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Minority Office — Press Release


July 18, 2013

CONTACT: Michelle DeMarco, 850.487.5833

Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith Calls On Florida Legislative Leadership To “#HearTheBills” Amending “Stand Your Ground”

Ft. Lauderdale —

 Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale), flanked by Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz and Ft. Lauderdale Police Chief Franklin Adderley, joined House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston (D-Ft. Lauderdale) on Thursday to call on the legislative leadership  to begin the debate on changes to Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.

 “Why do they fear this debate?” asked Senator Smith, who is re-filing his legislation amending Stand Your Ground which was not heard during this year’s legislative session. “We have a clear case that shows SYG has very troubling problems, and those problems are central to the well being of Floridians. These changes do not affect a person’s right to self defense. But they stop the ability to hide behind self defense when you bring yourself to a fight.”

 Assembling alongside the officials were representatives from the NAACP, Jewish and Christian congregations, LGBT community leaders, and high school student government members calling on the public to channel their concerns over the verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin into a massive Twitter (#HearTheBills)  and email campaign to amend the contentious law.

 “The common sense changes to SYG in this bill include some a Republican Senator recommended, said Senator Smith. “Stand Your Ground was supposed to be about improving public safety. But unless these changes are adopted, no one is truly safe and everyone is fair game.”

 Among the provisions included in Senator Smith’s proposed bill are:

  • Eliminating the grant of immunity if the Defendant took himself to the fight when he could have stayed in a safe place instead
  • Specifying that immunity is not available to aggressors
  • Specifying that immunity provisions do not restrict law enforcement agencies’ right and duty to fully and completely investigate use of force cases when a person claims immunity/self-defense
  • Providing less confusing language for adopting jury instructions: justifiable use of deadly force is allowed only when a threat is imminent, and when a person cannot safely avoid the danger before resorting to the use of deadly force.
  • Requiring sheriffs/police to issue guidelines for neighborhood watch programs which would prohibit neighborhood watch participants from pursuing and confronting suspects.