When a particular race, alongside a particular cultural choice – dress sense/music taste – is portrayed so negatively through media, laws like ‘Stand your Ground’ cannot be fair and balanced and will always work to the disadvantage of that particular race. All the law does, is give credit to unfair stereotypes.
In 2012, 17-year-old African American teenager Jordan Russell Davis, pulled into a gas station with a group of friends. As typical teenagers, the boys had their music played loudly in the car that day. Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white male, and in his car alongside the boys, took exception to this and told them to turn their music down. An argument ensued. Dunn pulled out a gun, fired around 8 shots at the car full of teenagers, and killed Jordan Davis. Dunn claims the boys got out of their cars, and pulled a gun. Witnesses say that didn’t happen at all, and in fact, only Dunn got out of his car. No gun was found in the car of the teenagers, or on any of the teenagers when the police arrived. Dunn’s defence team have invoked Florida’s ‘Stand your Ground’ law, claiming that by opening fire on a car full of teenagers, killing Davis, Dunn was acting:
“…responsibly and in self defense.”
You’re going to have to forgive me for repeating myself a little, from yesterday’s post on Trayvon Martin and racism in 21st Century USA. I wanted to expand on ‘Stand your Ground’ laws, which requires cross over from a previous post.
A Federal lawsuit in Georgia in 2012 required Georgia strike down its ‘Stand your Ground’ law, because it didn’t specify what circumstances justified “standing your ground”. According to the lawsuit, courts in Georgia had:
“…accepted the race of a victim as evidence to establish the reasonableness of an individual’s fear in cases of justifiable homicide.”
– What this essentially means is, “I shot him, because I was scared, because he was black“. Whilst ‘Stand your Ground’ applies to both black, and white people, it disproportionately affects African Americans, due almost entirely to preconceptions stirred up by media outlets. The perception, the socially conditioned perception of young African American men, as somehow violent, is reflected in Michael Dunn’s claim that he shot Jordan Russell, because he was worried the boys might be in a gang. This isn’t reasonable, by anyone’s standards. Racial ignorance cannot possible be a defence.
The Tampa Bay Times found that around one third of those citing ‘Stand your Ground’ in cases in Florida, had actually started the confrontation that led to the violence. They also found that of those cases involving the death of an African American person, the defendant went free 73% of the time.
Stand your Ground laws were lobbied heavily on by the National Rifle Association. The NRA boasts as a board member Ted Nugent. Nugent – who, Republican Rep Steve Stockman called a true ‘Patriot’ – once said:
“Working Hard, Playing Hard, White Motherfucking Shit Kickers Who Are Independent.”
“I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.”
“There’s a lot of white people in this crowd. I like that.”
The link between the NRA, Stand your Ground law lobbying, and racism is not at all ambiguous or subtle. It is quite obvious. In 2007, an NRA, typically delirious brochure entitled: “Freedom In Peril; Guarding the 2nd Amendment in the 21st Century” in which African Americans are portrayed as violent trying to destroy white America was leaked. A picture depicting ‘street gangs’ shows African American, and Latin Americans, in hoodies, and bandanas. Perpetuating a stereotype. Cut to 2013, and an African American teenager armed with nothing but a packet of skittles, is murdered by a racist with a gun, citing “Stand your Ground” laws to protect him. “Stand your Ground” laws rely on the perpetuation of negative stereotypes, which then make it far easier to transfer the blame from a racist with a gun, profiling an innocent man… to the innocent man, because he doesn’t conform to a dress code, and a skin colour, that is deemed ‘acceptable’ by the NRA and its racist board members. Suddenly, ‘reasonable self defence’ becomes ‘it’s reasonable to shoot him, because he’s black and in a hoody, and The Wire once showed a black guy in a hoody killing someone’.
It’s doesn’t take too much consideration, to draw a direct link between a racist National Rifle Association lobbying for a particular law, and that law leading to the horrendous deaths of young, innocent African Americans.
Section 1 of the ALEC version of Florida’s ‘Stand your Ground’ law states:
“The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful act was occurring or had occurred, they are immune from prosecution or civil action from acting in defense of the themselves and others.”
– In Trayvon Martin’s case, simply being black, was enough for George Zimmerman to have ‘reason to believe’ the teenager was going to commit a crime. However, this apparently doesn’t apply to Trayvon himself, who surely acted in self defence when noting that he was being stalked, by a racist with a loaded gun. Surely he had the right to act in self defence too? Surely the aggressor, is the person who initiates the stalk, with a gun, of an unarmed, innocent kid? The law, in Florida favoured the murderer. And this seems to be a trend.
A study, by John Roman, at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, found that in States without ‘Stand your Ground’, a white person is likely to be found more justified in killing an African American 250% more, than a white person killing another white person (this is horrendous enough). But even worse, in ‘Stand your Ground’ States that number shoots up to 354%.
A further study at Texas A&M University found that States with ‘Stand your Ground’ laws have on average an 8% increase in homicides, after passing the laws. Around 600 extra homicides than before the laws were passed. The Study concluded:
“the results indicate that a primary consequence of strengthening self-defense law is increased homicide.”
– As well as being racist, ‘Stand your Ground’ laws encourage violence and murder.
Florida, Georgia and States with ‘Stand your Ground’ laws have got to a stage in their history, where the colour of someone’s skin, the music they listen to, or the clothes they choose to wear, is processed as reasonable justification to murder someone, completely irrespective of the persons behaviour.
Richard Nixon: Disgraced, shamed, had to quit, only pardoned because of his friends in high places. White. Republican.
George W Bush: Disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, alleged to have done cocaine. White. Republican.
California State Republican Rita Lavelle: Convicted of perjury. paid a $10,000 fine, and was place on probation for five years. White. Republican.
Reagan’s National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane was imprisoned in 1990 and fined $20,000 for his part in the Iran-Contra affair in ’86. White. Republican.
President Reagan’s Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, Michael Deaver was convicted in 1987 of committing perjury in statements submitted to a Congressional subcommittee and then grand jury. White. Republican.
Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Deborah Gore Dean was convicted by jury of accepting an illegal gratuity, on three counts of trying to defraud the Federal Government. White. Republican.
Paul McKinley, recently won the Republican primary to represent 2nd Congressional District. Served almost 20 years behind bars for armed robberies, aggravated battery, and burglaries. White. Republican.
John Poindexter, another National Security Advisor, was convicted in 1990 on five charges of lying to Congress by obstructing Congressional investigations into Iran-Contra. White. Republican.
Darrell Isa. U.S. Representative for California’s 49th congressional district. Twice arrested on weapons charges, pleading guilty to a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm. Arrested on suspicion of car theft.
Maybe we should all start profiling anyone who looks like they might have ever voted Republican? Perhaps we should start following every white Republican, recording every last word they say, in case we catch them lying, or about to commit a felony? Perhaps we should all assume, until they prove otherwise, that Republicans are guilty of lying to Congess, driving under the influence, selling arms to bad guys, and committing armed robberies? Stalk a white Republican today.
In a wholly white privileged, patriarchal system; the black kid being stalked is to blame. The woman who was raped is to blame. The person in poverty is to blame.
‘Stand your Ground’ simply means ‘Fear of black men’.