Authorized Murder

I am very concerned about domestic terrorism in the United States. There have many incidents of domestic terrorism motivated by race. As an African American woman this subject is very important to me. I have watched many people participate in protests following the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland just to name a few. I appreciate the fact that people want to take some action to fight racism and an unjust criminal system. I believe that people need to be informed about laws that support domestic terrorism motivated by race. So this post will discuss "Castle Doctrine" and how it was expanded into "Stand Your Ground Law."

What is the Castle Doctrine? The Castle Doctrine is a legal doctrine that allows an individual's abode or legally occupied space to be protected by self-defense or by deadly force.  Steve Jansen & M. Elaine Nugent-Borakove  Expansions to the Castle Doctrine: Implications For Policy and Practice stated the following. " This legislation has been and defined as "Castle Doctrine" or "No-retreat- laws" has followed the English Common law. It has allowed individuals the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to protect themselves or others against an intruder in their homes." (p. 3)

Steve Jansen & M. Elaine Nugent-Borakove argued that there are problematic areas of the Castle Doctrine. Their argument was supported by this statement. " The first state to legally expand the Castle Doctrine was Florida, which enacted the Personal Protection Bill on October 1, 2005. The new law extends the right to self-defense with no duty to retreat to places outside the home, such a place of business, a motor vehicle, or anywhere a person has a legal right to be. It also provides civil and criminal immunity if the defender harmed someone while acting in accordance with the law." (p. 5)

The Expansion of the Castle Doctrine As stated before on October 1, 2005 the Personal Protection Bill was lobbied in the state of Florida by then governor Jeb Bush and the National Rifle Association ( NRA).  There is a key distinction between the Castle Doctrine and the Personal Protection Bill in Florida later known as 'Stand Your Ground.' In the state of Florida an individual outside of their home or workplace has duty to use all reasonable means to avoid an attack before responding with deadly force. Said differently, under this law the duty to retreat is eliminated and there are primary areas of concern. This law incites an opportunity to escalate a situation based on biased assumptions.

The Birth of Stand Your Ground
Steve Jansen & M. Elaine Nugent-Borakove place more emphasis on two specific sections of the Florida Protection Bill also known as 'Stand Your Ground Law.' The first section  of the bill in Florida suggest that a person may use force, including deadly force, when or she "reasonably" believes that force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. While the second section, established a new standard that was not  seen in the previous common law.
 " It provides that a person is presumed to have reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary if the person against whom the force was used had entered if the person against whom the force was used had entered or was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering a dwelling or occupied vehicle, or if that person was attempting to remove another person against that person's will." (p. 6)

Traditionally, in the United States of America there has been legislation that supports racial profiling based on racist stereotypes. These negative assumptions have affected the lives African Americans. Researchers John Noman & Mitchell Downey examined homicide data and found cases that resembled the Trayvon Martin murder. In their research they found disparities regarding race. "When white shooters will kill black victims, 34% of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable, while only 3.3% of deaths are ruled justifiable when the shooter is black and the victim is white."

One presidential candidate that has resonated with me is Republican candidate Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush served as the governor of Florida from 1999-2007. He has been adamant about his support of the 'Stand Your Ground' Law.' Alex Pappas " Jeb Praises Stand Your Ground Law" provides insight on the former governor's support of this controversial law.
"You shouldn't have to choose between being attacked or going to jail," Bush said. "The only thing you should be worried about is keeping yourself and your loved ones safe."

Expansions to the Castle Doctrine: Implications for Policy and Practice
Steven Jansen & M. Elaine Nugent-Borakove

Shoot First : "Stand Your Ground" Laws & Their Effect On Violence Crime and the Criminal Justice System
National Urban League, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and

The Daily Caller
Jeb Praises 'Stand Your Ground Law'
Alex Pappas

Toni's Thoughts: I believe that my community has been the victim of domestic terrorism for many years. This terrorism has manifested through the actions of the Klu Klux Klan, the police institution, and legislation that intentionally impedes the progress of the African American community. Jeb Bush's support of 'Stand Your Ground Law' is absolutely bogus to me. George Zimmerman was wrong for following and attacking Travyon Martin. Zimmerman's family  and home was not in danger when he encountered Trayvon Martin.


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