Florida Democrat at the center of Trayvon Martin media circus was for Stand Your Ground law before she was against it

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April 19, 2012

The congresswoman who has stood next to Trayvon Martin’s parents at rallies and emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the Sanford Police Department supported the "Stand Your Ground" law at the center of the case.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D, Fla.) voted for the self-defense law when she was a state senator in 2005, five years before she was elected to represent Miami—and Martin’s family—in Congress.

Wilson has made several appearances on MSNBC and other news shows denouncing the shooting; however, she has tiptoed around the statute in question.

"That particular bill needs to be tweaked," she told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing. "It is being misused in this case. This is racial profiling; this is murder. This has nothing to do with ‘Stand Your Ground.’"

She went on to talk about establishing a commission to study racial profiling as a state senator, but left out her support of the bill. She has called for a similar commission at the federal level.

Wilson was unavailable for comment as of press time.

Democrats across the country played significant roles in passing self-defense laws with massive, bipartisan support at the state level.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano signed Arizona’s "Stand Your Ground" law while she was governor; at the time, a Napolitano spokesperson said the governor believed in the "fundamental right of self-defense."

The move earned her glowing praise from the National Rifle Association.

A former Democratic gubernatorial nominee championed "Stand Your Ground" in the Florida Senate. Former state Sen. Rod Smith sponsored the bill and helped it pass unanimously through the upper chamber. He now serves as chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Current TV host and former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm blasted "Stand Your Ground" laws on her March 21 program, blaming conservative groups for the "cluster of pro-NRA bills that shot through state legislatures."

She did not mention that as governor she signed a nearly identical bill in 2006.

Wilson, who represents Martin’s home district, joined leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus calling on states to repeal the law in March.

The House resolution claims that "Stand Your Ground" laws "were drafted by organizations, corporations, and individuals that ignored advice from experts explaining that such laws would compromise public safety, disproportionately impact communities of color, and would result in offenders circumventing prosecution."

Zimmerman was taken into custody on the night of the February shooting, but was not charged in connection to the killing. His release sparked nationwide outrage led by MSNBC hosts Al Sharpton.

A special prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder last week. Wilson praised the decision, calling Zimmerman’s initial release "unconscionable."

Wilson has provided several excuses as to why she supported the law. After a drug dealer killed nine-year-old Sherdavia Jenkins with a stray bullet in 2006, she went to great lengths to bury her old "yea" vote.

Wilson told the Miami Herald that "she was out of the room at the time" of the vote even though records showed she voted in favor of it, adding that lawmakers had not "really researched the consequences."

Twenty-five states have adopted self-defense laws similar to the law Wilson supported in Florida.

Published under: Congress , Trayvon Martin