Jordan Davis: What We’ve Come to Expect

February 18, 2014 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From Colorlines:

Still, Michael Dunn’s murder case seemed cut and dry. A white man emptied his semi-automatic into a car full of black teens, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis—then fled the scene and didn’t turn himself in until the following morning. There are, of course, other details, but what happened following Dunn’s arrest speaks volumes to the profound racial preoccupations that the killer holds.

In his letters from jail, Dunn became obsessed with the idea that he was somehow the victim of a system that routinely discriminates against white men. He explained how he was becoming more prejudiced against black people in jail, and proposed killing black people as habit so that “they may take the hint and change their behavior.” Dunn’s letters illustrate that the idea that white men can and should be harsh disciplinarians—and that black people can and should surrender to that power. If black people object, they should be killed as examples, so that others will learn.

On the witness stand, Dunn took what many thought was the unusual position of lacking remorse for killing an unarmed child. He cried, instead, when he talked about his dog. But perhaps more telling are Dunn’s last words to Jordan Davis. He testified that he shouted, “You’re not going to kill me, you son of a bitch.” If Davis is the “son of a bitch,” then we are to understand that Davis mother, Lucia Kay McBath—who was in the courtroom, just a few feet away from her son’s killer—McBath is the “bitch” that Dunn is referring to. She is not a mother who lost the son she gave birth to. She is not a human being who deserves more respect than to be called a dog. She is simply an object of Dunn’s dehumanizing attack.

In the end, Dunn was found guilty not of murdering Jordan Davis, but of the attempted murders of Tevin Thompson, Leland Brunson and Tommie Stornes, who were in the SUV along with Davis the evening that Dunn killed him. We can speculate, then, that if all four youth had been killed, then Dunn may have walked a free man. His only mistake, perhaps, was that he didn’t kill enough black teens to get away with it. Dunn held that he was terrified because he had seen Davis holding a weapon—but that weapon never existed. By not finding Dunn guilty of murder, the jury could not unanimously conclude that one white man’s imagination was worth more than one black teen’s life.

Homicides soar in states with ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

September 17, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Gun Culture, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From Southern Studies:

Many of the 22 states that have enacted “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws — like the one at the center of the controversy over last year’s shooting death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of shooter George Zimmerman — have experienced a dramatic jump in the number of homicides, with African Americans disproportionately affected.

That’s the finding of a new report from the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition in collaboration with the National Urban League and VoteVets. It was issued Sept. 16, the day before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is scheduled to hold a hearing on the effect of such laws, which allow people to use deadly force in public places even if they can avoid the conflict by safely leaving the area.

The report, titled “Shoot First: ‘Stand Your Ground Laws and Their Effect on Violent Crime and the Criminal Justice System,” found that states with such laws have seen their “justifiable homicide” rate rise by an average of 53 percent in five years following their passage. Over the same period, states without such laws saw justifiable homicides fall by an average of 5 percent.

The increase was not simply the result of more homicides being classified as “justifiable” but of an overall rise in firearm-related and total homicides in Stand Your Ground states, the report found.

The jump in homicides deemed justifiable was particularly dramatic in some states, especially in the South. The average annual number of such killings rose by 54 percent in Texas, 83 percent in Georgia, 200 percent in Florida, and an eye-popping 725 percent in Kentucky.

Florida Will Hold Hearings On ‘Stand Your Ground’ This Fall

August 05, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Legislature, Imperialism, Military Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From ThinkProgress:

Will Weatherford, the Republican speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, revealed on Friday that the state’s legislature will hold hearings on its infamous “Stand Your Ground” laws sometime this fall. While the announcement came buried in one sentence of a defensive opinion piece published this past Thursday in the Tampa Tribune, Reuters nonetheless characterized it as “the biggest concession yet by the state’s Republican leaders to protesters’ demands for a top-to-bottom review of the law.”

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law came in for widespread public criticism after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman on murder and manslaughter charges for the killing. Some version of the law has been passed by legislatures in 22 states, and it’s been defended as a “human right” by the National Rifle Association — which helped draft and disseminate the laws along with the American Legislative Exchange Council. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Obama himself have said “Stand Your Ground” laws need to be re-examined in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.

Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, citing “Stand Your Ground” in their reasoning, and kicking off the initial round of protests over the case. But subsequent to his arrest, Zimmerman and his lawyer declined to raise the law as a defense, leading many commentators — including Weatherford in his op-ed — to characterize it as irrelevant. But “Stand Your Ground” was cited in the instructions given to the jury. And interviews with several jurors make it clear that, explicitly cited or not, “Stand Your Ground” now comprises part of the inescapable legal infrastructure Florida jurors must use when judging self-defense.

One Year Later: “We Are Still Trayvon Martin”

February 26, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Defense, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

Trayvon Martin’s mother: ‘Use this case as an example’

trayvon… on Friday, Fulton talked about the year since Trayvon’s death, from her “disbelief” about what happened to the role race might play in the case. When I asked Fulton what the last year has been like, a swirl of pain and resolve could be heard in her voice. While she is heartened by the outpouring of moral support, she is “sad” that she will not be seeing “my son graduate from high school, of seeing my son going to the prom, of seeing my son going to college, getting married, having kids.”

I would like to ensure that this does not happen to somebody else’s child. I want them to take this case and use this case as an example to stand up and try to prevent this from happening to anybody else. I wouldn’t want anybody to go through what I’ve gone through in the last year. …

It’s really difficult to try to process what happened in my mind to try to help, not only other children, but my other son. I would like to have some type of remedy to solve this, to try to prevent this from reoccurring. I believe that death is unavoidable but violent crimes are.

See also The Trayvon Martin Killing, One Year Later

Color of Change: Remembering Trayvon Martin

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CI: Standing Up to “Stand Your Ground”

December 05, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Corrupt Legislature, Criminal Defense, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Standing Up to “Stand Your Ground”
by nancy a heitzeg

A mere 9 months after Trayvon Martin, and here we are, mourning Jordan Davis, another 17 year old Florida teen shot down. This time “loud music” not “hoodies” was the proximate trigger, but the real reason, of course, irrational archtypical threat of The Criminal-Black-Man.

As Melissa Harris-Perry puts it, “No Country for Black Boys”.

Her Open Letter this week addresses the details and the larger concerns:

ALEC Scraps Voter ID and ‘Kill at Will’ Task Force

April 18, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Corrupt Legislature, Prison Industrial Complex, Voting Rights

From Colorlines:

No longer able to defend themselves on Voter ID and Kill at Will legislation they helped popularize — as much as they tried — American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is finally dropping both from their agenda, announcing today that they will focus on free market, anti-regulation policies. In a statement from Indiana state Rep. David Frizzell, also ALEC’s national chairman:

“Today we are redoubling our efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of our organization for decades. Fostering the exchange of pro-growth, solutions-oriented ideas is precisely why ALEC exists.

“To that end, our legislative board last week unanimously agreed to further our work on policies that will help spur innovation and competitiveness across the country.

“We are refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles, and have made changes internally to reflect this renewed focus.

“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy. The remaining budgetary and economic issues will be reassigned.

“While we recognize there are other critical, non-economic issues that are vitally important to millions of Americans, we believe we must concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans back to work.

“Our free-market, limited government, pro-growth policies are the reason ALEC enjoys the support of legislators on both sides of the aisle and in all 50 states. ALEC members are interested in solutions that put the American economy back on track. This is our mission, and it is what distinguishes us.”

Why Zimmerman Should Be Denied Bail

April 17, 2012 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

From BlackStarNews:

In State v. Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s bail application — his motion for bail is returnable on April 20, 2012 — should be denied.

It would be unthinkable for a Black person in Florida to seek bail after being charged with murder in the second degree for causing the death of a White person. This bail application would be routinely denied.

No lawful reason exists for any White person to be treated differently, under similar circumstances, than any Black person. For this reason alone, this bail application should be denied.

Movant, for this relief herein, must address this issue of racial disparity or the Court should allow leave of court for him to address this issue. The Court can take judicial notice of the judicial practices and patterns in Florida. The state of Florida should not deviate from the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Companies flee from backing ALEC, right-wing advocacy group

April 13, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Legislature, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, Voting Rights

From Institute for Southern Studies:

At least five major companies and one foundation have severed support for the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC — part of a growing national campaign that has linked the corporate advocacy group to voter ID laws and “Stand Your Ground” gun legislation highlighted in the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.

On April 10, Common Cause announced in a press release that “Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and Intuit confirmed last week that they’ve already withdrawn from ALEC. On Monday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that they will no longer be making grants to ALEC.”

Later the same day, McDonald’s also announced it was pulling support.

The defections could be a serious blow to ALEC, which since 1973 has pushed conservative legislation in state legislatures, often aimed at weakening or eliminating environmental and other regulations. In November 2011, a Florida Republican lawmaker forgot to remove ALEC’s mission statement from an anti-tax bill he introduced to the legislature, one of several recent episodes revealing ALEC’s pervasive influence.

Key to ALEC’s mission is its “public private partnership,” which, according to ALEC’s website, “provides the private sector with an unparalleled opportunity to have its voice heard, and its perspective appreciated, by the legislative members” of the groups, who are mostly Republican state lawmakers.

Twenty-three companies comprise ALEC’s “private enterprise board,” all of them political heavyweights. According to an analysis by Open, the 23 corporations have spent more than $400 million on federal lobbying between 2009 and 2011. The people and PACs associated with the ALEC companies also gave more than $25 million to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycle.