Florida has been in the national consciousness over its Stand Your Ground laws, used as defenses in the famous shootings of unarmed African-American teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. In both cases, the white defendents were acquitted of any charges, sparking anger across the nation. Now Florida seeks to expand its Stand Your Ground laws. Among the the proposed amendments is one that seeks to expunge the records of Stand Your Ground cases where charges were dropped.
Media Matters has reported that journalists fear that this expunging of records will block journalists' access to public records and lend itself to gaps in the public knowledge or public accountability. In particular, Media Matters's story cites the Tampa Bay Times's award-winning investigation into Stand Your Ground, which used arrest records and court records to monitor how the law was being enacted across the state of Florida. If these amendments pass, they could hamper any further investigations of this kind.
This dangerous expansion of Stand Your Ground will limit public knowledge of how the law is being enforced. It has already moved on from the Florida State House to the Senate. Sign this petition to tell the Florida State Senate to kill this bill!
To the Florida State Senate:
I am writing today to tell you that I deeply disapprove of the proposal to expunge records of court cases involving the Stand Your Ground laws where charges have been dropped. This amendment to Stand Your Ground will bar the public from accessing information through the use of public records. It will also prevent journalists from reporting accurately on cases involving Stand Your Ground. I urge you to show the importance of keeping public records transparent and as accurate as possible by stopping this bill from advancing in the state legislature.