The Next 400: Ohio’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill is controversial in Cleveland

The right to kill someone with a firearm if you’re threatened is being challenged in Ohio
Updated: Jan. 8, 2021 at 7:57 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio’s new “Stand Your Ground” law is being challenged throughout the state.

Ward 9 City Councilman Kevin Conwell is leading the charge in Cleveland.

Conwell has written a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine expressing his displeasure and claims that the new law, state bill 175, is biased toward people of color.

Now, any licensed firearm owner from the State of Ohio has the right to shoot anyone if they feel rightfully threatened.

State Bill 175 has been deemed controversial on so many fronts, mostly because it grants civil immunity for deaths or handguns’ injuries.

“Stand your ground is a dangerous bill for the African-American community,” said Kevin Conwell.

The Ward 9 leader went to make it very clear, in his opinion, that this new bill is offensive to Blacks.

“It puts a target on African-Americans backs. I went down to testify against ‘Stand Your Ground’ twice... twice,” said Conwell.

The most infamous example of the “Stand Your Ground” law was the case involving the late Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Black teenager who was fatally shot dead by George Zimmerman in 2012 in Sanford, Fla.

Zimmerman, who was a member of a community watch team, got into an altercation with Martin.

He said he shot Martin in self-defense and was not charged at the time.

The police said there was no evidence to refute his claim of self-defense, and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” prohibited them from arresting or charging him.

Zimmerman was eventually arrested and tried but acquitted of all charges.

The conclusion to that case sparked protest throughout the nation.

While Ohio’s State Bill 175 is not exactly like Florida’s, it’s a language that a person can legally fire their weapon if they feel threatened stays within the same perimeters of law.

Patrick Peacock is one of many Black Police Officers who agrees with the new Ohio “Stand Your Ground” law.

“I think it is necessary for me I don’t really interact with the White community. I interact with Black people in the hood, and these young guys out here they wildling. To protect ourselves, we need “Stand Your Ground,” said Peacock.

He joined many of his fellow officers for breakfast at Annie B and Earl’s Pancake house in Cleveland to discuss why this law protects Police Officers.

Kevin Oliver, who is due to retire, sees both sides of this debate as both an officer and civilian.

“I think ‘Stand Your Ground’ is like a Catch 22. I do understand for most African-Americans, you want to be able to protect yourself in the community, but I also believe it gives some of our white counter-parts an opportunity to have a reason or no reason to kill us,” said Oliver.

The patterns of these discussions within the Black community are not monolithic.

Still, the “Value on Black Life” is paramount.

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