Florida is no place for black teenage boys to grow old.
Jordan Russell Davis would have turned 19 Sunday.
Trayvon Benjamin Martin would have turned 19 on Feb. 5.
Both were dead at 17, their shared experience an eternally stopped clock and an eerily magical black-numbered age.
That, and the fact that their names will be elevated as strange and strained metaphors for the easily erasable nature of young black lives in the southernmost state in the Union.
In fairly short order two black families have found this out the hard way by identifying their sons in cold basement morgues, by sitting stoically through racially charged court proceedings while lawyers pretend race was a non-issue and by speaking through streaked tears in the glare of countless press conferences on courthouse steps.
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” statutes are increasingly tantamount to permission to murder The Other under the guise of feeling “threatened” by the mere presence of the young, black male body.
Many of us are still reeling from the verdict — the freedom — of George Zimmerman after he fatally shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012, and was acquitted on July 13, 2013, of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
And here we moan again.
The night before Jordan Davis would’ve been geeked to celebrate with his friends his 19th birthday, another Florida jury got it wrong, sending yet another thinly veiled message to us — black us, mostly — that we’re not worthy of the ultimate justice: imprisoning a (white man’s) life for the taking of a (black boy’s) life.
Michael Dunn, the middle-aged white man who admitted to being pissed off and angered on a Friday night in November, 2012, by the loud music coming from Davis’ car and who admitted to firing multiple times — eight or nine times — at the car in a Jacksonville, Fla., convenience store parking lot, got a mistrial verdict on the charge of first-degree murder of then-17-year-old Davis.
Dunn, however, will spend 20 to 60 years in prison for at least three counts of attempted murder, presumably for firing shots that could’ve killed the other people in the car.
Dunn had argued with Davis and his friends parked on the other side of the gas pump about their loud music, and the survivors admitted their music had been loud.
Dunn opened fire because he said someone in the car pointed a shotgun at him, but police never found firearms in Davis’ car.
Dunn and his girlfriend left the scene and hid out in a motel where he saw news of Davis’ death on television.
An alert for his whereabouts was issued; a witness wrote down his plate number.
Dunn didn’t turn himself in.
He was found and arrested.
There is so much that is wrong with this entire scenario I almost do not know where to begin or where to land an ending.
First and foremost, is it worth the possibly violent outcome to try to control a stranger’s environment that is only temporarily affecting yours, in this case, demanding a kid turn down his music?
Secondly, this convoluted verdict, along with the Zimmerman verdict, is table scraps.
The glaring difference, however, between these two cases is that the Trayvon Martin shooting was fraught by police apathy and inactivity.
Dunn’s verdict nevertheless says, “Here’s something to stave a race riot but the life that was taken isn’t worth doing time.”
The Zimmerman verdict was like a gateway drug, a soft opening for more sickness to seep in.
What’s also troubling about the precedence set by the Zimmerman verdict is that this wacky Florida law is letting loose white male pathology that remains unchecked and that hasn’t been witnessed in this country since the Ku Klux Klan formed and lynched black folks with impunity, striking fear and subservience in the hearts and minds of Negroes who even thought about acting like they had inalienable rights.
We have seen time and again what getting away with murder has done to Zimmerman. He is clearly an unhinged and violent man who’s now showing signs of addiction to infamy.
Dunn, 45, for his part, is an angry and frightened racist, but the good kind — the kind who doesn’t know any better than to run his mouth about his hatred for The Other.
He even stupidly documented it.
In a letter written to his grandmother while he sat in jail awaiting his trial and excerpted in the Oct. 18 edition of Huffington Post, he wrote, “The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”
Dunn went on to rant about his bad treatment by the liberal media with its “racial guilt” and that the other “black thugs” in the car lied about what happened the night of the shooting to cover their “true colors.” Later, he was mostly anxious about getting even one black juror on his jury, certain that black person would cause a mistrial.
This is definitely no “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” However, even if Dunn isn’t referring to blacks, black teenagers or black teenage boys in his use of these/they’re/they/their, his wanton ability to kill so easily is worth examining by some higher court or legal scholar for use in tamping down this “Stand Your Ground” law.
Barring a complete removal of the laws from the books, if we don’t start at least writing into these types of laws ways that will make it nearly impossible for men like Zimmerman and Dunn to use them as a means of easy-breezy criminal self defense then the ground these self-appointed armed militia men stand on will be soaked through, mushy with the blood of black teenagers.
Blood is slippery when it’s wet.
Blood is nearly black when it’s dry.
CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: firstname.lastname@example.org