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Monday, July 22, 2013




History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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IN BRIEFThe 'Stand Your Ground' law has precedents going back to the 18th century; but whether or not it maintains the spirit of earlier and original legislation is another matter.



The 'Stand Your Ground Law,' first adopted by the State of Florida in 2005, has precedents in the 18th century British 'Castle Doctrine,' in an 1895 US Supreme Court ruling on self defense, in a 1921 ruling by Oliver Wendell Holmes and in 1985 in a Colorado defense against home invasions.

RELEVANT DATES showing the origins of 'Stand Your Ground' alongside progress and setbacks in civil rights for American Blacks.

Origins of the 'Stand your Ground Law'
18tth century- The Castle Doctrine- According to 18th-century Presbyterian minister and biblical commentator Matthew Henry, the prohibition of murder found in the Torah contains an exception for legitimate self-defense. A home defender who struck and killed a thief caught in the act of breaking in at night was not guilty of bloodshed. “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the thief owes no blood-debt to the home-defender; but if the thief lives, he owes a blood-debt to the home-defender and must make restitution.”The American interpretation of this doctrine is largely derived from the English Common Law as it stood in the 18th century. (Wikipedia)

Abolition of Slavery
1865- December 18- The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery is added to the Constitution.
1866- Jun 16 - The 14th Amendment declaring all persons born on American soil, to be citizens (including blacks) is passed by Congress.
1870 - 15th Amendment Ratified, giving Blacks but not women the right to vote. 
1875- March 1 - The Civil Rights Act, giving equal rights to blacks in jury duty and accommodation is passed by the United
States Congress
1870s-1930s- epidemic of white mob lynchings of blacks, mostly in the American South.
1875- March 1 - The Civil Rights Act, giving equal rights to blacks in jury duty and accommodation is passed by the United States Congress.  It would be overturned in 1883 by the U.S. Supreme Court
1883-  Civil Rights Act overturned in 1883 by the U.S. Supreme Court with adverse effects for black Americans.

'Stand Your Ground' Law 
1895 a descendent of the 'Castle Doctrine' (see above, 18th cent) Stand your ground" governs U.S. federal case law in which right of self-defense is asserted against a charge of criminal homicide. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Beard v. U.S. (158 U.S. 550 (1895)) that a man who was "on his premises" when he came under attack and "...did not provoke the assault, and had at the time reasonable grounds to believe, and in good faith believed, that the deceased intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm...was not obliged to retreat, nor to consider whether he could safely retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground) (Wikipedia)

1896- May 18- Plessy versus Ferguson decision by the Supreme Court states that racial segregation is approved under the "separate but equal" doctrine.
1909- May 30- The National Conference of the Negro is conducted,
leading to the formation of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP). 
-Jim Crowe laws reinforce segregation throughout the South.
 Further backing for 'Stand your ground'
 1921- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. declared in Brown v. United States (1921)
 (256 U.S. 335, 343 (16 May 1921)), a case that upheld the "no duty to 
retreat" maxim, that "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the 
presence of an uplifted knife".[4)
First Black Judge 
1937- March 26- William Henry Hastie is appointed to the federal
bench, becoming the first African-American to become a federal judge. 
Harlem Riots 
1943- June 21- Race riots in Detroit and Harlem cause forty deaths and seven hundred injuries.
1948- July 26- Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the United States military in signed into effect by President Harry S. Truman.

Rosa Parks
1955- December 1- Alabama-  Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, refuses to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, prompting the boycott and NAACP protect that would lead to the declaration that bus segregation laws were unconstitutional by a federal court.

Desegregation and Martin Luther King.
1956- March 12- One hundred and one congressmen from Southern states call for massive resistance to the Supreme Court ruling on desegregation.
1957- April 29- U.S. Congress approves the first civil rights bill since reconstruction with additional protection of voting rights.
1963- August 28- The Civil Rights march on Washington DC for Jobs and Freedom culminates with Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Over 200,000 people participated in the march for equal rights.  A monument is now planned on the National Mall to commemorate Dr. King, the speech, and his impact on Civil Rights.
1964- June 29- An omnibus legislation in the U.S. Congress on Civil Rights is passed.  It banned discrimination in jobs, voting and accommodations.

Voting Rights.
1965- August 6 - The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.  Two significant portions of the act; the outlawing of the requirement of potential voters to take a literacy test in order to qualify and the provision of federal registration of voters in areas with less than 50% of all voters registered.

1967 Race Riots.
1967 July - race riots plague U.S. cities.  In Newark, New Jersey, twenty-six are killed, fifteen hundred injured and one thousand arrested from July 12 to 17.  One week later, July 23 to 30, forty are killed, two thousand injured, and five thousand left homeless after rioting in Detroit, known as the 12th Street Riots, decimate a black ghetto.  The riots are eventually stopped by over 12,500 Federal troopers and National Guardsmen.

Martin Luther King Assassinated.
1968 - Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King assassinated. Black rioting breaks out all over the eastern US.

'Stand your ground Law'.
1985- The term "Make My Day Law" arose at the time of the 1985 Colorado statute that shielded people from any criminal/civil suits for using force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home. It is named after a phrase uttered before carrying out an execution conceived as justified by the detective in the movie 'Dirty Harry' 
1986- January 20- Martin Luther King Day is officially observed for the first time as a federal holiday in the United States.

Rodney King.
1991- March 3- Los Angeles- Prolonged and brutal police beating of black motorist Rodney King video taped and broadcast.
1992- April 29- Los Angeles- Acquittal of police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.
-on the same day as the verdict on the Rodney King case was announced, the Los Angeles black neighbourhoods erupted in rioting which resulted in 53 deaths.

OJ Simpson.
1995- Oct 3- Los Angeles- black football star and actor OJ Simpson is found not guilty in the stabbing murders of his ex wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson's celebrity and the prospect of a black-on-white murder makes the California v. Simpson case one of the most racially charged in US history.

'Stand Your ground'- 21st Century.
2004- - in Pensacola Fla., James Workman, "a 77-year-old retiree (was) asleep with his wife in an RV outside their hurricane-damaged home in 2004. And here came a menacing intruder, prowling through the dark, bursting into the trailer. The homeowner shot the intruder, then had to wait months — painful, anxiety-filled months in legal jeopardy — before prosecutors decided the two shots he fired were justified, that what he did was protect himself and his wife."
2005- In response to the 2004 case, Florida is the first state to pass a 'Stand Your Ground' Law. The law states that a “person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” A person who uses deadly force “is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force.” “Stand your ground laws” have spread across states in the West and South."
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