| Crime |

South Florida Lawmakers Demand Arrest in McGlockton "Stand Your Ground" Killing

Last week, 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton shoved Michael Drejka to the ground in Clearwater, outside Tampa. Drejka, who is white, responded by whipping out a gun and fatally shooting McGlockton, who is black. The altercation began after McGlockton parked in a handicapped spot — but witnesses said that Drejka instigated the fight and that McGlockton was already backing away when Drejka pulled out the gun and fired.

The whole thing was caught on surveillance videotape, but thanks to Florida's controversial and demonstrably racist "Stand Your Ground" law, Dreika was not arrested.

The shooting has outraged virtually everyone except the most hard-core pro-gun fanatics. The surveillance footage shows Drejka was not in imminent danger when he shot McGlockton. And now, two South Florida state lawmakers — Miami Sen. Oscar Braynon and Hollywood Rep. Shevrin Jones, both Democrats, have sent Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe an open letter demanding he reject Drejka's Stand Your Ground defense and arrest him.

"Mr. Drejka is a danger to others around him, and Sheriff Gulatieri not arresting him on-sight is a problematic facet of the Stand Your Ground laws — that if the defense is applied, the law enforcement may be at risk for improper arrest," the letter reads. "In spite of that, we also request that the sheriff arrest Mr. Drejka for the murder of Mr. McGlockton."

The lawmakers also note the law is statistically racist: Nationwide data shows whites who kill blacks in stand-your-ground states are 354 percent likelier to be cleared of wrongdoing than whites who kill other whites. (In states without stand-your-ground laws, whites who kill blacks are only 250 percent likelier to be cleared, per PBS's Frontline.)

The shooting has prompted protests around Florida. In addition to the basic racial disparity when it comes to Stand Your Ground clearings, protesters still have basic questions about how the shooting went down. Witness testimony and video surveillance, which includes no audio, indicate that Drejka was clearly shouting at the convenience store window and at McGlockton's family before McGlockton shoved him — but without a proper police investigation, no one can know what Drejka might have said or what caused McGlockton to act. As with the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, it's quite possible McGlockton was defending himself. It all depends upon what threats Drejka might have uttered before getting shoved. Moreover, shoving someone is not a capital crime in America.

"The Stand Your Ground laws exacerbate racial disparities in justice outcomes," the letter reads. Jones regularly joins civil rights protests in his home city of Hollywood. He attended a rally to change Hollywood's racist, pro-Confederate street names in 2017 when a white supremacist was arrested after charging into a crowd and trying to use a flagpole to stab civil rights protesters. The incident was caught on video.

In addition to being statistically racist, Florida's Stand Your Ground law is generally deadly. In 2016, a Journal of the American Medical Association study showed that after the National Rifle Association-approved law was enacted in 2005, the state saw an "abrupt and sustained" increase in homicides. Before 2005, Florida's murder rate was actually dropping.

In 2016, former Broward County Sheriff's Dep. Peter Peraza also used the law to avoid a manslaughter conviction after he killed Jermaine McBean, a black man wearing headphones and carrying an unloaded air rifle, while on duty.

"We entreat you to see this case as we do: Michael Drejka murdered Markeis McGlockton," the lawmakers' letter reads.

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