WASHINGTON D.C. — Ron Davis, the father of slain teenager Jordan Davis, gave heart-wrenching testimony Tuesday against the controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws at a hearing before a transnational human rights commission.
Davis was part of a delegation of high-profile activists, including Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who argued that the laws are not only flawed but also rife with racism.
“’Stand Your Ground’ all over this country is trumping the rights of human rights,” Davis testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
IACHR, the Washington D.C.-based commission, is charged with examining allegations of human rights abuses committed by members of the Organization of American States, which includes the United States.
“Never mind that your child or your loved one was unarmed,” Mr. Davis continued. “It’s what I think they had.”
“We have to look at “Stand Your Ground” for what it is; it’s an attempt by the gun manufacturers to sell more guns through fear,” Davis said of the law that has been criticized for playing to people’s fears and biases.
Ms. Fulton, who sat alongside Davis, echoed the same sentiment.
“People should really take a look at “Stand Your Ground” and really understand that it’s about perception,” she said. “It’s very difficult as a parent to relate to a law that gives a person with a gun so much authority.”
“We have no clue what to tell our teenagers now. How many of our teenagers have to worry now about being perceived as criminals? This method of ‘let’s shoot first and ask questions later’ has to stop.”
“’Stand Your Ground’ is not only a bad law, it’s a biased law,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who went on to talk about Michael Giles case. Giles, a former U.S. airman, was sentenced to 25 years in a failed attempt to apply “Stand Your Ground” when he was attacked without provocation at a local gathering in Tallahassee, Florida.
“It’s different when minorities claim Stand Your Ground verses the killers of Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis,” said Crump.
Also testifying were representatives of the NAACP, the Dream Defenders and Free Marissa Now, a group working in support of Marissa Alexander. Officials from federal government were also in attendance.
“Black people, including black women, are over criminalized yet under protected,” said Aleta Alston-Toure of Free Marissa Now. “The application of “Stand Your Ground” routinely fails to value the defense of black life.”
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has made headlines in the wake of the tragic deaths of African-American teens Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and the prosecution of domestic violence victim Marissa Alexander.
In 2005, Florida was the first state to pass the “Stand Your Ground” law. Today, at least 24 states now allow people to stand their ground, which gives individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation.
Opponents say the “Stand Your Ground” law — also known as “Shoot First” — is dangerous, unevenly applied and racially biased.
This month marks the first time “Stand Your Ground” is coming under the scrutiny of the international community in regards to human rights.
The IACHR hearing comes on the heels of the UN Human Rights Committee expressing concerns that SYG laws are “incompatible” with the “inherent right to life” – Article Six of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“’Stand Your Ground’ is not just a statewide or national problem, it is a problem worldwide,” Davis told theGrio after the hearing. “It is a human rights problem.”
Meanwhile, Florida legislators have been moving on a “Stand Your Ground” expansion bill. It would extend immunity under “Stand Your Ground” to those who fire warning shots at another individual based on subjective fears or perceptions.
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