This past Thursday the Florida House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing, debate, and vote on HB-4003, the proposed bill that would be repealed “Stand-Your-Ground” and other legal protections for those defend themselves in their homes, and vehicles. As I’ve mentioned in other coverage, the bill was soundly defeated by an 11-2 vote of the committee (See “Repeal of “Stand-Your-Ground” voted down in Florida House Committee”).
The hearing really consisted of five discrete segments:
(1) Rep. Williams, the sponsor of HB-4003, spoke about the importance of repealing HB-4003 and answered questions from the Judiciary Committee members.
(2) Testimony in favor of, and in opposition to, the bill was offered by “professionals” in the community. By “professionals” I mean people who make their living involved in the criminal justice system, in community activism, or as part of the race-hate industry. It was here that we heard from representatives of the Florida Sheriff’s association, the state’s association of prosecutors, and of public defenders.
We also heard testimony from a local chapter of the NAACP, a law partner of Benjamin Crump, perhaps best known to this audience as the lawyer representing the parents of Trayvon Martin, and the organizer of the “Dream Defenders” youths who had occupied the Florida State House in the aftermath of the Zimmerman acquittal. All three of these latter gentlemen were Black.
We also heard testimony here from two Black parents who had lost sons in circumstances that may or may not have involved issues of Stand-Your-Ground. I put them in the “professional” category because (a) at least one of them, McBath, appears to be making something of a profession of traveling the country and speaking on this issue (although the killer of her son is currently on trial for murder, so to date it seems justice is being served), and (b) to differentiate them from other public speakers who address the issues absent the distorting lens of having lost a child.
(3) Public testimony from any person who wished to appear before the committee and speak in favor of, or in opposition to, HB-4003. In this case there were 14 persons who spoke in favor of HB-4003 (and therefore against Stand-Your-Ground), and 16 persons who spoke in opposition to HB-4003 (and therefore in defense of Stand-Your-Ground). (I should note, however, that the actual numbers were not nearly as balanced as this suggests–about as many persons in opposition of HB-4003 appeared before the committee and registered to speak, but then waived their time in favor of others also opposed.)
(4) The Committee members who wished to make their own public comments then did so (not all wished to do so). If you like you can view their comments, in the sequence made, here:
(5) The Committee members voted on HB-4003, with 11 voting against and 2 voting in favor. Click here to view the roll-call vote.
ZERO Black adults spoke against Stand-Your-Ground during “Nonprofessional” Public Testimony
Perhaps no aspect of the FL Judiciary Hearing struck me as much as did the nature of the “nonprofessionals” who came to testify in favor of HB-4003, and against “Stand-Your-Ground”. Why? Because there was not a single Black adult among them. Not one. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Apparently the supporters of HB-4003 were unable to find a single Black adult to speak against Stand-Your-Ground unless they were (1) either professionally engaged in the race-hate industry or (2) a parent who had personally lost a child in an arguably SYG situation.
Of the 14 “nonprofessional” people providing testimony before the committee, only two were adults (and by “adults” I mean beyond college-age).
Both of these adults were white people:
The remaining twelve “nonprofessionals” testifying in favor of HB-4003 were all black, and also all of high-school or college age. (Indeed, nearly half of these ought arguably to be placed in the “professional” category, as five of them wore T-shirts identifying themselves as “Dream Defenders,” a political activist group organized specifically to oppose Stand-Your-Ground laws.) I present the images below in the order of their testimony–all names are spelled phonetically, and my apologies before hand for the invariable misspellings.
Sharp Contrast with Public Testifying Against HB-4003, and FOR Stand-Your-Ground
In sharp contrast to the black high school and college students who testified in favor of HB-4003 and against Stand-Your-Ground, those alternating speakers who were opposed to HB-4003 were consistently well into their adult years, and were not present because they were representing an activist political group or had personally lost a child to an purported “Stand-Your-Ground” scenario.
You can view their testimony here:
One would have to speculate as to why no adult Black people felt it worth their time to show up and testify for HB-4003 and against Stand-Your-Ground, especially when so many adults were able to appear to testify against HB-4003 and in favor of Stand-Your-Ground (at least 16 such opponents actually spoke, many more were present to speak but waived their time to other opponents of HB-4003).
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.
In addition to the book, Andrew also conducts Law of Self Defense Seminars all around the country, with upcoming seminars scheduled for Atlanta GA (11/16), and Epping NH (11/24, at the SigSauer Academy, where Andrew is a Guest Instructor). Click here for reviews of recently completed seminars in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, and elsewhere.