Eric Holder Slams Stand Your Ground Law, Al Sharpton Pledges Florida Fight

If the Stevie Wonder boycott and the thousands signing MoveOn petitions didn't convince lawmakers they were going to face serious pressure to repeal the Stand Your Ground law after George Zimmerman's acquittal, last night's NAACP convention finale should do the trick.

First U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sharply criticized the law. Then Al Sharpton called Stand Your Ground the "worst violation of civil rights" in the country and pledged to start a fight to remove it -- beginning next week with a conference in Miami.

Sharpton's comments were bolstered by Holder, who also slammed the laws, which are on the books in 30 states. Holder said Stand Your Ground laws "senselessly expand the concept of self defense," the Washington Post reports, and can cause "violent situations to escalate."

Both Sharpton and Holder are just the biggest names to latch onto a nationwide move to force Florida to change its law, which Zimmerman didn't directly invoke but which was mentioned to jurors in their instructions before they found him not guilty of killing Miami teen Trayvon Martin.

Wonder was the first of a small but growing list of entertainers who've pledged to cancel shows in Florida unless the law changes and MoveOn has started a petition to boycott Florida tourism until Stand Your Ground dies.

Sharpton acknowledged that Florida is just the tip of the iceberg with such laws, but said the Sunshine State should become a "test case" for killing Stand Your Ground nationwide.

He also promised to start planning in earnest next Tuesday in Miami, where his National Action Network has a three-day conference planned.

So what's the chance Stand Your Ground actually falters under all the pressure?

Given our state's heavily gerrymandered, GOP-dominated legislature, don't bank on it. The Orlando Sentinel reached Sen. David Simmons, who helped draft the law; Simmons says there's "between a zero and one percent chance" the law could change.

Adds Kareem K. Jordan, a criminal justice professor at University of Central Florida in an interview with the Sentinel: "The only chance of repeal would be to elect brand-new people to office. But with the culture of this state, I highly doubt that will be the case."

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink