Group holds forum on Stand Your Ground law

  • Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rounette Johnson/For The Times
Presiding elder Rosalyn Coleman of The Meeting Place, who welcomed attendees, asked the question, What is the Stand Your Ground Law in South Carolina?

“What do we tell the living”? A community forum for the voice of the people was held Thursday, Aug. 29 at the Winyah Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.
My Brother’s Keeper, an entity of the Georgetown Outreach Ministry, hosted the event.
This forum highlighted the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
“We can’t bring him back, but we can say ‘What do we tell the living?’,” said director Jerry Harper  of My Brother’s Keeper.
By being targeted we needed to have a dialogue that affects our young people.
My Brother’s Keeper is a program geared towards identifying and providing the training, skills, counseling, information, and resources required to help participants establish and maintain the financial freedom and personal independence needed to become responsible, civic-minded adults.
My Brother’s Keeper’s mission is to provide an avenue for young adults to work collectively as independent entrepreneurs to avoid the pitfalls that contribute to their involvement in the criminal justice system.
Mental health, the City of Georgetown Police Department, and members of city and county council as well as the mayor were present to discuss their point of view, added Harper.
A panel of 12 participants was on stage at the auditorium to answer questions ranging from the South Carolina Stand Your Ground Law to profiling of black American males.
The panelists included local NAACP chapter president Morris Johnson, Myrtle Beach assistant chief of police Kelvin Waites, Melissa Gunn with the Department of Juvenile Justice, police officer Jonathan Giles, Ethel Bellamy of Georgetown Mental Health, Major Johnnie Deas of the City of Georgetown Police Department, Louis Morant of Morant & Morant Law Firm, Benny Swans, community activist, Pat Singleton Young, and director of multicultural  student affairs at CCU, Hepzibah Shemic Pawl, associate professor of Sociology at CCU, professor Debra Perkins of CCU, and Nadia Black, Georgetown’s assistant solicitor.
Zenobia Washington was the moderator.
During her opening statement she said, “The Trayvon Martin death brought on a lot of anger, and we need to know how the stand your ground law works.
“I thought about the fact that we can continue to be angry or be proactive. Many of our young people do not know how laws can affect them and information is so important,” said Washington.
She set the ground rules and opened up the forum for questions from the audience.
Presiding elder Rosalyn Coleman of The Meeting Place asked the question, What is the Stand Your Ground Law in South Carolina?
One of the panelists answered her by saying you are the king of your castle. You have the right to protect your property.                         
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in another place where he has a right to be, including, but not limited to, his place of business, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime as defined in Section 16–1–60.   
Discussions included profiling of blacks and probable cause for stopping an individual.
A panelist from the Solicitor’s office talked about racism in the judicial system.
Gloria Barr Ford stood up and stated Trayvon Martin had a cell phone and should have called 911 rather than calling a friend.
Rev. Patrick Staggers of Dickerson AME Church asked the question, Do you know where your children are?
“I see young people walking the streets at night,” Staggers said.
“When we began to educate ourselves as parents, then we can educate our children.”
The forum lasted for two hours. Organizers hope to have a follow-up forum soon.

By Rounette Johnson
For The Times

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