Unarmed, black teen wearing a hoodie gets shot down for walking through a neighborhood. Unarmed, black man gets shot down for playing his music too loud in his car. Only in Florida could paranoid white men get away with these cowardly crimes and all they have to do is stand behind Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. After a 200 case review done by the Tampa Bay Times, they found an “uneven application. Now, one Florida lawmaker is trying to halt the media’s ability to scrutinize the law by restricting media access to Stand Your Ground case records.
Earlier this month, state representative Matt Gaetz filed an amendment that would limit access to court cases in which someone was found not guilty under Stand Your Ground.
Those found innocent in a Stand Your Ground case would have to apply for a certificate of eligibility to erase the criminal history record under the amendment.
“The point is to ensure that someone who appropriately uses a Stand Your Ground defense doesn’t have their life ruined by the use of that defense,” Gaetz said to the Associated Press.
Tampa Bay Times Editor and Vice President Neil Brown has a different view on the proposed amendment in Florida.
“Closing records and putting controversial cases that involve violence into the dark is a bad idea, it is against democracy,” Brown said in a statement. “This would have inhibited our work further. Our work was done based on court records as well as the stories of the incidents when they occurred.”
The Tampa Bay Times coverage was named a finalist for the Online News Association’s Knight Award for Public Service and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism’s Taylor Award for Fairness in Journalism. The investigation has played and will continue to play a key role in informing other outlets of cases relating to Stand Your Ground statutes.
If the bogus Stand Your Ground law ever falls to social justice, the media and history must be able to look back at these horrendous and unfair cases. We must also look at these cases in the present and scrutinize them with great detail because the Unites States does not need anymore innocent, black men to be slain because some white guy “felt threatened.”