U.S. Civil Rights Commission Probing Racial Aspects of Stand Your Ground


The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will investigate into how race affects the enforcement of stand-your-ground laws across the U.S., says USA Today. Meanwhile, a task force convened by Florida Gov. Rick Scott after the shooting of Trayvon Martin will hold its first public hearing today on the law in that state. “There is an absolute lack of real data or information about how these stand-your-ground laws have been or are applied,” said Michael Yaki, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “We need to make sure claims of justifiable homicide are not being granted or denied because of the color of someone’s skin.”

George Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic, is charged with the Feb. 26 fatal shooting of Martin, 17. John Roman of the Justice Policy Center at the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute, analyzed homicides in the U.S. from 2005 to 2009. He found that homicides are twice as likely to be ruled justifiable in stand-your-ground states and that in many incidents police can’t arrest shooters and question them in detail, even though interviews are critical in cases like this. He cited FBI data showing that 34 percent of cases involving a white shooter killing a black person were deemed as a justifiable homicide. In similar situations, when the shooter was black and the victim was white, the homicide was ruled justifiable only 3.3 percent of the time. “The numbers are so different, it’s absolutely worth doing a study to figure this out,” Roman said.

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