On July 16th, Patrick Howley at the Daily Caller posted a provocative article titled “Blacks benefit from Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law at disproportionate rate”. The article begins…
African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans.
And the author continues…
Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.
Although Howley’s statements are in fact true, his article is misleading and his facile analysis is deeply flawed because he simply cherry picks the data in such a way that it can support his absurd claim that blacks benefit disproportionately from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Using the same data base for fatal “Stand Your Ground” law cases provided by the Tampa Bay Times, one must conclude that Mr. Howley is either very inept at processing data or that he is intentionally misleading his readers to advance his own ideological agenda. His analysis fails to recognize that the most significant and relevant data instead points to the conclusion not that blacks benefit from the “Stand Your Ground” law as he states, but rather those who kill blacks benefit from the law as it is applied in Florida.
The Tampa Bay Times analysis of 133 fatal cases where the accused attempted to use the “Stand Your Ground” as a justification for homicide shows that 20 cases are still pending. For the 113 cases that are no longer pending, in 73 cases the accused was considered justified under “Stand Your Ground”, and in 40 cases he or she was convicted for the killing. Justified cases include acquittals, not guilty verdicts, defendants who were not charged, cases that were dismissed and instances where the defendant was granted immunity. While it is true that 2/3rds of African-Americans who used the “Stand Your Ground” defense were considered justified compared to a slightly lower 63 percent for whites, that disparity is due to the fact that most African-Americans invoking “Stand Your Ground” killed other blacks, whereas whites who invoked the defense typically killed other whites. In these cases, it is the race of the victim and not the killer that is most significant in determining whether “Stand Your Ground” is considered a justification for the homicide.
When the victim is white, the person who kills him or her is convicted 43 percent of the time. When the victim is black, the killer is only convicted 22 percent of the time. The killers of Hispanic victims are also convicted just 22 percent of the time. Although blacks who kill other blacks are found justified under “Stand Your Ground” 73 percent of the time, whites who kill blacks are deemed to be justified in killing the black person 86 percent of the time. When the victim is black and killed by a white or a Hispanic (like Zimmerman) the murder is considered justified 90 percent of the time in the state of Florida. By contrast, when the victim is white and killed by a non-white (black or Hispanic) person, the murder is considered justified just 60 percent of the time.
In other words, when a black person is shot and killed in a “Stand Your Ground” case, the chances that his or her killer will be convicted of a crime is around 1 in 5. If the accused is not black, his chances of being convicted drop to 1 in 10. By contrast, a person who kills a white person and tries to invoke “Stand Your Ground” has a 43 percent chance of being convicted and sent to prison. Black killers stand a reasonable chance of getting away with murder as long as they confine their killing to murdering other African-Americans. Whites can successfully use “Stand Your Ground” as a defense nearly nine times out of ten as long as they shoot black people, but they are rolling the dice and gambling with prison time if they stand their ground against another white person. Blacks do not benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law, but it is pretty obvious that since the law was passed in 2005, those who kill blacks do. In Florida, “Stand Your Ground” has become a license to kill people of color.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.