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Sen. Siplin calls on Scott to appoint special prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case

by Dara Kam | March 21st, 2012

UPDATE: Senate President Mike Haridopolos also says “no” to a special committee on the use of the “stand your ground” law.

“The Senate President feels that Governor Scott is currently taking all of the appropriate steps to address the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin. Additionally, the Senate President is confident that the circumstances surrounding this shooting will be closely examined by lawmakers, and if the Senate concludes that laws need to be revised they will be addressed in the future,” Haridopolos’s spokeswoman Lyndsey Cruley said in an e-mail.

State Sen. Gary Siplin and a coalition of other black lawmakers are asking Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate last month’s shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer near Orlando.

Trayvon Martin was killed last month by George Zimmerman, whom police identified as white but whose family says is Hispanic, in a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26. Zimmerman, who has not been charged with any crime, has said he shot the high school student in self-defense after a confrontation.

The shooting, now being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and local authorities, has sparked an international furor with civil rights leaders demanding Zimmerman’s arrest and a probe into selective prosecution of white-on-black crime.

Siplin, an Orlando attorney whose district neighbors Sanford, said the community is plagued by a “plantation” mentality and asked Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to quell racial tension.

“In my community today, they’re very upset. They’re very excited. They’re ready to ignite,” Siplin, a Democrat and a laywer, said at a press conference in the Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

Scott’s office said the governor received Siplin’s request and his legal staff is reviewing it. Yesterday, Scott met with a group of black lawyers and others who also asked for a special prosecutor and as well as a racial profiling task force.

Siplin, joined by fellow Democratic Sens. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale and Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens who are also black lawyers, also intends to conduct a “fact-finding mission” in Sanford within the next month to identify inequities in treatment between blacks and whites.

“I live near Sanford. I know it’s kind of like a plantation,” he said. The meetings will “make sure we take testimony about some of the needs, the bastions of racism there” and enable lawmakers to file bills or fund budget items “to make sure that the vestiges of racism that have been identified that have existed in Sanford for over 100 years can be slowly chipped away to make sure that Sanford is returned to the 2012 century.”

Senate Health and Human Services budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he would participate in the town hall meetings to “make sure we have equal access to services throughout Florida.”

Martin’s death has renewed criticism of Florida’s first-in-the-nation “stand your ground” law that allows individuals who feel threatened to use deadly force to defend themselves. Zimmerman has invoked the law in his defense.

Smith said he intends to file legislation to close a vague area in the law. And Braynon, who represents the district where Martin lived, called on Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, to form a special committee to look into the use of the law, which he said “empowered people to become vigilantes.” On Wednesday, Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, made the same request of House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.

Apart from the the Justice Department, a Central Florida grand jury will meet next month to investigate the shooting, and Scott ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assistance in the probes. The Sanford Police Department is also investigating.

Cannon told Thurston, who is also a black lawyer, he doesn’t see the need yet to appoint a special committee, Cannon’s spokeswoman Katie Betta said.

“He didn’t feel legislative action was necessary at this time but would continue to review the various investigations and would be open to the possibility in the future if there’s a determination made that legislative action is necessary,” she said.

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8 Responses to “Sen. Siplin calls on Scott to appoint special prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case”

  1. Thomas Says:

    Hispanic? Not news. White? news. Siplin’s comments about the “plantation” mentality is pathetic. Siplin is expressing bigotry and prejudice at it’s best.

  2. Tom Robinson Says:

    Speaker Cannon may not think that legislative action is necessary at this time. Maybe he’s right. But. I guarantee you that I and my family WILL NOT SET FOOT in Florida as long as this law is in force. No Disney World, no Space Coast, no beaches, no winter vacation in Florida. Why risk running into a crazy with a gun who will claim self-defense after the fact. NO CHANCE.

    Maybe Speaker Cannon will change his mind after George Zimmerman shoots someone else. Oh, and by the way, I’m white.

  3. Robert Says:

    I agree with you Tom. From what I have read about this case, Zimmerman was definitely a cop wannabe. He choice to ignore the rules of being neighborhood watch person and the advice of the police dispatcher. His comments clearly have racial overtones and he was the aggressor in this case.
    The Sanford police violated rules and common sense in their handling of this case. Their actions showed just as much racism as Zimmermans did.


    Scott won’t do it, because he’s being asked by black Democrats. The bane of his existence.

    Same with Dean Cannon.

    The fascist Republican Party HATES African-Americans and they HATE the poor. What they REALLY HATE is poor African-Americans.

    We see it everywhere in the country, but in particular we see it here in Florida. We see it when the state subscribes to institutional racism that takes MANY different forms.

    The ONLY thing that we — as Floridians and Americans — can do is:



    November 6th, 2012.



  5. Susan Klopfer Says:

    Years ago, before and during the modern civil rights movement, activists going into the South were warned not to go out after 5 p.m. A friend of mine, Margaret Block, remembers giving that warning to young Michael Schwerner, following their special training he completed in Ohio, as he was leaving for Mississippi. Of course, Schwerner was one of three young men murdered late at night, after leaving their jail cells and trying to return to their quarters. Are we still at this point, where no one is safe from the worst of racism — whether African Americans or white? Once again, racism rears its ugly head. We are so fortunate, this time, to have the Internet and countless number of people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired (the words of Fanny Lou Hamer, a beloved Mississippi activist) of the murders of African Americans that are not dealt with by the police. We must keep up the work, keep up the pressure, and let this Florida city know the life of Trayvon Martin was important and will be remembered, and that we are sick and tired of being sick and tired of racism, murder and of police and other officials who don’t care about justice, unless you are part of the good ole boy crowd. Peace and love to the Martin family.


    Well said, Susan.

    On the Update, this only confirms by suspicions.

    The Republican Party refuses to address this matter seriously because the Republican Party is run by people who HATE African-Americans.

    The only way to address this institutional racism is to VOTE OUT EVERY REPUBLICAN IN NOVEMBER.

  7. Alex Sanders Says:

    The shooter Zimmerman is clearly hispanic. It is so important that he is prosecuted equally in the law. No special treatment. This is our chance to look at everyone as equals. It is time for equal responsibility for ALL.

  8. Darrell Lawson Says:

    A lot of the people posting here crack me up. Yes, Florida is one of the most crime-ridden states in the country. Why? Not because there are too many white people there.

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