A White man who murdered an unarmed Black teenager in Florida was permitted to walk the streets for two months, with his gun. Meanwhile, a Black woman, the mother of three children was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Florida for firing a warning shot at her husband who beat and strangled her. How is that "equal justice under law?"
George Zimmerman is the White man who shot Trayvon Martin to death after stalking him while he claimed he was on a neighborhood watch patrol. Marissa Alexander is the Black woman who says she was defending herself when she fired a gun into a wall near Rico Gray, her ex-husband, who had had a history of physical abuse.
Martin is dead. Zimmerman was released on bail that was lower than the amount of money he had raised in an online "cookie jar," to support his defense.
Gray is very much alive, and free to abuse the next woman who falls into his web. The victim of the spousal abuse in this case is now facing 20 years in jail.
Alexander said that in August 2010, her ex-husband read messages on her cell phone, became enraged, strangled her and threatened her life. When Alexander broke free, she tried to run out of the house but couldn't get out of the garage; so she grabbed a gun from the garage and fired it into the air to attempt to scare Gray off.
No one was injured in that instance when Alexander attempted to "stand her ground," but her warning shot hit a wall near where his two children were standing. As such, she was charged and found guilty by a jury of three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, which carries a mandatory 20-year sentence.
Alexander said that Gray repeatedly punched and choked her over the previous year and she truly felt he could kill her. It happens all the time, men killing their wives, girlfriends, "baby mamas." Alexander's lawyers tried to protect her with Florida's "stand your ground" law that has been claimed by Zimmerman who did not fire a warning shot, but rather a fatal shot which took the life of an unarmed child.
"I believe when he threatened to kill me, that's what he was absolutely going to do," Alexander told CNN. "That's what he intended to do. Had I not discharged my weapon at that point, I would not be here."
A police dispatcher warned Zimmerman not to continue following Martin prior to the incident in which he took the young man's life. He stalked him like a hunter anyway, and eventually bagged his prey, claiming self-defense.
Alexander rejected a judge's plea bargain offer of a three-year sentence, opting instead for a jury trial. But the same "stand your ground" law that protected the man who took an innocent life did not sway the jury that found Alexander guilty in March. The jury was apparently swayed by the fact that Alexander ran out of the house, and then came back into the house because the garage door was locked. She testified she had left her keys inside. The jury said returning to the house was wrong for someone claiming her life was at risk and that she fired the gun in anger, rather than in self-defense.
Well, I join with civil rights activists and domestic abuse victim's advocates who say Alexander, who had no prior criminal record, was treated extra harshly because of her race, while Zimmerman got a pass for six weeks because he's White and because his father is a magistrate judge.
Ironically, the case was prosecuted by State Attorney Angela Corey, the same prosecutor who is handling the Martin-Zimmerman case.
After the sentencing, Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Corrine Brown confronted Corey in the hallway, accusing her of being overzealous, according to video from CNN affiliate WJXT. "There is no justification for 20 years," Brown told Corey during an exchange that was frequently interrupted by onlookers. "All the community was asking for was mercy and justice," Brown said. I agree.
The judge handed down the sentence after an emotional sentencing hearing during which Alexander's parents, her 11-year-old daughter and her pastor spoke on her behalf. Several people had to be escorted from the courtroom after breaking out singing and chanting about a lack of justice in the case, but the judge made a point to say that he had no choice under state law.
If there was any justice in the state of Florida, the governor would immediately issue a pardon, or at least commute Alexander's sentence.