Tag Archives: stand your ground

In Remembrance of the Death of Trayvon Martin: Statement from Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change

In Remembrance of the Death of Trayvon Martin: Statement from Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change

[New York, NY]  Two years ago today, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Sanford, FL, triggering public outcry over “Stand Your Ground” laws. Introduced as model legislation in 2004 by the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), Florida became the first state to pass an explicit “Stand Your Ground” law. Since 2004 similar bills have been passed in over 30 states. Until the Sanford tragedy that left Trayvon slain, ALEC and its model legislation remained grossly underreported.

Since the shooting, a groundswell of grassroots activism has not only shone a light onto what ALEC is but has turned the once elite legislative council into a pariah. Color of Change was instrumental in making this happen. The following is a statement issued this morning from Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color of Change.

“Two years ago on this day, Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood while walking home, and we are deeply saddened that Trayvon’s family did not receive the justice they deserved.

“Unfortunately, the abuses of the so-called ‘Stand Your Ground,’ or ‘Shoot First’ laws that shielded Trayvon’s killer George Zimmerman persist to this day. Florida’s Shoot First law was there to cloud the jury’s judgment in Michael Dunn’s trial for the murder of Jordan Davis, and he evaded a first-degree murder charge. If Jordan Davis had not been in a car, in a public place and with his friends as witnesses, Michael Dunn might be a completely free man today.

“Is it safe to assume that the next time an unarmed black teenager is gunned down, the killer will, too, be protected from a murder charge?

“Florida’s law was written by the gun industry lobby. Shoot First was designed not to benefit public safety, but to drive up gun purchases. Because of collaboration between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and corporate ‘bill mill’ the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Shoot First is now the law of the land in more than two dozen states throughout the nation.

“Florida is just one place among many others where travesties like this can and will occur. We should be watching the upcoming trial of Theodore Wafer, the admitted killer of Renisha McBride. That’s why thousands of ColorOfChange members around the country have raised their voices against these dangerous laws and the forces that created them. We will continue to see repeated tragedies like these until we put an end to Shoot First and hold those accountable that support these laws hoping to spread them.

“Today we urge Americans everywhere to take the time to commemorate Trayvon by supporting the movement to end Shoot First and working to change the dehumanizing portrayals of Black people we see in the media everyday. We ask our elected leaders to take a stand and repeal Shoot First laws so tragedies like this don’t happen again.”

With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization. For additional information or to schedule an interview with Rashad Robinson contact media@colorofchange.org


Standing on Shaky Ground: Activists Pressure Hedge Funds to Purge Gun Stocks

Standing on Shaky Ground: Activists Pressure Hedge Funds to Purge Gun Stocks

New York, NY — On March 18th, 2013 The Sparrow Project published a detailed and scathing report naming and shaming two hedge funds, Owl Creek Asset Management and Impala Asset Management, for purchasing large volumes of gun stocks immediately following the December 14, 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Murmurations on Wall Street and Owl Creek’s and Impala’s own 4Q filings to the SEC [HERE & HERE] indicated that both companies sought to capitalize off of the Nation’s grief and subsequent fears of new gun regulations in the wake of the massacre.  Today The Sparrow Project is pleased to announce that only days after publishing our March 18th report and call to action, Owl Creek Asset Management and Impala Asset Management sold all of their gun holdings [1Q 2013, HERE & HERE].  The two companies holdings were valued at over $40 million dollars.

While it is important to acknowledge that gun industries will continue to operate so long as there is a demand for their product, it is also important to realize that major institutional investors like Owl Creek and Impala provide the gun companies they invest in the cash on hand they need to refill shelves, (shelves being rushed by the artificial demand of American buyers fearful that they will lose their ability to buy an assault rifle). Institutional investments like these allow the manufacturers to continue to grow exponentially and practices like “activist investing” by hedge funds can help to further stoke the already synthetic demand.

“Owl Creek and Impala represent some of capitalism’s ugliest actors,” said Andy Stepanian, co-founder of The Sparrow Project. “At no point was this effort a snub at our second amendment privileges, quite the contrary, it was about rooting out parasites like Owl Creek and Impala who saw 20 dead school children in Connecticut as an opportunity for profit and holding those bastards accountable.”

» Impala Asset Management

§ Sold 346,252 shares of Smith & Wesson (SWHC) & 547,686 shares of Sturm Ruger (RGR), valued at over $27 million

» Owl Creek Asset Management

§ Sold 1,616,300 shares of Smith & Wesson (SWHC), valued at over $13 million

This sale, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Owl Creek Asset Management and Impala Asset management have been joined by 6 other hedge funds who, too, have sold all of their gun holdings during the 1st Quarter of 2013. The six firms, AFG Investments Inc., Tiger Global Management, Valinor Management, LLC, Citadel Investment Group, Highside Capital Management, and Coghill Capital Management shed all of their stake in Sturm Ruger and bullet manufacturer Olin Corp. The sum of these sales was valued at around $117 million.

» AGF Investments Inc.

§ Sold 956,250 shares of Sturm Ruger stock (RGR) , valued at over $43 million

» Tiger Global Management

§ Sold 800,000 shares of Sturm Ruger stock (RGR) , valued at over $36 million

» Valinor Management, LLC

§ Sold 270,179 shares of Sturm Ruger stock (RGR) , valued at $12 million

» Citadel Investment Group

§ Sold 98,617 shares of Sturm Ruger (RGR) & 137,097 of Olin Corp (OLN), valued at over $11 million

» Highside Capital Management

§ Sold 251,807 shares of Sturm Ruger stock (RGR) , valued at over $11 million

» Coghill Capital Management

§ Sold 86,000 shares of Sturm Ruger stock (RGR), valued at $4 million

New York City Public Advocate and Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has led the charge against some of Wall Street’s most parasitic actors in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre through his “Wall Street for Change” campaign targeting money managers and hedge funds with ties to gun manufacturers.

“We weren’t going to let business-as-usual stand after Newtown. We put investors who were quietly propping up the gun lobby on notice, and we’ve proven that public pressure can be a game-changer,” said de Blasio. “This is by no means over. The NRA used its money and political influence to distort the debate in Washington. We need to break its stranglehold on the legislative process by continuing to bring pressure on its biggest financial backers.”

In addition to the 8 hedge funds mentioned above, de Blasio’s efforts have led 14 other firms to significantly reduce their gun holdings. A complete listing is available at the campaign website WallStreetforChange.com

Stepanian provided a peek into where this style of campaigning may go next, “from the parameters set upon weapons themselves, to designer statutes like Florida’s ‘Shoot First’ law that emboldened Trayvon Martin’s killer, by tracking the financial and logistical pillars of support we can begin to undermine the influence of once steadfast corporations and lawmakers. It would be nice to see the American Legislative Exchange Council, authors of the ‘Stand Your Ground‘ model legislation, left with a shaky footing because of tactics like these.”