EDITORIAL: Stand Your Ground
2/19/2014, 3 p.m.
Once more, America is getting a taste of justice, Florida style.
Michael Dunn, annoyed by loud music being played by 17-year-old Jordan Davis, shot and killed him.
And in the aftermath, we have the weird situation of Dunn being found guilty of attempted murder for endangering the lives of three of the four occupants of a truck but escaping the more serious charge of first-degree murder.
A jury deliberated for several days, but was unable to agree on the murder charges.
The verdict has ignited more debate on street corners, in barbershops, homes and elsewhere as African Americans and decent people everywhere try to discern what it all means.
Once again, African Americans must confront the vagaries of a criminal justice system that is tilted in favor of one set of people at the deadly expense of another. As annoying as it might have been, Jordan Davis had the right to play his music as loud as he did without having to fear that someone would shoot and kill him. Dunn claims that fearing for his life, he pumped 10 bullets into the SUV. Police never found any evidence of the shotgun he claims he saw through a window. And Jordan was unarmed.
Even more chilling is the fact that Dunn left the scene, failed to call 911, ate dinner, tended to his dog and seemed unfazed that he had shot someone. The jury appeared to be sympathetic to Dunn’s line of reasoning. Their actions, by way of the verdict, seem to suggest that it’s OK for any white man to claim that he feared a young black male, kill or injury that person and then claim self-defense.
At least this time, we weren’t subjected to a defense strategy which killed a black child twice by dirtying and sullying his name in an attempt to justify the murder.
The problem as it stands is two-fold: what, if any, will be the response from those opposed to the Stand Your Ground law, and more saliently, what are black people willing to do to confront a system, which W.E.B. Du Bois famously noted “cannot fail those it was not built to protect.”
The cancer of racism continues to gnaw at America’s soul because the children of former slaveholders refuse to acknowledge the searing costs of slavery, and they remain unwilling to come to terms with the psychic and other damage, the tremendous toll racism and discrimination has had on everyone involved. This country will remain in a racial prison constructed of lies and half-truths until white people choose to be honest about the past and present.
They will stay in bondage until they stop pretending that discrimination and racism no longer exists. They will be trapped in a web of their own making until they come to terms with and embrace the reality that their deeply embedded fear and hatred of black people drives the actions of those like Dunn, George Zimmerman and all the others who have killed black children and adults.
In 1956 in Montgomery, Ala., black residents refused to board buses for 381 days to show their disgust for segregation and demonstrate their desire to rid themselves from that odious system. They walked, hitched rides, endured the inconvenience. But they won.
What are we prepared to do in Florida and in the places where we live? Are we ready to fight as if our lives depended on the outcome? Are we tired of sacrificing our children on the altar of racism and discrimination?
The new martyrs, Oscar Grant, Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell, Jordan Davis, and Carl and Garrick Hopkins, demand that we do more. Their blood is crying out for justice.