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Florida politicians react to Clearwater ‘Stand Your Ground’ arrest

Nearly a month after he fatally shot Markeis McGlocktonMichael Drejka was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Monday afternoon on charges of manslaughter.

Drejka, 47, last month started an argument with the 28-year-old McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, over her use of a handicapped spot in a convenience store parking lot. Upon exiting the store and noticing the argument, McGlockton rushed over and pushed Drejka to the ground.

Still on the ground, Dreika pulled a gun, fired, and killed McGlockton. Security camera footage from the convenience store appears to show McGlockton backing away from Drejka after he drew his weapon, but Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri chose not to arrest Drejka.

The sheriff, a law school grad, cited a 2017 change to the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law that required law enforcement to prove a shooter didn’t feel threatened before filing criminal charges.

That decision was met with uproar:

— McGlockton’s family demanded charges be filed,

— State Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, and Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon urged State Attorney Bernie McCabe to pursue the case,

— Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, as did the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas NAACP,

— Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum called on Gov. Rick Scott to suspend the law by executive order,

— Tampa Councilman Harry Cohen renewed his call for an outright repeal,

— National racial justice group Color of Change started a campaign to “Stop ‘Stand Your Ground’,”

— Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King delivered a fiery speech on the racial disparity in the use of “Stand Your Ground,” and

— Democratic lawmakers called for a Special Legislative Session, though the request failed along party lines.

Now that Drejka has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, numerous politicians — mostly Democrats — have released statements commenting on the length of time after the shooting, which took place July 19, whether the charges were strong enough, and reiterating their calls for a “Stand Your Ground” repeal.

Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw:

“This day is too long coming. Justice delayed is justice denied and we continue to seek justice for the McGlockton family and so many other families across this state. Stand Your Ground laws are wrong and have no place in a civilized society. Starting on day one as Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to force the legislature to repeal this terrible law. We look forward to Mr. Drejka receiving his day in court.”

King, an Orlando area businessman:

“The state attorney’s office is doing what Sheriff Gualtieri has failed to do thus far –– seeking justice for the death of Markeis McGlockton. This community is crying out for action and the McGlockton family deserves justice, and that’s why I’ve been calling for leaders to act since this tragedy occurred. Today’s decision is another example why Florida’s broken ‘stand your ground’ law must be repealed so that justice in this case and every other tragedy can never be delayed or denied.”

Fellow Democratic candidate for Governor, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham:

Gillum, currently the mayor of Tallahassee, repeated his call for Gov. Scott to suspend SYG:

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, also a Democratic candidate for Governor, said the family “deserves justice”:

The fifth Democratic candidate for Governor, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, said the following:

Neither of the two major Republicans running to replace Scott, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, commented on the arrest, nor did current Attorney General Pam Bondi or the two Republican candidates vying to succeed her, Pensacola state Rep. Frank White and former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it supported the decision.

Jones, who represents Broward County’s HD 101, acknowledged the arrest via twitter:

Tampa Attorney Karen Skyers, a Democratic candidate for House District 61:

“I applaud the decision by the State Attorney’s Office to charge Michael Drejka in the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton,” Skyers said.

“As an attorney and an advocate, failure to prosecute would have been yet another rubber stamp on the use of “Stand Your Ground” as a license to kill, a situation that tragically occurs far too often in Florida.

“And while I’m encouraged by today’s news, it could have just as easily gone the other way. So long as this terrible law remains on the books, the people of Florida – especially people of color – remain especially at risk whenever an aggressor is spoiling for a fight and the last man standing is the only living witness.

“This is why change is needed. And this is why I continue to pledge that the very first bill I will file as the Representative for House District 61 is a repeal of this dangerous law.”

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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