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Gov. Candidates Respond to Stand Your Ground and Arrest of Clearwater Shooter

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A protestor holds a sign condemning Florida's Stand Your Ground law at a rally for shooting victim Trayvon Martin on the campus of the University of Minnesota in 2012.

A fatal shooting in Clearwater last month revived the debate over Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law after Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri cited the law as his reason for not charging the shooter, 48-year-old Michael Drejka.

Drejka, who is white, shot an unarmed black man, 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton, in a confrontation over a disabled parking spot.

The weeks after were filled with grassroots protests and a move for a special session dedicated to the law by Democrats in the state house and senate. The move failed, but it did not stop McGlockton's family and supporters from marching to the state capitol to demand the law be repealed last week.

Tallahassee mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum has been one of the loudest supporters of the movement. Gillum has called upon Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency that would halt Stand Your Ground until the law can be reformed or repealed.

During last week's final Republican gubernatorial debate, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam criticized his opponent, Trump-endorsed U.S. Representative Ron Desantis, for not standing behind Sheriff Gualtieri's decision that the shooting was a case of Stand Your Ground.

DeSantis replied, "I don't want some of these instances that really don't involve that to be put in and end up being fodder for criticism."

DeSantis, though, also mentioned the movement to repeal the law and his opposition to that.

"Democrats like Gillum and Green, they would impose upon Floridians a duty to retreat when they are being attacked. I think that that's totally unacceptable. I think that that puts the scales in favor of the criminal element."

On Monday, the state attorney's office answered the call to arrest Drejka, charging him with manslaughter.

A half hour after news broke, Gillum took to Twitter Monday to again ask the governor to call a state of emergency on Stand Your Ground and said, "I'm proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Markeis McGlockton's family so they get the justice they deserve." 

Rachel Iacovone is a reporter and associate producer of Gulf Coast Live for WGCU News. Rachel came to WGCU as an intern in 2016, during the presidential race. She went on to cover Florida Gulf Coast University students at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Capitol Hill and Southwest Floridians in attendance at the following day's Women's March on Washington.Rachel was first contacted by WGCU when she was managing editor of FGCU's student-run media group, Eagle News. She helped take Eagle News from a weekly newspaper to a daily online publication with TV and radio branches within two years, winning the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for Best Use of Multimedia in a cross-platform series she led for National Coming Out Day. She also won the Mark of Excellence Award for Feature Writing for her five-month coverage of an FGCU student's transition from male to female.As a WGCU reporter, she produced the first radio story in WGCU's Curious Gulf Coast project, which answered the question: Does SWFL Have More Cases of Pediatric Cancer?Rachel graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor's degree in journalism.