'Stand Your Ground': Are Blacks the target?
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 2/28/2013, 3:09 p.m.
A fatal shooting in November of another young, Black unarmed male at the hands of a white man not only has similarities to the Trayvon Martin case but is also raising the question, Is the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law allowing for open season on Black men?
The family of the late 17-year-old Jordan Davis buried the young man earlier this month. Reports indicate that the teen was confronted by 45-year-old Michael Dunn on Nov. 23 in Jacksonville, Fla. Davis and two other young men were in an SUV and Dunn confronted the group about their music being too loud.
During the argument, Dunn claims he saw a handgun emerge. In turn, he shot at least nine times at the group before running off. Three of the bullets hit Davis, killing him. Police are reporting that the young men were unarmed.
Dunn was arrested and charged with attempted murder and is in jail. His lawyers report they will use the Stand Your Ground law as a defense to justify the shooting. Dunn and his attorneys say that he felt threatened, leading him to shoot.
"We are going to miss him," Ron Davis, Jordan's father, told the media. "He was just like any other kid. Anyone out there who has children will understand why I want to get guns off the street. If you feel threatened, most people call 911. He never did that, as far as I'm told. He sprayed the car with bullets, knowing kids were in the car, drove to his hotel and had a good night's sleep."
Outcry followed, being that the case is similar to that of Martin's, another 17-year-old Black male who was unarmed and shot and killed by a man in Florida earlier this year.
Ron Davis continued, "Sometimes you see certain instances where it doesn't play out the way you'd like it to, but there's always a second justice. I don't want revenge. I absolutely don't want revenge. We realize there is a lot of speculation at this time. All the facts will come out at a later date. We want justice to be served."
The incident has placed the Stand Your Ground law back in the spotlight, along with concerns over whether the law carries any racial underpinnings.
"Just nine months after the death of Trayvon Martin, we are reminded how important it is to fight back against laws that enable a culture of senseless violence," said Rashad Robinson, executive director of the advocacy group Color of Change. "The numerous vigils and community reaction across Florida and the U.S. tell us that people are outraged, and our leaders need to listen."
According to a study by the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute, of the nearly 30 states that have Stand Your Ground laws, close to 35 percent of whites who shot a Black person who used the law as a defense did not face jail time or were not charged compared to 3 percent of Black shooters who received similar treatment after opening fire on a white person.
"Numerous experts have pointed out that these laws even go so far as to give individual gun owners a greater right to shoot and kill than the rules of engagement for our military during times of war grant soldiers in war zones. These laws must be reformed now to protect families and communities and prevent senseless death," said Robinson.