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MUSC Opposes Stand Your Ground Laws

On July 20, 2017, Keegan Roberts was shot to death by his neighbor Michael Centanni IV in Jacksonville, FL. Centanni claimed self defense and no charges were brought against him even though Centanni, who was armed, approached Roberts who was sitting in his own vehicle in his driveway at night. Centanni then proceeded to argue with Roberts leading to Centanni shooting Roberts 3 times. Centanni claims that Roberts was the aggressor and that he was just defending himself.  Roberts’ family believes Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law protected Centanni in spite of his clearly aggressive behavior and targeting of Roberts on his own property.

MOBB United for Social Change Opposes the continual use of Florida's Stand Your Ground laws to perpetuate racial bias. The controversial statute has been enacted in 23 states across the US and authorizes a person to use lethal force to defend his or her life against any threat (or perceived threat). As we saw with the George Zimmerman case in Florida, Stand Your Ground laws enable the most violent aggressor to claim self defense and avoid prosecution. Stand Your Ground laws allow prosecutors to quickly dismiss complicated murder cases that they don’t care to prosecute.

Recent studies have shown that racial bias plays an active role in determining who can successfully use Stand Your Ground defenses as well.  A 2015 study found that in cases argued from 2005 to 2013, juries were twice as likely to convict the perpetrator of a crime against a white person than against a person of color. In the case of Centanni, these laws protected the aggressor, insulated the instigator of a violent altercation that led to the death of a young black man. MOBB United for Social Change seeks to repair Stand Your Ground laws so that they are no longer a safe haven for murderers such as Centanni and ZImmerman.

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