ColorOfChange responds to reports that ALEC, NRA pushed gun law that Trayvon Martin’s killer is using as his defense

Civil Rights Organization Calls on Media to Investigate the connection between American Legislative Exchange Council’s model legislation and law enforcement’s refusal to arrest and charge George Zimmerman.

March 22, 2012

NEW YORK – The following is a statement from ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson.

As more facts related to this tragedy are revealed, we know that a law pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Rifle Association is providing George Zimmerman with a defense for taking Trayvon Martin’s life. ColorOfChange members are well aware of ALEC’s promotion of discriminatory voter ID laws that threaten Black folks’ ability to participate fully as citizens in this country. Now we also know that the behind-the-scenes group also threatens Americans’ ability to walk in our neighborhoods without fear that our lives can be taken by overzealous vigilantes.

Our online community knows that ALEC doesn’t act alone. Its membership consists of legislators and corporations who work together to push legislation that benefits their interests. More than 75,000 ColorOfChange members have stood up against ALEC’s promotion of discriminatory voter ID laws. Now, we see that this group of shadow legislators and their corporate backers – companies with household brand names – has pushed this so-called Stand Your Ground law in statehouses all over the country.

ColorOfChange calls on the media to shine a spotlight on the connection between ALEC, its corporate partners and the gun law that set the stage for the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin. Martin’s death at Zimmerman’s hands has held up a mirror to the fears that Black men and boys and the people who love them live with constantly. If ALEC is in some way connected to Martin’s death, the public needs to know.

Read more here:

56 Responses to REPEAL SYG LAW

  1. Angela Corey, Prosecutor of Zimmerman and Dunn, Is Feeling the Heat From Blacks in Florida

    In the aftermath of the verdict of Michael Dunn in the death of Jordan Davis in Florida, there is one figure that is coming under increased criticism from African-American elected officials and others: Angela B. Corey.

    Corey, the State Attorney in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court, has prosecuted a far higher number of young African-American men than her predecessor and has put a disproportionate number of Black men on death row, her critics charge.

    In addition, she has been criticized for her office’s decision to charge Marissa Alexander, a Black woman who fired a warning shot to deter an abusive husband, and have her sentenced to 60 years in prison. Corey was the prosecutor who decided to charge George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, when many officials suggest that a jury might have convicted him of a lesser charge rather than finding him not guilty.

    “There is a major problem with how she applies the law, particularly when it comes to people of color, who seem to be disproportionately affected by these decisions,” said Alan B. Williams, a member of the state’s House of Representatives and chairman of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, in an interview with

  2. ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ tackles Trayvon Martin case. Cybil Shepherd, on location downtown, plays a George Zimmerman-style shooter; ‘SVU’ episode will air in October.

    It was only a matter of time — the Trayvon Martin shooting is getting a ripped-from-the-headlines “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” treatment.

    Cybill Shepherd was seen Tuesday at the courthouse on 60 Centre St., filming a scene for an episode of the NBC crime drama in which she plays a vigilante-like character loosely based on Florida neighborhood watch gunman George Zimmerman.

    “Arrested Development” star Jeffrey Tambor plays her lawyer.

  3. Florida legislators have rejected a call for a special session to repeal the state’s “stand your ground” law.

    An overwhelming number of Florida legislators have rejected a call for a special session to repeal the state’s “stand your ground” law.

    The Department of State on Tuesday released a final tally. It showed 108 legislators voted against the special session while 47 voted for it. Four legislators didn’t vote.

    The vote was triggered by a written request by 33 legislators for the special session. They were urged to do so by protesters upset with the July verdict in the George Zimmerman case.

    A “yes” vote by three-fifths of the Republican-majority Legislature would have resulted in a special session.

    The vote was split largely along partisan lines. Seven Democrats joined with Republicans in voting no.

    Protesters who pushed for the poll ended their protest at the Florida Capitol last week.

  4. Ypsilanti City Council approves resolution asking state to repeal ‘Stand Your Ground’ law

    At Tuesday’s regular Ypsilanti City Council meeting, Council Member Ricky Jefferson recalled a confrontation in which he found himself “looking down a barrel of a gun” belonging to a man whose car had just been vandalized.

    Jefferson said he was minding his own business and walking over to his sister’s house in Ypsilanti Township, but the man with the gun assumed Jefferson was responsible for the vandalism.

    The man held Jefferson there until police came, and he was detained for several hours until it was found his finger prints didn’t match those on the car.

    Jefferson said he is fully in support of residents’ right to defend themselves, but said that incident haunts him and forced him to reconsider his initial support Michigan’s stand your ground law.

    Jefferson said he could have easily been shot and those pulling trigger could have claimed he was a threat.

    “I’m also a person who believes in the right to protect yourself from great bodily harm if approached by someone, but since this law was passed in 2006 it must be reviewed … because of tragic abuses,” he said.

  5. After Trayvon Martin Verdict, Durbin Pushes 300 Companies on ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

    In preparation for a previously announced hearing on controversial “stand your ground” laws announced after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., sent letters to more than 300 possible corporate backers of the American Legislative Exchange Council, requesting their position of such policies in states across the country.

    Durbin may have a hard time getting Anheuser-Busch, BP, Comcast or the Koch Industries to file formal responses to Durbin about laws like the one that gained notoriety in the case of killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, but Durbin’s going to try nonetheless, given that those companies back ALEC, which in turn pushed “stand your ground” laws. The letter, released by Durbin’s office, says the following:

    “I write to seek information regarding your company’s position on “stand your ground” legislation that was adopted as a national model by an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),” Durbin wrote. “In 2005, ALEC approved the adoption of model ‘stand your ground’ legislation entitled the ‘Castle Doctrine Act.’ This model legislation was based on Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law, and it changes the criminal law regarding self-defense and provides immunity for certain uses of deadly force.

    “Although ALEC does not maintain a public list of corporate members or donors, other public documents indicate that your company funded ALEC at some point during the period between ALEC’s adoption of model “stand your ground” legislation in 2005 and the present day. I acknowledge your company’s right to actively participate in the debate of important political issues, regardless of your position, and I recognize that a company’s involvement with ALEC does not necessarily mean that the company endorses all positions taken by the organization. Therefore I am seeking clarification whether companies that have funded ALEC’s operations in the past currently support ALEC and the model ‘stand your ground’ legislation.”

    • Yahtc says:

      That’s the way to do it !

      • Ellisheva says:

        I was recently educated – learned of ALEC through the documentary “Thirteenth”. At first I was so shocked that such an organization existed…. Under our new executive “regime” I am getting to feel like this is – fear that this type of abuse of government has become the new normal.

  6. ABA holds hearing on ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

    At a Thursday hearing, Illinois Appellate Court Judge Michael Hyman, chair of the ABA Coalition on Racial & Ethnic Justice, laid out the questions that the ABA’s National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws is grappling with—and that he said the nation has to face—in the wake of the 2012 Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida and similar cases.

    “Do ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws make our society safer, or more dangerous?” Hyman asked. “Do they save lives, or do they take more lives? Are they neutral, or do they disproportionately impact people of color?”

    The task force held this Stand Your Ground Hearing—the second of four planned hearings around the country—at the ABA’s headquarters building in Chicago.

    On the books in about 30 states, Stand Your Ground laws expand the definition of self-defense traditionally understood to encompass threats to one’s home or person, said Leigh-Ann A. Buchanan, co-chair of the task force. Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown objected to the fact that these laws can give an untrained person the ability to become “investigator, judge, jury and executioner all in one.”

    Published studies have shown that Stand Your Ground laws have the opposite impact of what’s advertised, said Jack Cutrone, executive director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Burglary, robbery and aggravated assaults have not dropped in states with these laws, while the homicide rate is collectively up 8 percent. Cutrone added that the percentage of black-on-white killings found justified as self-defense has dropped significantly in states with Stand Your Ground laws, while white-on-black killings are now much more likely to be found justifiable.

    The Rev. Dr. Janette C. Wilson, senior adviser to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., called for Congress to uniformly define terms like “reasonable fear” or the “justifiable use of force” across states. She said bar associations and other legal groups should file lawsuits state by state challenging the constitutionality of Stand Your Ground laws. “Otherwise, what is ‘reasonable’ will be determined from a racist perspective,” she said. “Had Trayvon’s case not been given public visibility, it would have been just another dead child in the state of Florida.”

  7. ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws To Be Scrutinized For Racial Bias By Civil Rights Commission

    Trayvon Martin Case To Be Investigated By U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

    On Friday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights began an investigation on whether or not the “Stand Your Ground” law around the country has a racial bias. After February 2012 when the laws received national attention after the murder of Trayvon Martin, authorities initially did not arrest suspect George Zimmerman for the crime due to the “stand your ground” law. The law allows defenders to ‘stand their ground’ and defend themselves without first retreating, allowing anyone to use deadly force in response to a threat.

    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights approved the investigation by a 5-3 vote today in downtown Washington D.C. “This is something the commission has not done in decades — a full-blown field investigation of an issue with potential civil rights ramifications,” Said Michael Yaki, the democratic commissioner responsible for the initial push for an investigation. “We’re going to take our own cut at it, go down, dig through records at the district attorney, police level and other things, and start going through … to see whether or not, as some people suspect, that there is bias in the assertion or the denial of Stand Your Ground, depending on the race of the victim or the race of the person asserting the defense.”

  8. United States of ALEC

    Moyers & Company presents “United States of ALEC,” a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of — ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

    Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”

    In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it.

  9. The FULL LIST of corporate members of ALEC, the right-wing group behind “Stand Your Ground” laws #icymi

  10. CSGV ‏ @CSGV:

    Disturbing article about how #NRA conspired w/ #ALEC to ban stings of corrupt gun dealers. Sickening. #p2 #Trayvon

  11. ALECexposed ‏ @ALECexposed:

    Rep. Hank Johnson Calls Out ALEC on the House Floor #ALEC #ALECexposed #enviro #prisons #ShootFirst #ClimateChange

  12. Mike Bloomberg ‏ @MikeBloomberg:

    Avg number of justifiable homicide cases per year in FL before Stand Your Ground: 12. After: 36. We must repeal these laws:

  13. Mike Bloomberg: “Stand Your Ground” laws pushed by NRA have not made our country safer. They’ve made us less safe:

  14. BREAKING: Wendy’s is the 6th Firm to Say It is No Longer a Member of ALEC #ALEC #ALECexposed #DumpALEC

  15. Meet The ALEC Staffers Who Help Corps and NRA Write Laws Like Those That Made TrayvonMartin’s Murder “Legal”

    The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the most powerful corporate front group you’ve never heard of. The group, sponsored by some of America’s largest corporations, writes legislation that tends to benefit its donors and ships these template bills to state legislatures for compliant lawmakers to pass. ALEC has pushed for legislation doing everything from attacking workers’ collective bargaining rights, to making it harder for low-income Americans to vote, to the Stand Your Ground law that could prevent justice in the Trayvon Martin case.

    One of the reasons ALEC is able to do this is because it’s extremely secretive. ALEC does not openly brand the legislation it passes off to legislators, and its staff is mostly hidden from the public eye.

    Until now. We dug into ALEC’s personnel to make a short profile of just some of the key Washington, D.C.-based ALEC staffers who help write the laws that pollute our communities, deny Americans access to health care, suppress our right to vote, and generally harm Americans. Their corporate-written bills may be secretly passed on to legislators, but these staffers can’t hide behind ALEC’s veil and avoid taking responsibility for the laws they produce and advance.

  16. ALEC writes Gov Christie legislation. Christie’s problems worsen in New Jersey via @maddow

  17. BREAKING: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ends support for ALEC

  18. Roxbury `Justice for Trayvon’ forum tonight

    Over 200 concerned residents are expected at a Roxbury community town hall forum titled “Justice For Trayvon Martin!” at 6 p.m. this evening at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, Roxbury.

    Residents from all walks of life will gather “to discuss the case of Trayvon Martin and the moves they are trying to do here with Senate Bill 661″ Massachusetts version of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill,” said organizer and local activist, Jamarhl Crawford who has a goal to “move people to action against the bill that’s being proposed here” in Massachusetts.

    The forum looks to inform residents about Senate Bill 661 “An act relative to the common defense” and House Bill 1568 “An act relative to civil rights and public safety” and follows a nationwide rally for justice for Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American male who was shot to death on Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman who said he feared for his life when he confronted Martin on a walkway of the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community in Sanford, just north of Orlando, Fla.

  19. Rick Cooley ‏ @rcooley123

    Megyn Kelly Allows ALEC Representative to Paint Organization as Innocuous | Video Cafe

  20. ‏ @PlanetPOV

    ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures | People For the American Way: via

  21. SPREAD THE WORD! Intuit Inc also announced it has severed ties with ALEC Bring on the next one!

  22. Hey 3Chics!

    Did you know Frito-Lay Inc supports ALEC and it’s “Kill at Will” laws?

  23. ALEC loses its anonymity

    Most political organizations crave the spotlight. A higher profile generally means more influence, more power, and more contributions from donors. Groups on the left and right, from the NRA to, want to be household names because it maximizes their ability to have an impact.

    But there are exceptions. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has traditionally been anonymous, working behind the scenes to advance a far-right agenda far from the public spotlight — which was always the intended plan. Shadowy obscurity allowed ALEC to be more effective and made it easier for lawmakers to follow the group’s lead without controversy.

    That’s quickly changing as ALEC finds itself where it didn’t want to be: in the spotlight.

    ALEC’s role in crafting Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, and the controversial measure’s role in the Trayvon Martin killing, brought new interest in the organization responsible for so many state proposals nationwide.

    And this, in turn, has made ALEC’s corporate benefactors nervous.

    More here:

  24. Obama’s Gun Control Conspiracy [video] _Check out Mashedpotatobulletin

    While great for a laugh, this excerpt from the Colbert Report illustrates how the political rumor mill stretches and contorts real world actions into messages that create fears in the general public that don’t actually exist.

  25. Barack Obama on Gun Control

  26. A place in hell is reserved for this blood thirsty witch!

  27. Commentary: Trayvon, Justice and a Group Named ALEC
    Why justice for Trayvon Martin must include countering ALEC’s efforts to undermine our democracy.

    God forbid, but if George Zimmerman ever goes to trial and gets acquitted of the vicious slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by using Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis of his defense, you can partially blame this moral travesty of justice on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

    You see, over the past 30 years ALEC has been responsible for influencing some of the more conservative legislation throughout the country. Made up of national and state legislators and funded by the Koch Brothers and the National Rifle Association among others, ALEC creates model legislation for their members to push.

    ALEC, along with some input from their staunch supporters the NRA, wrote the Castle Doctrine Act, which was the template for the so called Castle laws that have been implemented in several states, including Texas, Georgia and Mississippi. The Castle Doctrine Act is also the basis for Florida’s hotly contested “Stand Your Ground” law. Thanks to Castle laws, Texas and Georgia have seen a 50% increase in justifiable homicides. Florida has seen the number of justifiable homicides increase by more than 50%.

  28. Anita Ross ‏ @AnitaChristine1:

    If you want people to die of gunshots before they die in auto crashes, @StateFarm’s Ron Spies is there, helping pass #StandYourGround #ALEC

  29. Legislators with ALEC Ties

  30. Fla. task force told ‘stand your ground’ law confusing, needs change after Martin shooting

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A task force examining Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law was told Thursday that the Trayvon Martin shooting is one example of the law’s ambiguity and the potential unintended consequences it has created.

    “What we’ve discovered is, in a drug deal gone bad, people die, and this is the defense,” Buddy Jacobs, general counsel for the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, told the 18-member panel. “Our conclusion is that this law ought to be repealed. We don’t think it’s a thing we can tweak.”

    The 2005 law is under nationwide scrutiny following the Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford of the unarmed, 17-year-old Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Martin’s family and supporters want Zimmerman arrested, but police say they were prevented from doing so because of the law. At least 20 other states have similar stand your ground laws.

    • Repeal the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law

      Criminal Defense Attorney John Burris talks about a task force set up by state Democrats to investigate whether changes should be recommended or there should be a possible repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law.

      [wpvideo CNIW9EXS]

  31. ALEC Has Pushed The NRA’s “Stand Your Ground” Law Across The Nation

    The legislation apparently preventing the successful prosecution of Trayvon Martin’s killer was reportedly adopted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as model legislation that the shadowy group has spent years promoting across the country with the help of their allies in the National Rifle Association.

    Formed in 1973 by conservative activists including Paul Weyrich and state legislators like then-Illinois State Rep. Henry Hyde, ALEC has earned infamy throughout the progressive movement for its ability to promote model legislation favorable to its corporate funders through statehouses across the country.

    Legal experts have noted that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law may prevent George Zimmerman from ever being successfully prosecuted for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has claimed that he acted in self-defense, and court precedent indicates that the State has the heavy burden of disproving this in order to win a conviction.

    Florida’s statute on the use of force in self-defense is virtually identical to Section 1 of ALEC’s Castle Doctrine Act model legislation as posted on the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). According to CMD, the model bill was adopted by ALEC’s Civil Justice Task in August 2005 — just a few short months after it passed the Florida legislature — and approved by its board of directors the following month.

    Since the 2005 passage of Florida’s law, similar statutes have been passed in 16 other states. This was no accident. In a 2008 interview with NRA News, ALEC resident fellow Michael Hough explained how his organization works with the NRA to push similar legislation through its network of conservative state legislators:

  32. Van Jones Says NRA Wrote “Kill At Will” Law, But ALEC “Funneled The Corporate Cash To… clip #USRC


    It’s a dirty law designed to kill minorities & claim self defense

  34. ‏ @ColorOfChange:

    BREAKING NEWS: @CocaCola “has elected to discontinue its membership with #ALEC.” We respond:

    • PepsiCo Ends Partnership With Right-Wing Front Group ALEC

      PepsiCo, the world’s second largest beverage company, has ended its partnership with ALEC, the controversial right-wing group that lobbies for voter suppression efforts. Pepsi’s move, which actually came in January but was first reported this morning by NPR, may also have had a role in compelling Coca-Cola to drop its support for ALEC.

      Yesterday, progressive advocacy group Color of Change announced a boycott effort targeting several other corporations that are still members of the group, which for years has partnered with elected officials at a state level to draft and pass controversial, far-right legislation. Just a few hours later, Coke announced that they too are severing ties with the ALEC. As NPR reported today:

  35. Huffington Post

    WASHINGTON — Under pressure from the advocacy group ColorofChange, Kraft Foods Inc. said Thursday night it would end its support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative lobbying group that has backed state “Stand Your Ground” gun laws.

    In its statement, Kraft said that it will not renew its membership in ALEC when it expires this spring. The global food manufacturer said there were a “number of reasons” for the split, but did not specifically mention the advocacy campaign against ALEC.

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