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OLBC, Ohio Community Leaders Take Action Against Stand Your Ground

Clergy and civil rights groups lobby Governor, legislators to stop the bill
October 3, 2013
Democratic Newsroom

State Representative and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) was joined by OLBC members and statewide community leaders for a Day of Action against a proposed Stand Your Ground law in Ohio. The group held a press conference to address the dangers of Stand Your Ground; delivered petitions and municipal resolutions opposing the bill to Governor Kasich, Senate President Faber and House Speaker Batchelder; lobbied state legislators; and hosted a faith rally.

The OLBC was joined by advocates and community leaders from around the state including the Ohio Unity Coalition, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Congressional Black Caucus Chair, National Action Network, NAACP, SCLC and clergy.

“Our constituents and communities are outraged by a potential Stand Your Ground Law in this state,” said Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Alicia Reece. “Here in Ohio, we already have strong self-defense laws on the books, and Stand Your Ground would do nothing but turn our state into the Wild, Wild West. The OLBC and greater-Ohio community stands together in saying that Ohio does not need Stand Your Ground."

The Day of Action focused on the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus’ work to fight Stand Your Ground legislation, included in House Bill 203 or any other forthcoming legislation. Participants delivered petitions and municipal resolutions from Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron and Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo. Resolutions from these cities represent nearly seventy-five percent of Ohio’s population. Participants are hopeful that these efforts will keep this misguided and polarizing legislation from being passed.

“Stand Your Ground legislation is dangerous for Ohio and for our nation,” said State Representative and member of the OLBC Michael Ashford (D-Toledo). “If this was a good bill, it would be supported by law enforcement. But it’s not because it ties the hands of police officers and undermines public safety everywhere. With tragedies like the shooting of Trayvon Martin fresh in our memories, we need to stop Stand Your Ground legislation before it claims the lives of innocent children in our state”

HB 203 was introduced in the House on June 11th and, if passed, will expand the circumstances under which a person has no duty to retreat before using lethal force in self-defense. This bill is nearly identical to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which recently led to George Zimmerman being found not guilty of any crimes in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Below are comments from participants.

Ms. Petee Talley of the Ohio Unity Coalition said, “It has become difficult to have the discussion with people about the importance of voting when they believe their elected officials are not representing their interests in the Statehouse, which is why we are here today. HB 203 undermines public safety and ties the hands of our law enforcement. We need to pass laws that prevent innocent lives from being lost and we applaud the local governmental bodies that see this legislation for what it is as they are taking leadership by passing resolutions. The last thing they need to be dealing with is local citizens who believe they have a license to kill.”

Mr. Stanley Miller, Former Executive Director of the Cleveland NAACP: “Perhaps ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws should be called ‘Shoot First’ laws, or ‘Last Man Standing’ laws because the last man standing in a fatal altercation is the person that speaks. “Stand Your Ground” laws do not give people the duty to retreat, and expands on the Castle Doctrine that says a person is protected only in self-defense. I urge the legislature not to rush to judgment on House Bill 203. We don’t need to regress society and bring back the Wild Wild West.”

Father Dennis Chiszt of the Church of the Resurrection: “It’s time for the rest of us to stand our ground. To stand our ground against the fear that says when I’m afraid, violence is the appropriate response. We should stand our ground for justice. We need to stand our ground against fear. It was Zimmerman’s fear that drove him to believe its ok to follow that boy home just because he didn’t recognize him. We need to stand our ground for understanding. We need to understand the stranger, not fear him.”