“Refusing to call it murder”
By Pastor Rasheed Z Baaith
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders…false witness…” (Matthew 15:19)
In November 2012, Jordan Davis was shot and killed by Michael Dunn. Jordan Davis was a young, Black teen-aged male; Michael Dunn is a middle aged white man. While their age difference is significant, what is more telling is the fact of their ethnicities.
Dunn said he killed Davis and attempted to kill those with him because of fear of being killed himself. Davis, et al were armed with loud “thug music” as Dunn called it. Dunn yelled at the teens to turn the music down, an argument ensued and Dunn killed Davis by shooting at the car Davis was in 10 times. Nine bullets hit the car, three of those bullets hit 17-year-old Davis. He died as a result of the bullets damaging his liver, aorta and lung.
So Dunn did what White men in Florida have been encouraged to do after having killed a Black teenaged male, he invoked Florida’s Stand Your Ground defense. Dunn also claimed Davis pointed a gun at him. No gun or anything that resembled one was ever found. He went to trial with that utilization and as most of us know by now, he was found guilty of attempted murder on Davis’s three friends and guilty of firing a “missile” at a vehicle. He faces 60 years in prison because of the convictions.
This is however no victory for justice. Instead, it is a victory for the in-grained, racist stereotyping of our children, especially our male children. This is as it was with George Zimmerman, an indication of how little Black life is valued in America, in general, and Florida in particular.
In this state it does not matter how vicious the unwarranted death of a Black male teen is, if that death was caused by a White man, Florida juries refuse to call it murder.
How the Dunn jury could convict him of attempted murder on the three survivors but not convict him of murdering Jordan Davis makes absolutely no sense at all. I don’t care what any legal analyst has to say. It is logical to conclude that if Dunn is guilty of the attempted murder of those he did not kill while shooting at them, he has to be guilty of murder of the one person he did shoot and kill. How on earth could it be otherwise?
But I think I can answer my own question. The members of the jury, like so many others in this state and country believe Black teenaged males are so dangerous, so threatening, so ominous that any White man is justified in killing them even when they are unarmed.
That kind of racist thinking is the foundation of not only what Dunn and Zimmerman believed but is what this jury believed and used as the hypothesis for its deliberations.
Our community needs to understand clearly what is being said here: this verdict means your sons can be murdered for playing loud music, for getting into an argument with a White man or for anything else White men deem unacceptable social behavior.
I recognize in this new “post racial America” there are those who will find my conclusions offensive. They’ll just have to get over it. Because I find the murders of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis offensive and I find even more offensive the refusal of juries in Florida to convict those who killed them of those murders.
There was a time in America when Black parents warned their sons not to offend White men by being disrespectful in anyway or by looking them in the eye and whatever they did, don’t look at a White woman.
It seems those times are back and this go round we have to add not playing loud music. Just think about it.