governor did not include people from this community.  We did have a chance for our voices to be heard,” added Wilson, in criticizing the dictatorial approach used by Scott and the Republican majority in the Florida State Legislature.

A touchy aspect of the SYG, according to each of the elected officials in attendance, is the provision used by Zimmerman’s attorneys to gain a verdict of not guilty.

According to Smith, the SGY takes precedence over the Florida Statute that allows murder charges against the “aggressor” in an incident in which the victim is killed, like the circumstances in Martin’s Feb. 26, 2012, shooting in Sanford, Fla.

Said Wilson:  “When a little Black boy can walk down a street where he belongs, then made to fight, made to defend himself and murdered.  And you have the killer walk free.

“This is a very serious issue.  We can’t walk around with our eyes closed, pretending nothing has happened. The spotlight is here because this is where Trayvon lived.  The scene of the crime is Tallahassee.”

Smith filed Senate Bill 136 last year without any reception from Senate Republicans.  That Bill would have amended the SYG law to strengthen the law against aggressors getting away with murder.  He plans to re-file the Bill during the next Legislative Session.

While assessing the potential damage the SGY, Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal could cripple the tourism industry, which fuels Florida’s economy, Wilson said the whole situation is at the boiling point.

“Boiling point simply means people want to see action,” Thurston explained.  “The Dream Defenders want to see a total evaluation of the criminal justice system.  We all do.”

Wilson assured those in attendance that the U. S. Justice Department is currently reviewing the Zimmerman case to determine if he violated Martin’s civil rights and committed hate crimes.

She also pointed out that jurors were allowed visitors while being sequestered, something else being looked at by the Justice Department.

When asked if a Black picked a fight with Zimmerman and killed him, what would happen?

“He would be in prison today,” Wilson replied matter-of-factly. “This isn’t a Republican issue or Democrat issue.  This is not a Black thing.  This is about profiling.  From the start to the finish, this is about profiling,” Wilson said.


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