The Rev. Al Sharpton, radio host Tom Joyner and the parents of slain teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis are coming to Tallahassee on Monday to take part in a march and rally against Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
Also participating are family members of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy whose killing in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement, and Tallahassee attorneys Ben Crump and Daryl Parks, who represent Trayvon’s family.
Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, will lead the march starting at 9:30 a.m. from the Civic Center to the Capitol, where the rally will be held.
Sharpton said he wants to inform lawmakers about the national ramifications of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
“Florida was the first state to have (such) a law, signed by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005, and it spread out to over 20 states,” Sharpton said. “So now we must repeal it in Florida to change it all over the country.”
Trayvon, 17, was shot and killed Feb. 26, 2012, by George Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense during his murder trial and was acquitted. Jordan, also 17, was shot and killed Nov. 23, 2012, by Michael David Dunn, who fired into the boy’s SUV after an argument over loud music. Dunn was convicted on attempted-murder charges but a jury deadlocked on a murder charge against him.
The jury in the Zimmerman trial was given instructions reflecting a 2005 change in Florida law that removed a duty to retreat and justified the use of deadly force in response to a threat of death or great bodily harm. Florida was the first state to adopt such an extension of the Castle Doctrine.
Last year, Democratic lawmakers and groups including the Dream Defenders called for repeal of Stand Your Ground; the Dream Defenders’ month-long sit-in at the Capitol last summer grew out of the Zimmerman verdict.
Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, sponsored a bill to repeal Stand Your Ground, but it was defeated in committee. Gov. Rick Scott also declined to call a special session on the law, saying he supported Stand Your Ground.
Stand Your Ground has already prompted protest and outrage at the Capitol this legislative season. On Monday, the eve of the 2014 legislative session, the NAACP held its first Moral Monday rally in part to speak out against Stand Your Ground. On Tuesday, the Dream Defenders protested loudly inside the Capitol during opening-day session ceremonies.
State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, has invited the parents of Trayvon and Jordan, along with other families touched by Stand Your Ground, to testify Monday before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Smith, vice chair of the committee, is working with the legislation’s original sponsor, Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, to rework the law.