New York, NY — Today, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, held a hearing on so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws. The hearing, held in light of the controversy surrounding George Zimmerman’s acquittal on all criminal charges after confessing to killing Trayvon Martin, highlighted the serious problems with these laws, which are used to exonerate the use of deadly force in the pursuit and shooting of innocent, unarmed victims.
ColorOfChange.org, along with the Center for Media and Democracy and other coalition partners, submitted a letter to Sen. Durbin. ColorOfChange also submitted testimony for the committee hearing, outlining the disparate racial impact of “Stand Your Ground” laws and the role of corporations and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in promulgating these laws across the nation. The testimony additionally details how the ColorOfChange community is taking action to urge repeal of these laws where they’re on the books.
In response to the hearing, Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange, issued the following statement: “Starting in the fall of 2011, ColorOfChange.org, working with a number of other organizational partners, has taken the lead in contacting corporations known to have funded ALEC, informing them of ALEC's responsibility for pushing voter suppression legislation and deadly so-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ — also known as ‘Shoot First’ — laws in state legislatures throughout the country, and urging them to terminate their membership. In response, over 50 of ALEC’s corporate funders have now cut ties to the group, but ALEC has made no effort to reverse the damage it’s done; in fact, ALEC legislators have continued to introduce new ‘Shoot First’ bills in the 2013 legislative session.
“ColorOfChange is the nation's largest online civil rights organization, with a 900,000-strong membership made up of Black Americans and our allies of every race and class, which works to leverage the voices of our members to create positive political and social change for everyone. By contrast, the voices of everyday Americans are deliberately excluded from our democratic process by ALEC, a corporate bill laundry that needs secrecy to survive. ALEC member legislators have repeatedly sought to quash their constituents’ right to know what corporate cash is influencing their elected officials’ legislative decisions, which makes Sen. Durbin’s hearing today all the more vital.
“In the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal on all criminal charges for the killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin — and particularly with what we know now about how Florida’s ‘Shoot First’ law has served to foreclose not only criminal, but also likely any civil liability for the confessed shooter — ColorOfChange remains committed to demanding that all corporations still funding ALEC stop doing so.”
With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization