Florida A&M’s “Florida Stand Your Ground” served as a thought-provoking alternative to the usual tailgating and partying offered during homecoming.
The panelists discussed the past, present and future of the Stand Your Ground law. The purpose of the forum was to help, not only students but also some faculty and staff, understand what it means for them.
“The right people are here to form where we are, why we’re here and who we are,” said Gary Yordon, the moderator of the forum.
The forum included panelists Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin; Attorney Benjamin Crump, Willie Meggs, State Attorney, 2nd Judicial Circuit?Nancy Daniels, Public Defender, 2nd Judicial Circuit?Craig Brown, Criminal Defense Attorney?Josh Zelman, Criminal Defense Attorney and?Sydney Upshaw-Cravey, President, Hatchett Pre-Law Society.
Also in attendance was the family of Kendrick Johnson. The event started with a video outlining the different reactions to the “not guilty” verdict. Then, was followed by words from Martin.
“There is nothing that we can say or do that’s going to bring Trayvon back,” he said. “It’s what we do from this point on.”
According to state senator, Alan Williams, they aren’t trying to get rid of the law completely but make modifications to it. The Stand Your Ground law currently gives individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation.
Attorney Benjamin Crump said the lawmakers created, what he calls, a “solution looking for a problem.”
Since the jury finding Zimmerman not guilty, many criminals have been getting away with murder. Cravey said criminals are now just claiming self-defense when they murder someone.
“It’s not making our streets safer,” Williams said. “It’s making them more dangerous.”
The panelists went on to talk about how the government and politicians try to make the law about gun control and changing the gun laws. But panelist Williams disagreed.
“It’s not about gun control, its about self control,” he said.
The panel also argued that no one is safe anymore and that someone can just get shot because of how they’re dressed or the color of their skin.
“I think it’s a racial profiling thing,” Cravey said.
Yordon interrupted and asked students, faculty and staff to raise their hand if they knew about the Stand Your Ground law, in its entirety. The crowd responded with only a few hands.
Cravey discussed with the panelists and the crowd that she was going to law school to become a prosecutor because “we need more African Americans” in those positions. Daniels agreed and added that even as a public defender, she wants to see more African Americans in her position.
The forum was an eye opener for the students, faculty and staff.
“It sparked something that needed to be sparked on campus here,’ said Melanie Andrade, a third-year English student and FAMU chapter president for the Dream Defenders.