(Tallahassee.com) -- Hundreds of marchers are joining the Rev. Al Sharpton, the parents ofJacksonville teen Jordan Davis and Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin,members of the Dream Defenders and others this morning in opposition toand calling for changes to Florida's hotly contested "Stand Your Ground"law.
In the fashion of the protest the night thenot-guilty verdict against Martin's killer was delivered, hundreds madetheir way less than a mile away from the Leon County Civic Center to theFlorida Capitol to again urge lawmakers to address the 2005 law.
"It'sa flawed law," Sharpton said. "Because you don't need an actual threat.All you've got to do is believe a threat and you can use deadly force."
Thoselooking for change have been adamant that self-defense laws are applieddisproportionately among minority populations and believe force shouldbe used only after all other options have been exhausted.
Itallows individuals to use of force to defend themselves if they feelthreatened and has been at the root of two high-profile deaths of17-year-old teens in Florida over the past two years.
Martin'skiller, Sanford neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, was acquittedof second-degree murder by a Seminole County jury in July. Duval Countyjurors last month declared a mistrial in the murder charge of Davis'killer, Michael Dunn.
Sharpton said polling Florida legislators in their districts was the first step to national change.
"Florida is the first state to enact the law in 2005," he said. "We came back to where it started to begin where it will end."
Afull repeal of the law was shot down by the House Criminal JusticeSubcommittee in November; other bills, still potentially in play in theLegislature, would tweak Stand Your Ground to include, primarily, anecessary obligation to retreat, using force only after that option hasbeen exhausted.
Some of them change the situation that putZimmerman in the position to pursue Martin. SB 130, by Sen. Chris SmithD- Fort Lauderdale, would require the Florida Department of LawEnforcement to develop county or municipal police training programs forneighborhood watch programs and not allow immunity to the aggressor in asituation.
The bill had favorable support in the SenateJudiciary Committee in October and has potential to be heard in theCriminal Justice Committee.
A House bill filed by Orlando Democrat Bruce Antone draws a harder line on self defense.
HB33 allows the use of force, except deadly force and in the case ofthwarting a felony, and removes the bar placed on law enforcement fromarresting an individual for using force unless there is probable causethe force used was unlawful.
The bill has two morecommittee meetings and has yet to be heard in the same House CriminalJustice Subcommittee that voted down a full repeal 11-2 in November.
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