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Attorney warns about racial undertones of stand your ground

Martin George & Company > Newspaper Articles  > Attorney warns about racial undertones of stand your ground

Attorney warns about racial undertones of stand your ground

Attorney warns about racial undertones of stand your ground

Attorney Martin George has warned that while the United National Congress is promoting its stand your ground proposal, efforts must be made to ensure there are no racial undertones

However, former UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan has called for snipers to be placed in business places to shoot those who come to steal and kill and says human rights should not apply when dealing with gangs.

Inter-Religious Organisation head, Pundit Lloyd Mukram Sirjoo, also weighed in, supporting the UNC’s concept.

They and several others commented yesterday on UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s “light em up” and “load the ‘matic’” calls at UNC meetings earlier this week. Asking what people would do if a criminal invades their home, Persad-Bissessar also pointed to Exodus, Chapter 22 Verse 2 from the Bible to justify her position.

In a telephone interview yesterday, George said one had to bear in mind how the stand your ground law is applied in the US. He cited the case of 17-year-old African American Florida resident Trayvon Martin, who was killed while holding a candy bar. George Zimmerman, who shot Martin, thought it was a gun and that he was under threat.

Attorney George said one could not escape the underlying racial sub-text and context of that scenario, where in a white neighbourhood the youth was seen as a threat.

George said while all in T&T were concerned and sometimes panicked about rising crime, the country has to ensure that even in the propagation of the stand your ground law, there are no racial undertones. He also pointed to the recent statement by a religious leader, who made a sweeping statement racially profiling some perpetrators of crime.

George said while Persad-Bissessar distanced herself from that, she should make it clear there is no hint of any racial undertone in her stand your ground proposal so that people could focus properly on its impact on crime.

He added that it was quite a touchy and interesting issue and one had to balance the rights of homeowners against the surging crime wave.

George said there is a need for more clarity and mature respectful discussion on the topic to elucidate the origins and thinking behind it.

“Because it can open up a can of worms if we’re not careful with it, and create more problems than solutions,” he said.

Khan – No human rights

for criminals

Meanwhile, former minister and MP Dr Fuad Khan said the UNC leader understood the frustration being experienced by citizens across the country.

“Kamla’s just echoing the sentiments of a scared, fed-up population. The time has come for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from the number of deadly criminals who believe we’re helpless. People are fed-up with an incompetent police force and a lack of detection of stolen cars and home invaders,” Khan said.

He added, “Government heads are impotent in this. It wouldn’t have reached here if not for their inability to detect and penalise disgusting criminals. The concept of excessive force being perpetuated by senior police emboldens criminals who believe law enforcement and Government are on their side …so too the concept of human rights should not be allowed to be practiced when dealing with criminal gangs.”

IRO head Pundit Lloyd Mukram Sirjoo questioned if Persad-Bissessar had offered any alternative to stand your ground. But he said home invasions are very rampant and if people entered his premises, he would employ the stand your ground concept.

”You cannot allow people to run rampant on your premises,” he said.

Sirjoo said Hindu scripture stated that if there was a negative situation and one had to go to the extreme to correct it, that is done.

But Presbyterian Church communications manager Michael Cooper-Ochiengh said the church was keeping a distance from the comments.

“We’re very aware it’s election season and this isn’t really something the church would want to comment on because of how it might be perceived. There’s the Old Testament and New Testament, which says we do all in love – and not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” he said.

Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) leader Phillip Alexander meanwhile accused Persad-Bissessar of seeking attention with her comments.

“I’m trying to not involve myself in the desperation circus the Opposition bandwagon has become. Kamla is a lawyer and she knows all common civil law is predicated on the right to own and defend property. This is them being dramatic for attention,” Alexander said.

“What they’re not answering is how all these illegal guns come to be in the country in the first place. Both PNM and UNC deliberately refused to secure the borders and we must make them answer for that.”

Attorney warns about racial undertones of stand your ground

By: Gail Alexander

Guardian Newspaper Trinidad and Tobago

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