If you haven’t heard. Michael Dunn was convicted of four counts: three counts attempted murder and one count of firing into a vehicle. However, the jury failed to reach a decision about first degree murder. The most important verdict of all.
Michael Dunn (47) was on trial for killing Jordan Davis, an African American teenager, over loud rap music. Jordan was 17. He died in Florida, November 23, 2012.
The case was quite clear cut: Dunn and his lawyers did not dispute that he killed Davis. Eyewitnesses (and fellow victims) also confirmed the confrontation. Dunn did not dispute that he fired his weapon at the SUV ten times. He did not dispute that Davis was shot three times while inside the vehicle. However, Dunn claimed he fired in self defense. He claimed that he feared for his life, and that Davis and his friends had a gun and were about to kill him.
There was no weapon found in the SUV. Dunn and his lawyer, Cory Strolla, claimed the kids got rid of it in the three minutes they fled from a vicious wave of bullets. They then returned to the scene to call police.
The jury returned the verdict after 30 hours deliberation. The jury was composed of four white men, four white women, two Black woman, an Asian woman, and a Hispanic man. Looks like all of the bases were covered.
Some were watching the case closely, given its similarity to the Trayvon Martin murder. Some were hoping that justice would finally be served.
Has justice been served? Dunn will receive a lengthy prison sentence, and he will forever carry the burdensome stigma of being a violent murderer.
But the major charge of first degree murder deals explicitly with Jordan Davis’ fate. There is anger for those of us who empathized with Jordan Davis and his family.
Jordan Davis is another unnecessary victim in 21st century race relations. Today, it is no longer acceptable to kill people of color with purely racist motives. Instead, some Black teens are killed due to preconceived notions about their racial appearance. Blacks dressed in a certain way, or listening to a certain genre of music, are immediately viewed as threatening and violent. This leads people to react, some reactions being more deadly than others.
Laws can no longer sanction race-based murders, so instead, they are rewritten to shield the grim nature of subconsciously racist reactions. The laws look like “stand-your-ground” and are marketed as “self-defense.”
However, the new age of thinkers, activists, and lawyers are better able to explicate these laws, reveal their real intent, and dismantle them through appropriate means. It’s an uphill and expensive battle, but there are many compelling victories that constantly renew our resolve to fight for social justice.
Given that we are mostly young adults savvy with technology, we promote many of our causes through social media and gain publicity at relatively low-cost. Lawyers are more inventive in how they analyze and articulate cases, and public opinion is generally swayed towards effective racial justice.
We are a formidable force, and the powers that wish to continue racially insensitive legislation have to compromise with us.
This is what we’ll now call The 4/5ths Rule. It’s basically the narrowest compromise meant to keep us content. It’s manifested in the acquiesces of police when they finally charged George Zimmerman with murder after months of protest and bad press. And tonight, it transcended into 4 out of 5 guilty verdicts.
In the battle for racial justice, we are given crumbs on the table. We are given band-aids meant to temporarily conceal deep-set wounds in our collective cultural conscious. These compromises are attempts to mollify outrage. For example, when SNL finally caved in and hired Sasheer Zamata, the first African American actress to appear on the show in over 5 years.
Prosecution announced that they will retry Dunn on the most heinous charge. It’ll be difficult considering that premeditation is a hard aspect to prove. Yet, many are urging prosecution to start from square one.
There is anger. But not enough. However, more and more people are gaining interest in the story. And especially after this miscarriage of justice, more attention and compassion will circulate.
Or maybe this is The 4/5ths Rule at work. Maybe the long prison sentence (60 year minimum) is part of the give-and-take.
Who knows what this mistrial will later turn in to. All I know is that I still feel like Jordan Davis (and African Americans at large) has been wronged. Does this verdict incentivize people to go all the way and completely murder if they feel threatened by those unknown to them? Does this verdict send the message that first degree murder is excusable, but attempted murder is harder to cover up? This verdict confuses me, and honestly, terrifies me. Who knows how many other young Black men have to die at the hands of trigger happy fools with no self-control or self-restraint?
If you feel how I feel, please sign this petition: Justice for Jordan Davis.