Melissa Harris-Perry, 7/27/13, 10:35 AM ET

Dear Gov. Scott, time to stand against Stand Your Ground

Melissa Harris-Perry’s “Open Letter” goes out to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has protesters outside his office calling for a change to the state’s Stand Your Ground law. “They want real action that shows you understand this law is unacceptable and...

Why Florida’s governor needs to stand against ‘Stand Your Ground’

Updated

There were a whole bunch of folks who deserved a letter this week.
One of the top contenders was Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who claimed that many undocumented youth are drug mules with cantaloupe-sized calves. (Yep, he really said that.) But before I could get to him, King got the verbal smackdown from Speaker of the House John Boehner:

“I want to be clear, there’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials. Earlier this week, Rep. Steve King made comments that were, I think, are deeply offensive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party.”

Don’t worry Steve, I’m going to keep an eye on you because I have a feeling you’re bound to stick your foot in your mouth again. But this week’s letter goes to another politician who seems to be equally tone deaf on an important issue.
Dear Florida Gov. Rick Scott,
It’s me, Melissa.
Maybe you thought the whole brouhaha over the “Stand Your Ground” laws would go away now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted. Not even close.
How’s the noise outside your office, governor?
Are you not hearing the growing presence of people who have been protesting for more than a week imploring you to address the “Stand Your Ground” laws by reconvening state lawmakers? Did you not hear Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton yesterday tell a crowd at the National Urban League’s annual conference that she feels this very law is the reason why her son’s killer was not held accountable for his death?

“A law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable, and to pay for this awful crime.”

Well, surely, Governor, you must have heard the very words of Maddy, also known as Juror B-29, this week during her interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. You know her. She is one of the six citizens, one of your constituents, who was tasked to determine the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman.

“For myself, he’s guilty because the evidence shows he’s guilty…[of] killing Trayvon Martin, but we couldn’t prove that intentionally he killed him, and that’s the way that the law was read to me…I know I went the right way because, by the law, and the way it was followed is the way it went. But if I would have used my heart, I probably would have went [with] a hung jury.”

Did you hear that, governor?
That was your heartbroken citizen telling you that yes she performed her civic duty and followed the law but that in her heart the evidence showed that George Zimmerman was guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. But that is what happens when you have a law on the books that sets up a climate where a gun toting citizen can justify shooting an unarmed person as self-defense.
Since your state, became the first to adopt “Stand Your Ground” in 2005, the number of what are termed as justifiable homicides tripled from 12 to 35 per year between 2005 and 2010.
That’s an increase of 283%. Are you hearing us yet, governor?
What those people outside your office are trying to get you to hear is that it’s going to take a lot more than last year’s quickly assembled task force to show that you take their concerns around this law seriously. They want real action that shows you understand this law is unacceptable and should not be used to justify the death of an unarmed teenager.
The problem does not begin with the tragedy that happened to Trayvon Martin. The problem does not even begin with the actions of George Zimmerman. Governor, the problem begins and remains with the “Stand Your Ground” law.
Sincerely,
Melissa

Why Florida's governor needs to stand against 'Stand Your Ground'

Updated