Black Arkansas lawmaker Stephanie Flowers refused to be silenced in heated ‘Stand Your Ground’ debate with white colleagues
Stephanie Flowers, a Black state lawmaker in Arkansas, wasn’t having it Wednesday night when fellow legislators tried to limit debate on a proposed “stand-your-ground” law for the state.
“Stand-your-ground” laws establish the rights of civilians to use their firearms when they feel threatened, and critics have argued that such legislation can be seen as a right to kill and often targets people of color.
Arkansas Sen. Stephanie Flowers, a Democrat from Pine Bluff, told her white colleagues in the state Senate that their paths just are not the same as hers when it comes to such legislation and with the law in general. She made the comments at the state capitol in Little Rock.
“My son doesn’t walk the same path as yours do so this debate deserves more time,” said Flowers, voice rising and hands gesturing. “When you bring up crap like this it offends me.”
For 10 years, lawmakers have tried to pass a “stand-your-ground” law for the state and for 10 years, they have not been successful.
As Flowers tried to explain why the state Senate needed more discussion on the proposed bill, not less, one lawmaker tried to step in and silence her.
“Senator, you need to stop,” Arkansas Sen. Alan Clark, a Republican from Lonsdale, Ark., told Flowers.
Clark heads the state Senate Judiciary Committee.
“No, I don’t,” Flowers said.
“Yes you do,” replied Clark.
“No the hell I don’t,” Flowers shot back. “What are you going to do, shoot me?”
Flowers was the only legislator of color present
In the end, the proposed bill failed. The Judiciary Committee, controlled by Republicans, rejected the measure 4-3.
Arkansas is one of three states in the South where someone is required to retreat before using deadly force, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other Southern states with such a requirement are Maryland and Virginia.
At least 25 states have “stand-your-ground’ laws, according to the organization based in Washington.