Stand Your Ground Should NOT be Used to Justify the Killing of Another Black Student in FL

November 28, 2012

Contact: Jennifer Farmer, Advancement Project at 202-728-9557, x341 or



Voter Protection, Civil Rights Group Advancement Project Calls for Repeal of Controversial Law

(Washington) – In a tragic demonstration of the misguided “Stand Your Ground Law,” the statute may once again be evoked in the shooting death of yet another Black teenager in Florida. Advancement Project, a civil rights organization dedicated to racial justice, is calling for an immediate repeal of the law.

According to investigators, 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis of Jacksonville, Fla., was shot and killed by 45-year-old Michael David Dunn following an argument over loud music. Russell sat in the back seat of an SUV with friends in a parking lot last week when Dunn pulled up and asked them to turn the music down. Words were exchanged between Davis and Dunn, who pulled a weapon and fired eight or nine times, striking Davis twice. The teenager, who was Black, died at the scene. His father said his son was unarmed.

Dunn, who is White, claims self-defense. Investigators say he felt “threatened” before opening fire, leaving a possibility for legal protection under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

Dunn has been arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder. He is being held without bail. Dunn’s attorney states that her client “acted very responsibly.”

Stand Your Ground, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are being threatened, was first passed in Florida in 2005. Near-identical legislation has since passed in at least 10 other states including South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan and Mississippi. Less than nine months ago, George Zimmerman of Sanford, Fla., used “Stand Your Ground” as his legal defense for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, a17-year-old, unarmed Black student.

“We can’t wait until another Black child is killed in Florida before the state sees the fallacy of Stand Your Ground. This law is not about self-defense. It is a criminal protection law,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “It not only sanctions killing a person at will if one feels threatened, but it reflects racial biases in how it is evoked and enforced. It’s no surprise that the most high-profile cases surrounding the law both involve Black teenage boys who appeared ‘threatening’ to their assailants. It’s bad public policy that must be repealed now.”

According to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, data shows a near-doubling of “justifiable homicides” from 2005-2011 in states where Stand Your Ground passed. Data also shows that, while White killers of Black victims comprise only 3.1% of all homicides, these cross-racial killings constitute 15.6% of justifiable homicides.

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Advancement Project is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization.  From its inception, Advancement Project has worked "on-the-ground," helping organized communities of color dismantle and reform unjust and inequitable policies that undermine the promise of democracy. It combines law, communications, policy and technology to create workable solutions and achieve systemic change. For more information, visit