TALLAHASSEE — Every night for the last three weeks about 50 young protesters have slept on the stone floor of Florida’s state Capitol building in a bid to change the state’s Stand Your Ground self-defence law.
Calling themselves “Dream Defenders”, and inspired by the 1960s African-American civil rights movement, the protesters want to change a law they blame for the acquittal this month of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Their nights of sleeping in blankets and living off fast food are unlikely to lead to a repeal or major reform of Stand Your Ground, political analysts say.
Such a move is virtually out of the question in Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature, according to analysts.
“Gun rights are big, especially with the blue dog Democrats that Republicans need in Florida,” said Lance deHaven-Smith, a political scientist at Florida State University. “This law is not repealable. Certainly not by the present legislature.”
The Zimmerman case sparked a debate on Stand Your Ground legislation that in 2005 amended the statute governing Florida’s self-defence law. The amendment allows a person in fear of serious injury to use deadly force to defend themselves rather than retreat. Jurors in Florida said the law left them no option but to acquit Zimmerman for the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.
Martin’s grieving parents, backed by African-American civic leaders, students and politicians, including Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, all say the Stand Your Ground law needs to be re-examined. (Reuters)