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An anti-war rally at City Hall, video of a man firing an AR-style rifle in downtown Orlando, and other news you may have missed

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New study says Florida's Black teens make up over 70 percent of all adolescent gun-related homicides since Stand Your Ground: Last month came the latest study of many to highlight "Stand Your Ground" laws' racial bias. Researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania found that since the NRA-backed laws debuted in 2005, teenage gun-related homicides in Florida (between 15-19 years of age, and not counting suicides) have jumped to 2.16 deaths per 100,000 teens, which is significantly up from 1.53 deaths for every 100,000 before that. While white teens also saw a bump in homicides after 2005, rising from 0.56 to 0.61 deaths for every 100,000, however, Black teens increased .97 per every 100,000 teens to 1.55. In other words, Black teens made up 63.5 percent of all adolescent firearm homicides before "Stand Your Ground" and 71.8 percent after the laws went into effect.

Macy's plans to close Sanford location in Seminole Towne Center: Macy's Inc. is closing the Sanford location in Seminole Towne Center. "The decision to close a store is always a difficult one, but Macy's is proud to have served the Sanford community over the past 25 years, and we look forward to continuing to do so at Macy's nearby stores," said Macy's in a statement published in the Orlando Business Journal.

Rally outside of Orlando City Hall says 'no more endless wars': Amid uncertainty and anxiety over Iranian-American conflicts, public officials and locals stood outside Orlando City Hall on the evening of Jan. 9, protesting against further violence or war. "It serves no purpose to perpetuate constant war and violence in that region," said Grayson Lanza, a local activist who organized the event. "We want diplomacy." Many also said they felt it was important to show resistance against leadership and lawmaking that has led to rising xenophobia.

New Orange County program aims to house homeless bats: Deforestation, overdevelopment and ignorance all threaten the well-being of Florida's bats, and one public official has made it her mission to advocate for our winged furry friends. Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla of District 5 recently secured funds to start a project to build bat houses across East Orange County. "Bats provide many benefits for managing the mosquito population and also serve as pollinators for the agriculturists in my district," said Bonilla, who partnered with Shari Blissett-Clark, president of the Florida Bat Conservancy, to launch the campaign.

Video shows a man firing an AR-style rifle on the street in downtown Orlando: Shocking video showed a 26-year-old man firing an AR-style rifle while walking on South Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando at 3 a.m. Jan. 9. The Orlando Police Department says the incident was prompted by a fight outside a nearby club. The man, identified as Ryan Sarjoo, claimed he was punched in an attempted robbery. He then went to his car to retrieve the rifle and a loaded handgun, and returned to the scene to fire a "warning shot" over the heads of his assailants. Witnesses called the police and took cell phone videos. When officers arrived, witnesses say Sarjoo had placed the rifle back in his car, but he was still armed with a cocked handgun in his pants when he was apprehended. He was arrested for openly carrying a firearm.

This story appears in the Jan. 15, 2020, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.

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