Enough is enough, says Rev. Dr. R.B. Holmes, noting the list of young Black people dead or in jail in states where “stand your ground” laws are in place.
“Our young Black boys are being senselessly killed just for being Black teenagers,” said Holmes, who on March 25 announced the formation of the National Pastor’s Task Force, a nation wide coalition of 40 Black ministers who want to repeal or revise “stand your ground” laws.
“We have begun the fight in Florida and pledge to carry it across the nation,” said Holmes, pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla. and vice chairman of a Florida task force created in the wake of the shooting death in February 2012 of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
The coalition’s call for repeal of state laws allowing lethal force in self-defense is the latest organized opposition to “stand your ground” laws. On March 23, the Congressional Black Caucus issued a similar call.
Holmes was joined in his announcement at the National Press Club by the parents of Martin and Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was killed in November 2012 at a Florida gas station amid a dispute over loud music coming from a vehicle in which Jordan was a passenger. Michael Dunn, a White man, was tried for the shooting he said he committed out of fear of being attacked.
“Black and Brown boys do not benefit from the stand your ground law,” said Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin.
Fulton said the movement to scrub the law will bring awareness to the issue that profiling still exists in America and added that she is very optimistic that the “stand your ground” law can be changed.
On March 20, a bill to repeal the “stand your ground” law was rejected by Florida lawmakers.
Also present were the parents of former U.S. airman Michael Jiles who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for firing warning shots at a White attacker.
The group has the support of civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, and former Fulton County (Ga.) Juvenile Court Chief Judge Glenda Hatchett.
“We have real victims, Trayvon Martin was real, Jordan Davis was real,” said Crump. “I’m reminded of Ron Davis that said he and his son Jordan were watching the interviews with Trayvon Martin, watching the rallies with Trayvon Martin, never knowing just a few months later that he will be sitting in the same chair that Sabrina Fulton, Tracy Martin had to sit in burying their 17-year-old child.
We are talking about our children, and if we don’t stand for our children nobody is going to stand for our children.”