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Are “Stand Your Ground” Laws Racist? A Comparison on the Killings of Renisha McBride and Trayvon Martin – MMXLII

Are “Stand Your Ground” Laws Racist? A Comparison on the Killings of Renisha McBride and Trayvon Martin

“In both life and death, Black men and women like Renisha McBride have their lives criminalized and bodies devalued by a system that too often does not protect them. Shoot First laws have no place in a society that values fairness and public safety.” – Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange

Demonstrators in Florida and Michigan have used the same language to describe the shootings of two young African Americans. But the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and Renisha McBride this month raise different legal questions along the touchy intersection of race and guns.

Both Martin, 17, and McBride, 19, were unarmed when they were shot. The people who killed them —  George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin in Florida, and Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., a white man arraigned Friday afternoon on charges of murder in the death of McBride  — say the shootings were justified.

But for civil rights activists, the two slayings are symptoms of the same condition: A society that undervalues the life of people of color and a legal system that makes it hard to prosecute those who kill. Civil rights group across the political spectrum, joined by members of the Obama administration, including Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., have questioned so-called stand your ground laws that expand how the idea of self-defense is applied.

“Theodore Wafer will stand trial for his deadly actions; prosecutors and law enforcement have determined that Wafer did not act in lawful self-defense under Michigan’s so-called ‘Stand Your Ground’  or ‘Shoot First’ law,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, which describes itself as the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.

Read the full Op-ed at LATimes.com


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