Repealing "Stand Your Ground" Type Laws, Protecting Black Americans and Honoring the Life of Trayvon Martin
WHEREAS, on February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot to death while walking home from his local 7-11 because he was deemed "suspicious" by George Zimmerman- a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain; and
WHEREAS, Trayvon Martin was not found with a gun, only with skittles, soda and wearing a sports hoodie; and
WHEREAS, Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law includes an "immunity provision" that protects the shooter from arrest unless police can determine that the force used was indeed unlawful; and
WHEREAS, these laws eliminate the "duty to retreat" and such duty should be an initial action taken to maintain calm in any potential situation that could result in harm or deadly force; and
WHEREAS, on October 1, 2005, Florida became the first state in the Union to pass the "Personal Protection Bill," which greatly expands the "Castle Doctrine," eliminating the requirement to retreat in cases of defending ones house against intruders, which has become known as the "Stand Your Ground" law; and
WHEREAS, since that time, 32 more states have copied at least part, if not all, of Florida's statute; and at least five (5) states, including Florida, have an "immunity provision"; and
WHEREAS, "justifiable homicides," murders in which the perpetrator has not been charged with murder, usually drastically increase after the implementation of these laws - in Florida for example, such homicides increased by 300% in a five-year period, and FBI data indicates that the same is true for other states; and
WHEREAS, if the reckless and misguided intent of the "Stand Your Ground" law is to create safer communities, one might expect to see a decrease in crime. However, the 2006 Florida annual crime statistics indicate just the opposite result. Although other crimes decreased in 2006, gun crimes, including murders, armed robberies, and assaults increased. In fact, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website as of June 25, 2007, murders increased statewide by 42%; and
WHEREAS, groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - who promotes conservative public policy by drafting legislation and pushing for policies in state legislatures - and the NRA have promoted "Stand Your Ground" laws across the country.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP - in honor of the life of Trayvon Martin and similar cases, and because "Stand Your Ground" type laws undermine the civil rights of African Americans and other people of color- initiate a national effort to halt the expansion of "Stand Your Ground" type laws, and repeal those existing throughout the country; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its commitment to the enactment, at the federal, state and local levels, of safe, sane and sensible gun laws, as well as aggressive anti-racial profiling laws, which include training from the top law enforcement officials down to the members of community watch groups as how to identify racial profiling and not use it; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls upon its Units to move from moment to movement and use this opportunity of heightened awareness to promote education on how our communities can protect themselves from these "Stand Your Ground" laws and their unequal application; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP call for the federal review of state "Stand Your Ground" laws to include racially disaggregated data in regards to the race, ethnicity and gender of the perpetrator and the victim of the "self defense" homicide.