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Florida Lawmakers Expected To Revise Stand Your Ground Bill

The new bill will reportedly make it easier for defendants to use it. 

Florida lawmakers are poised to make significant revisions to the current Stand Your Ground bill this week, The New York Times reports. Under the proposed rule, it may allow more defendants to claim self-defense without having to provide evidence to support the claim. Instead, the burden would transfer to the prosecutors, who would have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the rule does not apply.

The Senate passed the revised Stand Your Ground bill Wednesday (Mar. 15) by a winning vote of 23 to 15, ultimately clearing the path for the House of Representatives to pick up the law in the forthcoming weeks, the Times confirms. If the bill were officially passed, the defendant could simply proclaim self-defense, and the prosecution would be forced to prove with various evidence and witnesses, that the violent act was not justified. Republican Senator Rob Bradley suggests the new bill will put the burden where it belongs and uphold the American standard that you are innocent until proven guilty. "If a prosecutor doesn’t have the evidence to prevail at this immunity hearing … the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to win at trial,” Bradley said. "Innocent people will not go free as a result of this bill; this bill isn’t about creating loopholes"

While State Senator Dennis Baxley insists the bill will save a number of people, it does not seem to act on behalf of the other side. The provision reportedly allows people to use deadly force, without the responsibility of removing themselves from the situation before it turns violent, according to the Miami Herald. For example, if the law were passed prior to the high-profile case regarding retired Tampa policeman Curtis Reeves, who cried "Stand Your Ground" after shooting and killing Chad Oulson at a movie theater because he was texting, Reeves wouldn't  have been responsible for proving or explaining his use of deadly force. The prosecution would have had to prove, without a reasonable doubt, why Oulson essentially didn't deserve to be shot.

Democratic Senator Gary Farmer, expressed some concern for the bill during a courthouse debate, saying that it puts prosecutors in a difficult position "of having to prove a negative." "That’s a very difficult proposition regardless of the issue. When you add to that, in order to prove that negative, a prosecutor needs witnesses," he continued. "This bill has unintended consequences of incentivizing shoot-to-kill. Dead men tell no tales."

Following the aftermath of Trayvon Martin's death in 2012, Florida -- aka the "Gunshine State" -- has been thrust at the head of the discussion on self-defense laws in recent years. It is now reportedly up to the House to finish the job in one final hearing, the Herald reports. If the house gives the green light, the state would become the first state to enforce tougher standards or expectations of the prosecutors.

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Supreme Court Decides 'Stand Your Ground' Law Applies To Florida Police As Well

In a landslide decision, Florida police officers will now be able to enforce the state's controversial "stand your ground" law to claim self-defense according to the New York Times. The Stand Your Ground is a law passed by the Florida government in 2005 generally allowing people to stand their ground instead of retreating if they believe that doing so will "prevent death or great bodily harm," according to FindLaw.

According to Fox News 13, the judges ruled unanimously in a 7-0 vote that because the law is designed for "any person" who is acting in self-defense, that since cops are technically people, they too should be included under the protections.

Though many cops and politicians are elated about the decision, many people of color have expressed their outrage. Being that police officer rarely face punishment in racially charged shootings at the hands of law enforcement,  members of Black Lives Matter have come forth to speak their minds.

“Police officers already have full immunity to kill us at will,” said Tiffany Burks, a Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward activist. “This is an extra bonus on top of that. It really is a slap in the face — a blatant one at that.”

This case was reportedly triggered by an incident in 2013, where Jermaine McBean, a mentally ill man, was shot and killed after walking down an Oakland Parkway with an unloaded rifle slug. After entering an apartment complex he was approached by three Broward County sheriff’s deputies who requested for him to drop the weapons. He was unable to hear because he was wearing headphones.

The officer maintains that Mcbean turned his gun on him, but there are witnesses supporting the notion that he never pointed the weapon in the cops direction.

READ MORE: Alabama Mall Gunman Still On The Run After Police Kill Aspiring Solider

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Kenneka Jenkins' Mother Sues Hotel For $50 Million After Daughter Found In Freezer

Kenneka Jenkins' family is reportedly taking legal action against the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois after the teen was discovered dead in the hotel kitchen's walk-in freezer, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Jenkins' mother, Tereasa Martin has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the hotel, alleging that the staff were responsible for her daughter's untimely death.

The lawsuit names the hotel, F&F Realty, Capital Security, and Investigations and Murray Bros. Caddyshack – the restaurant that leased the kitchen – as  liable for Jenkins' death. Martin claims the hotel and other parties failed to secure dangerous areas and hire competent staff to monitor them.

According to court documents, the hotel and security staff ignored multiple warnings about the group of people that were partying in the hotel room where Jenkins was ahead of her disappearance. The lawsuit noted that Jenkins passed several hotel staff members who should have seen that she was in an altered state and prevented her from entering the kitchen.

Hotel personnel also neglected to thoroughly review security footage after learning of Jenkins' disappearance. If they had done so, "they would have been able to locate her which would have prevented her death,” according to the lawsuit. As result of the incident, Jenkins' family claims they suffered tremendous "conscious, physical pain and suffering," humiliation, and loss of wages.

As previously reported, 19-year-old Jenkins attended a hotel room party on the ninth floor of the Crowne Plaza on Sept. 9, 2017, around 1:13 a.m. in a fully coherent state, the lawsuit claims. Around 2:30 a.m. Jenkins' and friends reportedly were leaving the party when she realized she had lost her phone. Two hours later, friends told Martin that her daughter was missing. After Martin contacted the hotel desk, security reviewed the surveillance footage, but did not find anything at the time. Jenkins was officially reported missing at 12:36 p.m. on Sept. 9.

Jenkins was found 21 hours after she was reported missing. Her body was discovered in a double-door walk-in freezer located in an unused kitchen that was accessible to the general public, the lawsuit said. The sticker on the door of the freezer, which contained instruction on how to open was barely visible.

Upon further review, surveillance videos show Jenkins stumbling into the kitchen and walking toward the freezer around 3:32 a.m. She was reportedly visibly inebriated at the time.

Jenkins was pronounced dead on Sept. 10, 2017. Her death was a ruled an accident caused by  hypothermia, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

In addition to the damages regarding her death, Jenkins' family is suing to cover the expenses of her funeral, which was held last year.

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Dr. King's Childhood Home Sold For $1.9 Million To The National Park Service

The two-story Atlanta home that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr spent his formidable years has been sold. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the yellow and brown house on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta was sold for $1.9 million to the National Park Service.

Will Shafroth, CEO of the National Park Foundation said it was hard to place a dollar amount on the location where a lot of Dr. King's character was molded.

"It is difficult to value something this significant in our nation’s history. It is a priceless asset. It is one of the most important places to tell the story of America,” Shafroth said.

Bernice King, daughter of late the civil rights leader, said the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change had been considering selling the home since the passing of their mother Coretta Scott, in 2006. King said the center will focus on nonviolent educational and training programs.

“We are working on creating more robust, nonviolence training,” King said. “Our society is desperately in need of Dr. King’s nonviolent teachings right now in order to create a just, humane and peaceful world. That is what we are trying to put our energy in.”

The home was reportedly built by a white firefighter in 1895 and then purchased by Dr. King's maternal grandfather, Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, who was pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church for $3,500. When King's mother and father wed in 1927, they moved. All of King's siblings including himself were born in the home.

Elizabeth Paradis Stern, spokeswoman for the National Park Service said the preservation of the home will not falter now that it's out of the family's possession.

“The most important thing about this is that this property will be protected and preserved permanently as one of our most important properties,” Stern said. “It is part of the American fabric.”

READ MORE: New Book Details Dr. King's Teenage Years And His Alleged White Girlfriend

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