By Chas Sisk / The Tennessean
Black lawmakers called Wednesday for a review of Tennessee's
self-defense statute following last week's verdict in the Trayvon Martin
The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators said the
state's "Stand Your Ground" provisions should be reconsidered to prevent
cases like the Martin shooting from taking place in Tennessee. The
group suggested that portions of the self-defense statute should be
repealed or replaced in the interest of public safety.
should ever have to be afraid to walk peacefully down the sidewalk
without being attacked because of the way they dress or the color of
their skin," state Rep. Larry Miller, a Memphis Democrat and the caucus'
chairman, said in a press release. "The unfortunate death of Trayvon
Martin will not go in vain; we must turn a wrong into a right."
self-defense law says explicitly that people have "no duty to retreat"
before using force if they have a reasonable belief they face death or
serious injury. Similar laws have been passed in 20 other states,
including Florida, where a jury on Saturday found George Zimmerman, a
neighborhood watch volunteer, not guilty of second-degree murder or
manslaughter for the fatal shooting of the 17-year-old Martin during an
altercation last year.
According to testimony in the
heavily-covered trial, Zimmerman tracked Martin as he walked through a
residential neighborhood after buying snacks from a nearby convenience
store. Martin was unarmed, but defense attorneys argued successfully
that Zimmerman had reason to fear for his life during the fight.
black caucus' 17 members said they were disappointed in the verdict.
They said it highlights unequal treatment of black men by the legal
system and the danger of racial profiling.