Florida's Stand Your Ground Law & Race Relations

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A man with hoodie watches the speakers on the steps of the Capitol Building in Tallahassee, Florida at a Rally March for Trayvon Martin. (SteveNakatani/flickr)

This past weekend, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. It’s a verdict that’s outraged many, and led to debates around the country about race relations, justice and the particular laws and social climate of Florida.

As T.D. Allman sees it, the focus on Florida is warranted—not just because the case reflects the unique history of Florida—but also because the state is a microcosm of the rest of the United States.

T.D. Allman is the author of many books, including “Finding Florida.” He joins The Takeaway to reflect on Florida and the state's history as it relates to race relations.

Stay up to date with The Takeawaybecome a Facebook fan & follow us on Twitter!

Guests:

T. D. Allman

Hosted by:

John Hockenberry

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [19]

James Manning from TENNESSEE

For the guestS that continue to tell us that there should be none of this discrimination of black young men (like our president) I offer the following rational.
Statistics on incarcerated African-American males has been taken by several studies on a specific age group, geographical location, causes of incarceration. Approximately 12%-13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up 40.1% of the almost 2.1 million male inmates in jail or prison (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009).[1] Census data for 2000 of the number and race of all individuals incarcerated in the United States revealed the proportion of blacks in prison populations exceeded the proportion among state residents; the percent of blacks incarcerated was five times greater than the resident population.
Now even if we assume that there is a vendetta against black young men, it would be hard to imagine that this degree of disproportion exists unless they are engaged in a much higher degree of violence, theft, drugs, and other offenses that produce incarceration.
In our town we are 50% black and fully 85% of our crime is by black citizens. SO, DO NOT ASSUME THAT IT IS BIAS OR RACIAL PREJUDICE THAT CAUSES ME TO BE AFRAID OF THEM. IT IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE EARNED THAT REPUTATION.

Jul. 23 2013 05:22 PM
Ldiaz from Tallahassee

Gov. Rick Scott needs to clear his building! This is stupidity. My tax dollars go toward supporting these thugs. I had a lot of sympathy for the parents until they got on tv last night, they pretend their kid was a saint. Its a realty that the kid was trouble, she never mentioned she kicked him out. It's all about money and greed. Stand YOUR ground Gov. Scott. If some of us aren't there to support you, it's because we have to work to support the beggars that are in your streets

Jul. 19 2013 08:59 AM
Sharon Hasenjaeger from Oregon

Why are we trying to cram all our nasty 'us vs them' stuff into one difficult criminal case? Let's got on with owning up to the hard truth that we need to get beyond bigotry, mistrust, lack of open-hearted care for one another, and reliance on lethal weapons to something better.

Jul. 18 2013 01:24 PM
Jeff from Minneapolis, MN

[When i was in MY home i used heard America best country the world.
Today I live in America there is no justice for MINORITIES.
Like MUSLIMS. BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN since i come here 1993 .] *** Seriously? This is why immigration is such a huge issue, you come from Somalia where the country is run by warlords and jihad groups...people are killed on the street daily by these same groups for no good reason. Yet you're upset because two young men got into a confusing situation where one swung at the other and the injured man shot the other as he was being assaulted? Not only did that happen, we had an entire trial taking weeks to sift through all the information available to determine if the man who fired his gun did so in self defense. Yes, America is so awful, it's a horrible place. I have a suggestion, please go back to your country of origin and fix that mess before you even attempt to criticize the country that took you in and answered your request for asylum.

Jul. 17 2013 02:51 PM
John from Wilmington, De

I had never heard this show before, since it is new to my local NPR station, WHYY. I was really taken aback by this segment, where the guest engaged in hyperbolic rhetoric about Florida and its laws, without any reasonable insight, analysis, or respect for an opposing viewpoint. After years of listening to Talk of the Nation, I was disappointed that the host did not challenge the guest or provide any perspective.
I'll turn on cable news if I want provocative one-sided talking points. I expect better from NPR. I hope this segment is not representative of the whole program.

Jul. 16 2013 07:19 PM
Garad Jama from MN

When i was in MY home i used heard America best country the world.
Today I live in America there is no justice for MINORITIES.
Like MUSLIMS. BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN since i come here 1993 .

Jul. 16 2013 06:07 PM
Anna from Washington State

If it is ok for Zimmerman to stand his ground why is it not ok for Trayvon Martin to stand his ground? A man was following him in a car. This man got out of the car and I wonder what Trayvon thought was about to happen. Trayvon tried to stand his ground and ended up shot dead. It is not an accident. Zimmerman instigated the confrontation that ended when he shot Trayvon. In my opinion that is manslaughter.

Jul. 16 2013 05:15 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Standing your racist ground, I mean grounding your racist stand

Jul. 16 2013 04:00 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

@ drolma from eugene OR

I'm sorry, where was it shown that Zimmerman accosted Martin?

He followed him, oh my. I guess I better stop walking in my neighborhood if there's anyone else out there. They might attack me because I'm following them!

Martin had every right to be where he was, but so did Zimmerman!

Jul. 16 2013 03:59 PM
James

Mr. Allman implied that Florida's "stand your ground" law was relevant to this case, but it was not. And he suggested that black people, such as Trayvon Martin, if followed by a non-black, they have the "right to fight back." The relevant word here is "back." If Martin "threw the first punch," as the jury believed and as the evidence makes the most reasonable inference, then he was not fighting "back," he was instead initiating a violent confrontation. And if Mr. Allman would suggest that merely being watched and followed when you are a stranger in a Neighborhood Watch community (where signs to that effect were prominently on display) is sufficient provocation to warrant initiating a violent attack - in other words if that's what he means by "fighting back" - I would question his ethical standards and his ability to think critically if not his sanity.

Jul. 16 2013 03:59 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

Could the guest possibly be more full of dung?

This not guilty verdict says it's fine to harass blacks?

I'm sorry he's incapable of understanding beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn't matter if you THINK he did it. The jury had to be CONVINCED beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution did not do so. The only way the jury could have found other than they did would be by completely disregarding the oaths they took as jurors.

The not guilty verdict in no way says "what happened is just fine."

Please, let's stay realistic here

Jul. 16 2013 03:56 PM
drolma from eugene OR

Thanks for the interview with TD Allman.....I learned a few new things about Florida and about racism in this country. The comments before me seem to miss the point of the interview.

That a guy could follow and get out of his car to follow closer and demand to know what he is doing walking down a street, then get into a fight with the person he is literally stalking like prey and shoot them....and get acquited because he has a right to shoot an unarmed kid, standing his ground in a fight he provoked....WOW....a travesty of justice.

It was interesting that the jury was split--3 for acquit 3 to convict. Maybe they just got tired of deliberating and rather than calling a hanged jury they went for acquital. Grossly unfair trial.

Jul. 16 2013 03:09 PM
listener

"What we have to do when we look at Florida is see the darkness in ourselves"

Oh, brother.

Jul. 16 2013 03:07 PM
Jeff from Minneapolis, MN

Okay, wow, this is worse than I thought...the guest is projecting racism upon another group of people...he's spouting all sorts of stereotypes and the host refuses to challenge him. I will stand with that woman who received 20 years for firing a warning shot. The sad thing is that this is about a media agenda who refuses to cover the woman who got 20 years because it doesn't fit their agenda! An african-american woman using a gun to fend off an abusive partner is the last thing Piers Morgan wants to talk about on his show...so it gets ignored. I did enjoy the massive number of liberal solutions to all our problems at the end of the broadcast.

Jul. 16 2013 03:01 PM
Jeff from Minneapolis, MN

I'm guessing this will be another bashing of stand your ground laws. You have one single guest who wrote a book against Florida along with a very bias host along with a show centered in NYC (where guns are viewed as evil and people actually accept stop and frisk laws). Without stand your ground laws you are literally required to turn your back on a criminal who pulls a gun on you and get shot in the back before you can use your own firearm. Then the prosecution of the case depends on public opinion (i.e. racial makeup of those involved plays a role) as well as the political tendencies or ambitions of the prosecutor to determine if the case will move forward. With stand your ground the case never goes beyond the initial investigation if there is reasonable cause to believe the case was self defense.

Jul. 16 2013 02:35 PM
Rafaelitus from Miami, FL

I love it how T.D. Allman dismisses Florida as a place where (due to history) there is no intellectual discourse (I'm paraphrasing). [Insert sarcasm here.]

Jul. 16 2013 12:24 PM
dlm

Come on - most people associate Florida with Disney. New Yorkers just think of it as a huge retirement home.

Jul. 16 2013 10:56 AM
Angel from Miami FL

Remember Rosewood, Florida.

Jul. 16 2013 10:03 AM
listener

Last week we were supposed to hate Texas and now we are supposed to hate Florida because both modestly departed from progressive ideology? What person, place or thing will be the subject of the left's "two minutes of hate" next week.

The "institutionalized racism" was called the Democratic Party machine in Florida and the rest of the deep South for well over a century.
Talk about denial of history.

Jul. 16 2013 09:56 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.