Arkansas is one of the only states in the South that does not currently have a Stand Your Ground law. The consequences of this policy have been deadly, perhaps most infamously in Florida, where George Zimmerman was able to successfully claim self-defense in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. The Republican-controlled state legislature in Arkansas has been trying to enact this policy for years, and on Wednesday, members of the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee attempted to breeze through its latest attempt.
The measure failed by a narrow vote of 4-3, and I’d like to think state Senator Stephanie Flowers had something to do with that. In the video above, Senate Committee Chairman Alan Clark allowed Flowers to comment, but asked that she do so quickly.
“I’ll be as quick as I can,” Flowers begins, “as quick as it takes to kill somebody, I guess.” God. Damn.
From there, Flowers doesn’t attempt to hide her anger, delivering an impassioned plea against white complacency in the face of gun violence that has devastating consequences for black people in the United States. Stand Your Ground laws are racist: white shooters who kill black people are found justified 11 times more frequently than when the race of the shooter and victim is reversed, and a study on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law found that, when the victim is white, defendants were nearly twice as likely to be convicted than if the victim is nonwhite.
“It doesn’t take much to look on the local news every night and see how many black kids, black boys, black men, are being killed with these ‘stand your ground’ defenses that these people raise, and they get off,” she said.
“I take issue with that. I’m the only person here of color, okay? I am a mother too. And I have a son. And I care as much for my son as y’all care for y’alls. But my son doesn’t walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time.”
In her anger, Flowers forces her white colleagues to acknowledge that racism is not an abstract concept; it is a deadly, violent force that kills.“I thank God he is [living elsewhere] when you’re bringing up crap like this,” she said of her son.“It offends me, and then to limit the debate too? This is crazy.”
Flowers’s anger in the face of her colleagues’ nonchalance reminds us that complacency, not anger, is really what’s out of line here.
“Senator, you need to stop,” Clark intervened. Flowers refused:“No, the hell I don’t.”