At a meeting of the Arkansas state Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, state Senator Stephanie Flowers condemned an attempt to enact a Stand Your Ground law in that state.
Flowers, a Democrat who has served in the Senate since 2011, delivered a scathing condemnation of Stand Your Ground laws in a video that’s now gone viral. Stand Your Ground laws, which dictate that a person can shoot first in situations where a safe retreat may or may not be possible.
In the latest attempt to push this measure through, Senate Committee Chairman Alan Clark allowed Flowers to comment on the measure, but asked that she make it quick.
“I’ll be as quick as I can,” Flowers said. “As quick as it takes to kill somebody, I guess. You want me to be that quick.”
From there, Flowers built a case against Stand Our Ground laws, citing the case of George Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Although Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was not technically part of the defense in this case, Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013.
Flowers pointed out that she was the only person of color on the committee, and pointed to her Black son as a reason for her fear.
“I care as much for my son as y’all care for y’all’s. But my son doesn’t walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time,” Flowers insisted.
Stand Your Ground laws may have contributed to an increase in total homicides and homicides by firearms, according to the Rand Corporation.
And some studies have found that the laws are unevenly applied. In Florida, for example, studies found that minority victims of Stand Your Ground laws were significantly less likely to see justice.
One study found that Florida Stand Your Ground cases with white victims were twice as likely to lead to a conviction than those with minority victims. Another found that white homicides with Black victims were found to be justifiable 11 times more often than when the situation was reversed.
Flowers called out the other members of the Judiciary Committee for trying to limit debate on the proposed measure, and said she was relieved her son lives elsewhere “when you’re bringing up crap like this.”
“Do what the hell you wanna do, go ahead,” Flowers said. “But you can’t silence me.”
The measure was defeated, with four votes against and three for the measure. Sen. Bob Ballinger, a Republican who introduced the bill, may reintroduce it later in the session, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Daily Dot reached out to Sen. Flowers and Sen. Clark for comment, but neither responded by press time.
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