Atlanta, Feb. 10 — With the murders of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis on their minds, 24 Moral Monday Georgia activists crowded into the offices of state Sen. Jesse Stone to demand a fair and full hearing on Senate Bill 280, which would repeal Georgia’s “stand your ground” law. Just days before at a hearing on the repeal bill, Stone had allowed only one speaker five minutes to offer testimony supporting the law’s elimination, despite a packed room of people wanting to speak.
Within minutes, armed Capitol police entered the office and shouted out orders to be quiet and to leave. The group, led by Rev. Timothy McDonald, included students from Morehouse and Spelman colleges, housing justice activists and the president of the state National Organization for Women. It also included veteran Civil Rights, faith-based, workers’ rights and lesbian-gay-bi-trans-queer community leaders.
The protesters faced down the belligerent cops and repeated their intention to meet with their elected representative. Stone remained hidden in his office as all 24 were arrested. Many members of the media were forced out of the area under threat of arrest. Police gave orders in a way that made sure news crews couldn’t see what was happening as the 24 activists were being handcuffed and taken away.
Some 100 more opponents of the “shoot first” law, which allows an unreasonable “fear” as legal justification for murder, quickly ended the simultaneous outdoor rally and moved to the gated area where the arrestees were being put in police vehicles.
In an attempt to drown out the chanting crowd, the cops turned on squad car sirens. The deafening noise just fired up the protesters, so the sirens were soon shut off. The youth-led rally continued with teenagers and children demanding a future without racist violence. The police vehicles were forced to inch their way through the fist-raised crowd, as activists chanted, “No justice, no peace!”
All 24 protesters were booked and released within 12 hours. They were met outside the Rice Street jail by Moral Monday Georgia supporters.
Georgia’s “stand your ground” law was enacted in 2006. It expands the concept of self-defense in the face of a violent threat to safeguard a life into the use of deadly force for a perceived threat with no requirement to retreat. Recent history makes it clear that “stand your ground” laws promote deadly racial profiling of youth of color, who are deemed “threatening” to the racist George Zimmermans and Michael Dunns of the world.