Miami-Dade County's Community Relations Board -- peacekeeper for the last half-century among the region's raucously contentious cultures and between the people and the police -- is getting ready for the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford.
Ever since a car crash that left him a quadriplegic 12 years ago, 50-year-old Ronald Fulton has been making the best of bad situations.
His experience as a patient led him to found a healthcare advocacy organization called You Are Knot Alone. Life in a wheelchair turned him into a campaigner for disability rights who also advises Miami-Dade County commissioners. But for one thing in his life, there is no upside: the loss of his nephew, Trayvon Martin.
State Senator Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale), a strong proponent of changing Stand Your Ground, says constituencies outside of South Florida are particularly opposed to any conversation about amending the law or gun control regulations.
The panel charged by Gov. Rick Scott with reviewing the state's 'stand your ground' self-defense law did not recommend any major changes to the statute, although it did make suggestions for tweaks by the Legislature in the upcoming session. The basic premise of the law isn't challenged in the final report released Friday. Scott's Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection included lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, representatives of minority communities and law enforcement.
With lawmakers taking a new look at Florida's "stand your ground" law, the mother of the young man whose death brought the law back into focus urged lawmakers Wednesday to repeal it.
"How many lives do we have to lose?" Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, asked outside the legislative chambers. "How many children have to be killed? How many times are we going to bury our loved ones and not do anything about it?"
If a stranger attacks you inside your own home, the law has always permitted you to defend yourself. On the other hand, if an altercation breaks out in public, the law requires you to try to retreat. At least, that's what it used to do.
Picking a fight with the gun lobby and legislative Republicans, State Sen. Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) has introduced a bill that would substantially reduce the protections Florida's stand-your-ground law offers to armed citizens.
The law -- controversial because of its application in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin this year by a neighborhood watch volunteer -- allows the use of deadly force by someone who feels threatened. It also prevents police from arresting stand-your-ground shooters in many cases.