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Florida Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ panel to meet Thursday

by Dara Kam | April 3rd, 2012

Frustrated by Gov. Rick Scott’s delay in assembling a task force to look into Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, state Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, has put together a panel that will meet Thursday to look into the first-in-the-nation law.

The Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin has intensified scrutiny of Florida’s first-in-the nation law, which allows individuals to use deadly force when they feel threatened. Sanford neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman claimed he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense.

Smith, a critic of the law since it was proposed in 2005 and who voted against it while in the Florida House, said the nation’s attention on the law prompted by Martin’s death has the potential to have a devastating impact on the Sunshine State’s upcoming tourist season.

“Florida is in crisis mode. We have a big problem and it’s time for leaders to lead,” Smith, the incoming Senate Democratic Leader, told reporters at a press conference this morning.

The panel, dominated by Democrats, includes prosecutors and public defenders from South Florida, including Palm Beach County Public Defender Carey Haughwout, law professors and lawyers. Area judges and Nikki Grossman, head of the Fort Lauderdale tourism bureau, will appear before the group Thursday afternoon.

Smith said he wants to make recommendations for possible changes to the law to Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and wants a special session to address the law.

Under pressure from black lawyers and public outrage over Martin’s shooting, Scott last month announced he was convening a task force after a special prosecutor he appointed to investigate the shooting completes her work. Haridopolos and Cannon have said they support the task force and want to wait for its recommendations before considering a special session. Smith twice asked Scott to speed up the task force but Scott insisted he wants to wait until the Martin investigation is finished.

But that could take more than a year, Smith complained. Smith, a black lawyer who has discussed the law on national news programs since the Feb. 26 shooting, said vacationers are expressing fears about coming to Florida because of the law.

“We will not sit around and wait for action,” Smith said. “The Florida brand is being portrayed in a negative light each and every day.”

Smith has also launched a web site – FloridaStandYourGround.org – and is eliciting public comments.

Smith’s group will take public testimony from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fort Lauderdale library main branch and meet later that evening to decide what their next step should be, he said.

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11 Responses to “Florida Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ panel to meet Thursday”

  1. TWO FACED OBAMA Says:

    What?!?! President Obama has made no comment on the 2 boys, who look like his son, who beat a white man in the head with a hammer after pulling the victim from his vehicle in Seminole County. (The victim is on Life Support.)

    How can that be? No comment from the President?

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-04-02/news/os-two-arrested-seminole-beating-20120402_1_victim-arrest-affidavits-crimeline

  2. Joe Budd Says:

    The statistics speak for themselves. Violent crime rates in the first half of last decade were down 12.3%. The law went into effect 10/01/2005 and violent crime rates in Florida dropped 22.8% for the second half of the decade. To put it in perspective, the national average drop in violent crimes during that same period of time was 13.2%. Florida saw a drop in violent crimes 72.7% greater than the national average.

  3. whasup Says:

    Senator, Florida is not in “crisis mode.”

    You and your benighted and befuddled ilk are …

    and y’all should be in crisis mode …

    over the 150 black men killed each week in this nation, 94% of them by other black men.

    And, while you’re at it, why don’t you have your task force ask how many young black men have been protected from prosecution for standing their ground as the law provides?

  4. This is BS Says:

    Politicians looking for a little camera time. This law will not be changed, maybe clarified, but not taken away. Numbers never lie and the crime stats are what they are. Black, White, Hispanic, who cares, will rob and kill you if you don’t protect yourself.
    An unfortunate, isolated and unusual incident has everyone panicking. Stop
    playing politics for the F’n people crying on the news. This is a bulls**t media mess. The black panthers, sharpton etc are using this for publicity.
    Don’t you dare try and take my guns that I legally carry. These POS criminals don’t follow the law nor care, who is going to protect me? Some LEO five minutes away. It’s already over in five minutes.

  5. JPowers Says:

    When all these dou chebag liberal politicians create utopia and there is no crime, I will gladly not carry a weapon.
    Until that date,As statistics prove. I will need a weapon sooner than later.
    I am not a hatemonger or paranoid, just prepared.
    I recall not too long ago of a story about a woman who was with her tiny baby in her house and it was burglarized.
    The 911 operator told her to “Do what you have to do to protect yourself and your baby”.
    She shot and killed two intruders in her own house.
    Thank god she had a gun.
    If she had failed to listen to the 911 operator and just hid,She might have been found and killed, Along with her baby.
    Would blacks be raising heII for her not following dispatcher “Orders”

  6. Software for Television Says:

    That is one of the things I love most about internet marketing, there are so many people willing to help and to share ideas, tips and tricks so that others might succeed at it also.

  7. bob Says:

    Smith is a bold faced liar. To back up his anti gun position he makes up an issue about tourists being scared. Prove it Mr. Smith.
    If tourists are afraid of anything it is the angry mobs if protesters lead by Rev. Al.
    Smith is a disgrace to lie.

  8. Ralphyboy Says:

    Smith wants to hurry before there is no story to tell. Lies by Jesse Jackson and others, to whip people into a frenzy, are falling apart. As the truth comes out, we are seeing more of the real story everyday. Wait for the AG to finish and see if a Grand Jury finds probable cause. NO RUSH TO JUDGEMENT, if that is still possible

  9. Thomas Says:

    Were the “reverends” Sharpton and Jackson not available for Mr. Smiths committee? This whole grandstanding effort is a continuation of the bigotry spewed by the rev’s and Mr. Smith. These leeches thrive on publicity and would not exist if they couldn’t keep the prejudice alive. Too bad for the poor dead child, who’s death is a matter of convenience for the hate mongers.

  10. Carl Mafeo Says:

    It is clear from your story that tragedies like this death will continue to be used politically by men like State Senator Chris Smith to further their political agenda.

    It is just as clear there will be no justice for anyone.

    The only thing we need to replace or change is the Senator from Lauderdale Chris Smith come next election not the “Stand your ground” or “Castle” laws.

  11. Arizona Says:

    What’s really sad is Commenters 1-10 will say they are not racist … Uh huh.

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