Things That Matter

Parkland Officer Arrested And Fired For Hiding While Students Were Killed At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Reinstated

Update May 14, 2020, 4:45 p.m. PST: The world changed on Feb. 14, 2018. Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students, teachers, and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an assault rifle. On-duty resource officer Scot Peterson was on campus and hid while the gunfire rang out. Two years after the incident he has been jailed, tried in court, and, now, reinstated to his old job.

Parkland officer Scot Peterson has been reinstated to his job with full back pay.

Peterson was the on-duty resource officer when Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He was fired because of his inaction that allowed for the shooter’s rampage to go unimpeded. Peterson was charged with neglecting his duties as he hid behind his car while Cruz terrorized and killed people in the high school.

Peterson is getting his job back, with full back pay, on a technicality.

Broward Sheriff’s Union announced that the disgraced officer was getting his job back during a press conference. Peterson was fired on June 4, 2019, because of his inaction on Feb. 14, 2018. According to the union, the sheriff’s office violated a clause about notifying Peterson within 180 of his being fired. The union argues that the firing happened 2 days after the 180 days had passed. As a result, Peterson will be reinstated to the police department with full back pay and his seniority intact.

“He was a coward,” Max Schachter, whose son Alex died during the shooting, told WPLG. “He certainly does not deserve to get his job back, and I hope that the judge that this ruling can be overturned and changed.”

Sergeant Brian Miller, another officer fired for his lack of action that day, remains terminated from the police force.

Original: Scot Peterson, 56, was the on-duty resource officer on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus on Feb., 14, 2018. That was the day that Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people in the school while Peterson remained outside never confronting the shooter. He is now in jail facing charges connected to his lack of response during the shooting, including charges of child neglect.

Scot Peterson was the on-duty armed guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when 17 people were shot and killed.

According to reports, former Broward Deputy Peterson has been charged with 11 felonies because of his inaction during the shooting. Peterson, who is facing charges including child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury, has long been criticized for hiding during the shooting. While 17 people were killed, Peterson can be seen on camera standing outside of the building and hiding from the shooter for 50 minutes.

The charge for perjury was added because Peterson, under oath, denied hearing gunshots when he first arrives at the building where the shooting occurred.

Credit: @PollackHunter / Instagram

According to The New York Times, one student, Arman Borghei, said he looked out of a window and saw Peterson outside building 1200 where the shooting took place. Peterson allegedly had his gun drawn but was frozen in place doing nothing to locate and confront the shooter.

News of his arrest and charges has been met with celebration from people on social media.

Credit: @ravireport / Twitter

“We cannot fulfill our commitment to always protect the security and safety of our Broward County community without doing a thorough assessment of what went wrong that day,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement about terminating Peterson.  “I am committed to addressing deficiencies and improving the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”

People are also so over other people trying to give the former deputy a way out of the responsibility.

Credit: @chrisrowFL / Twitter

We have seen recent examples of unarmed people taking down gunmen to save fellow classmates and coworkers. Peterson was the armed guard on campus and some people argue that his lack of action led to a higher death toll that Valentine’s Day.

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are joining the online discussion to give people a face to attach to the tragedy.

Many of the students and their supporters are happy with Peterson being arrested for negligence allowing people to die. Families and friends who lost loved ones in the shooting at the Florida high school are waiting to see if the trial will unfold in their favor or not.

Check back with mitú as we cover the developments of this story.

READ: After Two Parkland Students Commit Suicide, Community Unites To Share Mental Health Resources

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The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

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The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Florida already has one of the nation’s most far-reaching “Stand Your Ground” laws but the state’s governor wants to take it a step further: allow people to shoot looters and anyone suspected of rioting or being part of a mob.

DeSantis says the move is in response to an increase in crime across the state and to the ongoing nationwide protests that have resulted in occasional property damage and violence.

However, most experts agree that laws like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law should be weakens or eliminated, since evidence shows that these laws can actually lead to an increase in violence and homicides.

Florida’s governor wants to expand the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican) is looking to amend the state’s “stand your ground” law, to make it one of the nation’s broadest. His amendments to the legislation are part of his “anti-mob” legislation, which are supposed to target people accused of illegal acts during riots and looting.

But critics rightfully worry that expanding the already dangerous law, would empower people to use violence and deadly force during chaotic and tense confrontations at protests.

The timing is also suspicious, considering the move is coming as part of an aggressive agenda following months of large-scale racial justice protests across the country.

Under Florida’s current law “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if … he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

DeSantis wants to expand this law to include “criminal mischief that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; arson that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; and any other felony.”

Democrats are already pushing back strongly against the proposed amendment.

Credit: Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Legislators, attorneys and others call DeSantis’ proposal “racist,” “dangerous” and “extreme.”

In a recent Miami Herald article, Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County County prosecutor who had handled “Stand Your Ground” cases said, “It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions.. It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

In the same article, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, said the governor’s draft bill “sounds like an invitation to incite violence.”

The law gained national attention following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Credit: Ted Soqui / Getty Images

In 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed by a man who claimed the “Stand Your Ground” defense and his story shocked the country. The 17-year-old teen was unarmed and chased by George Zimmerman which resulted in a physical altercation.

Although Martin was unarmed and not guilty of any crime – he was returning home from a quick walk to a convenience store – his killer was found not guilty thanks to the state’s strong “Stand Your Ground” law.

So-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are becoming more common across the country.

Nearly three dozen states are “stand your ground” states, including 27 which have explicit laws saying so. They have been expanded over the past ten years as more states follow Florida’s lead.

A 2018 RAND Corporation review of existing research concluded that “there is moderate evidence that stand-your-ground laws may increase homicide rates and limited evidence that the laws increase firearm homicides in particular.” In 2019, RAND authors indicated additional evidence had appeared to reinforce their conclusions.

And although Florida’s legislature remains firmly in Republican control following this year’s election, it’s unclear whether DeSantis will find a sponsor for his proposed amendments.

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Cuban Asylum Seekers Stranded In Mexico Are Upset That Cuban-Americans Overwhelmingly Voted For Trump in Florida

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Cuban Asylum Seekers Stranded In Mexico Are Upset That Cuban-Americans Overwhelmingly Voted For Trump in Florida

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Cuban migrants who are stranded in Mexico are reportedly upset that Cuban-Americans in Florida overwhelmingly voted for Trump, according to reports. 

Reuters interviewed several Cuban migrants who are stuck in Mexico due to the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies.

Many of the Cuban migrants were planning on claiming asylum in the United States due to the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies, they are forced to wait out the process in Mexico. Some have been there for months. 

Although many of the Cubans in Mexico understand Trump’s appeal to Cuban-Americans (i.e. anti-socialist, pro-capitalism), they nonetheless wish that their compatriots would look at the bigger picture when it comes to immigration reform. “They’re only thinking about the benefits for themselves if Trump wins, and nothing else,” said one Cuban asylum seeker, a doctor named Dairon Elisondo, to Reuters.

According to NBC News, 55% of Cuban-Americans in Florida cast their vote for incumbent Donald Trump as president.

They effectively helping the state–which was considered a potential swing state–turn red. One asylum-seeker whom Reuters interviewed claimed that he was betrayed by his own family member when his brother-in-law in Florida voted for Donald Trump.

“Imagine it! I’m a part of his family!” said Jose Manuel Maranillo. “I feel terrible he voted for Trump because we’re stuck here in Juarez hoping for Biden to win so he can help us and Latinos in the United States too.”

One of the Cuban asylum-seekers, Yuri Gonzalez, pointed out that Cubans who arrived in the United States before Trump was elected had a different experience when it came to seeking asylum. “Many of them [in Florida] arrived to the United States on planes with visas,” said Gonzalez. “They didn’t cross borders or endure any of the difficult experiences I’ve had to.”

Reuters asked Denise Galvez, a Cuban-American living in Florida who co-founded the group Latinas for Trump, what she thought of the Cuban migrants in Mexico who are disappointed in Florida going red.

Galvez said that immigration was “far from a top voting issue” for her and many other Cuban-Americans.

Another Cuban-American residing in Florida, Maria Romero, said she supports Trump for his hardline stance against Havana, but she also sympathizes with the asylum-seekers stuck in limbo. “I’m Cuban, so I don’t want [Trump] to be kicking other Cubans in the head,” she said. But unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what he’s doing.

Since President Trump was elected to office in 2016, the policies towards asylum seekers has become incredibly strict, even enacting an “asylum ban” in 2018. The ban was later struck down by an appeals court in 2020. But still, seeking asylum in the U.S. as a migrant is harder than ever.

When former Vice President Joe Biden was officially projected to be the next President of the United States on Saturday, the Cuban asylum-seekers stuck in Mexico were reportedly overjoyed. Cheers and chanting erupted in the refugee camp when the news was announced. The words “Bye Trump” were spelled out in balloon letters.

“We’re all going to celebrate today! Everyone is so happy,” Elisondo told Reuters after the announcement. “After so much darkness the light may arrive.”

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