Michael Dunn, a bigger white male in his 40s, pulled up to a gas station and didn’t like the loud thug music that was coming from the car beside him. There were other open spots, not to mention numerous gas stations in Jacksonville, FL, but Dunn decided to confront these boys about their music. One boy, did not want to be?told?how to act. That boy was Jordan Davis. Soon after, Dunn pulled out a gun and fired 10 shots at the car filled with unarmed, black teens.
Dunn fled the scene, never called 911, went to a hotel, ordered a pizza, and fixed an alcoholic beverage. 3 shots hit Jordan Davis, killing him. Dunn imagined a gun that was unequivocally not there. Dunn said Jordan was coming at him when he shot him, which was unequivocally untrue. Every expert testified that with trajectory of bullets and Jordan’s wounds, he was sitting in the car, door closed, when shot and killed. Dunn claimed he told his girlfriend that he saw a weapon, but she testified that he definitely did NOT tell her of any such thing.
One would think the case against Dunn was simple: Murder. Sure, the differences between first degree and second degree murder can be confusing, but there would be at least a murder conviction. We were wrong. Dunn was found guilty of attempted 2nd degree murder because three other teens were in the car. There was a mistrial on the count of murdering Jordan Davis. Since no jurors have spoken yet about the case, we can only assume what happened in that jury room, and the questions they asked the court make me believe that as least one juror actually?believed?Dunn acted in self defense when he shot and killed Jordan.
How can this happen? Every legal expert, including Mark O’Mara, the famous defense lawyer for George Zimmerman, seemed to think Dunn would be found guilty and seemed shocked that he wasn’t. He believed the jury would be fighting over premeditation. Again though, considering the questions that were asked from them, like if justifiable deadly forced be used against one but not the others (paraphrasing), show that someone on that panel believed Dunn’s tale.
Dunn was not off the hook in killing Jordan Davis. Because no verdict was reached, the State of Florida will retry him with First Degree Murder. I am happy that justice could be served in the upcoming months for Jordan Davis and his family, but that is not enough. Jane Velez-Mitchell, a television host, said after the verdict that this was still a “license to kill”. This is true. Especially in Stand Your Ground states, someone can fabricate an entire story, say things that are utterly contradictory to actual evidence, have zero corroboration from witnesses, and?still?not be found guilty of killing our black brothers and sisters.
Racism is at play here. I was pleased to see the large amount of white people on social media who agree that Dunn is a racist and that Jordan’s murder was due to his perceived racist ideas about blacks and “thugs” and an entire culture. The prosecution failed to ask to have Dunn’s racially incendiary jail letters introduced as evidence. Letters that suggest Dunn thinks more people like Jordan Davis should be killed so that they will stop?acting that way.?Whatever “that way” means. He also rants about racial guilt and says the justice system is biased IN FAVOR OF blacks. That last point is laughable if not so tragically ill-informed.
Below is a chart showing likelihood of justifiable killings, with a racial breakdown. It is clear that white-on-black crime is?by a large margin?seen as more justifiable. Is this truly a coincidence? I do not think so. The United States government, the media, etc, have done a great job since our founding, to perpetuate the idea of the dangerous black male. Over time, darker skin color in general has been seen as threatening, violent, something that should cause us concern. Trayvon Martin was minding his business when Zimmerman approached him. Jordan Davis was minding his business when Dunn approached him and his friends. Renisha McBride and Jonathan Ferrell were seeking help when they were gunned down. All of these people of color (including one female) were seen as threatening, not belonging in the space that they occupied at the time of their killings; although there is little to no evidence to suggest that any of them were imminently threatening the life or great bodily harm of their killers (which are the bases for self defense claims). We need to accept this. As a country, we have not moved on. We are not post-racial. Implicit bias or explicit bias, the racial prejudices and fears many of us hold are harming our children and our people.
These hateful zealots ?are not just armed with dangerous perceptions, but with actual, loaded, guns. Somehow, their innate fear or hatred of blacks causes them to see?themselves?as victims.
Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman, for instance, were both obviously older than their victims, outweighed their victims, confronted their victims, had loaded guns, and still managed to feel scared? These stories seem inconceivable, yet enough jurors believed them to not convict. So yes, as a young person of color, I am afraid. Afraid that I, or someone in my family or circle of friends, will be wearing the wrong clothes, listening to the wrong music, or maybe even stupidly thinking they could ask a neighbor for help without being shot directly in the face. “The Talk” mothers and fathers are now having with their children of color after the Zimmerman and Dunn verdicts, is deeply saddening for our nation. We know that violence will always exist and murder will unfortunately always occur. But in that devastating event, we should be able to expect that the perpetrators will be found guilty of taking away our precious angels.
Today would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday. From all accounts, including his parents directly, Jordan was a good kid. He was friendly, popular, and always smiling. We celebrate him on this day, but we are aware of the trouble that still lies ahead. Stand Your Ground laws are still in place in over twenty states. There is still no guarantee Dunn will be found guilty of killing Jordan. The jury took over 30 hours to deliberate on Dunn’s case, which was so obviously murder. What does that tell us? I do not choose to live in fear, because I will not mentally be a victim to hatred and prejudice. But while my head tells me not to be afraid, at times like these, my heart tells me something different. And that is tragic.
Edited/Published by: SB