Stand Your Ground laws focus of Valpo rally
By James D. Wolf Post-Tribune correspondent August 17, 2013 11:38PM
State Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) speaks Saturday at a Stand Your Ground law educational rally at Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso. | James D. Wolf~Post-Tribune
Updated: September 19, 2013 10:20AM
VALPARAISO — If state Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) had another chance to vote on Indian’s Stand Your Ground law, she would not vote for it again.
Tallian told the audience at a Stand Your Ground rally Saturday at the Porter County Courthouse that in 2006, “When we passed this law initially, there was no discussion about it.”
In light of recent incidents around the country, “We need to reevaluate this,” she said.
She voted for the law because she was persuaded by the arguments that it wouldn’t change Indiana law, based on a 1877 case law that allowed a similar defense.
“I don’t like that people have now twisted that” into a machismo of “you’re not going to make me move,” she said.
Tallian was one of a few local luminaries and religious leaders talked at or sent messages for the rally that resident Robert Cotton organized to discuss the law.
Cotton said he first wanted to have the rally after a case where an Indiana man stood off with police coming into his home, and then the George Zimmerman case involving Trayvon Martin happened in Florida.
He became concerned about what people knew about the law in Indiana.
When Cotton contacted law enforcement leaders such as Porter County Sheriff David Lain, Valparaiso Police Chief Michael Brickner and Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel all needed to review the law, he said.
About 50 people were at the rally, some passersby who became interested.
Tallian noted that Stand Your Ground laws take the Castle Defense, where a person can defend a home from invasion, and move it to a public place.
Valparaiso Law School Dean Ivan Bodensteiner said he believes the law added nothing to existing self defense laws except remove a condition.
It used to be “was there a way you could’ve escaped without escalating this into a very violent situation.”
The American Bar Association is currently reviewing Stand Your Ground laws and preliminary findings are that if the shooter is white and the target is black, 35 percent of cases are treated as justifiable homicide, but in the reverse, 3.5 percent are.
Via letter that Cotton read, Sheriff David Lain said most police officers don’t like the law’s language, especially with growing militias.
But Lain the law shouldn’t be discussed in regards to race.
Cotton asked people not to focus on the Zimmerman case, but audience questions often veered to it and race relations.
Two passersby did speak in favor of the law
One, who declined to give his name, asked the audience if the rally would happen if Zimmerman was black and Martin was white.
Another, identifying himself as a pastor from Kouts, said he was attacked in Gary by a man holding a knife to him and yelling racial epithets.
The pastor said he was able to run off, but if he’d remembered his gun, he would’ve used it