ATLANTA (AP/WAOK) – A civil rights activist is challenging Georgia’s controversial self-defense law in federal court.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins says he filed the lawsuit Monday in Atlanta  in response to the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old killed in February by a Florida neighborhood watch captain who has said he shot the unarmed black teen in self-defense.

The lawsuit claims Georgia’s law leads to the “unnecessary use of lethal force” that could endanger residents. Hutchins called the law “bad public policy.”

The Georgia Attorney General’s office declined comment.

Martin’s death has ignited racial tensions and stoked debate about so-called stand your ground laws in Florida, Georgia and 19 other states. The laws give people wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat during a fight.


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