Tag Archives: Self Defense

Lack of Info Re Other SYG Incidents Puzzling

You figure they’re probably happening elsewhere in places other than Florida and across more than one pair of demographics yet when all is said and done, it seems that the only ones we hear about are the incidents that happen between blacks and whites.  Maybe it’s not true but it sure feels like it.

I say this because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of media coverage of other SYG shootings.  And there have been others, least of which is the shooting of Chad Oulson in a Florida movie theater earlier this year.

71 year-old retired police captain, Curtis Reeves, Jr. shot Oulson after the two got into an argument during a matinee showing of the film, Lone Survivor, when Oulson began texting his daughter.

Both Reeves and Oulson are white.

On February 7th, a judge ruled that Reeves will remain in jail until his trial and that second-degree murder charges were appropriately filed.  There will be another pretrial hearing sometime this month.

I didn’t hear anything about this, did you?  I could have missed it, truth be told.

It’s a shame though because it’s important that the public receives as much information as it can about this dangerous law in order to make a reasonable judgment concerning it.  It’s especially imperative that the African American community see and hear of these other SYG shootings, especially when they cross different racial lines, in order to get a better idea of the scope of the statute’s effect on all people.

The media’s reluctance, so far, to vet the Reeves/Oulson second-degree murder trial, or any of the others, makes it’s somewhat easy to feed into the belief that there’s a SYG conspiracy in the works that targets young black males.  It’s easy because the only incidents we hear or read about are the ones that leave a young black man dead at the hands of an older white man.

I ask myself, couldn’t the coverage of the Michael Dunn/Jordan Davis murder trial happen alongside coverage of the pretrial motions for Curtis Reeves?  Had that been so, it could’ve been a teaching moment for the masses; one that showed the hazardous ambiguity of the law and how it effects everyone and not just African Americans.

On the other hand, if the media covers the Reeves/Oulson murder trial and Curtis Reeves is found guilty, cries will go up in protest shouting racism.  People will question whether or not justice recognizes equally the worth of a young black man and the value of a young white man. Such a happening could be the knob that turns public opinion, demanding a change to the statute.

Equally so, if Curtis Reeves is found innocent, such an unlawful slaughter of a suburban family man could as well be a turning point that bulwarks opponent’s attempts to amend or shoot down entirely Florida’s stand your ground law.  Maybe it’s me but I get the impression that those are two outcomes that some don’t want.

A Few Other SYG Shootings

http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/bail-hearing-resumes-this-morning-in-movie-theater-shooting/2164575

http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/autopsy-report-indicates-movie-theater-shooting-victim-raised-his-hand/2165334

http://www.guns.com/2014/03/10/judge-rules-fl-mans-use-stand-ground-defense-deputys-shooting/

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2014-03-03/news/os-bar-fight-shooting-stand-your-ground-20140303_1_ground-hearing-ground-immunity-bar-fight

http://www.weartv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/monclair-shooting-uses-stand-your-ground-defense-41929.shtml

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There’s No White Boogeyman but Evil Does Exist

Today I read two articles concerning the Jordan Davis murder trial, SYG and self-defense laws.  I’ve included the links below.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/20/opinion/young-white-dunn-boogeyman/

There is no white boogeyman – Yolanda Young

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/19/opinion/omara-stand-your-ground-and-race/

It’s not about ‘stand your ground’, it’s about race – Mark O’Mara

I see a lot of what Mark O’Mara is saying, particularly his assumption that the whole problem with the self-defense laws is the ‘no duty to retreat” clause as well as the definition of “reasonable fear”.  But there’s more.

“The underlying concern with the statute is that those who are aware of it may be emboldened by its protection and place themselves in, or remain in, a circumstance that increases the likelihood of using force.”  – Mark O’Mara 

Mr. O’Mara’s correct that reasonable fear can become entirely unreasonable when the fear is stemming from a confrontation with a black male.  And if his quote above doesn’t, in fact, describe what possibly was going through Zimmerman’s mind that evening last year-that self-defense or SYG laws gave him the right to confront the unarmed teen, consequences be damned-then I don’t know what does.  I only wonder where all of these good, objective thoughts were during the Zimmerman trial.  You have to love defense attorneys and their after-the-fact observations.

On the other hand, I’m not that inclined to agree with the article by Yolanda Young.  Her idea, that the African American community is slowly becoming paranoid of white men and their intentions for our children, is far-fetched in my opinion.  The black community has never been paranoid per se, only cognizant of the possible dangers that exist when confrontations between the races occur.  My parents taught me and I, in turn, taught my children.  We would be fool-hardy not to do so as it’s not paranoia, it’s survival, plain and simple.

Ms. Young likens the warnings we give to our offspring today as the same warnings given to blacks at the height of Jim Crow, when African Americans were being lynched almost on a daily basis and had to have a playbook on how to navigate in the white world.  However, she characterizes today’s cautions to our children as hyperbole and calls them unnecessary.   I beg to differ.

When I think of evil, I’m of the mind of Justice Scalia in his statement about pornography in that, “I know it when I see it”.   I feel this way because truthfully, evil does exist and I have seen it.  Whether it’s the smug, assured and confident evil depicted by the Michael Dunn’s of the world, individuals who do their dirt willingly and readily, under the assumption that every man will appreciate their “right” to do so or whether it’s the tentative, fearful evil shown by the George Zimmerman’s who, having done their dastardly deeds, are now fearful that they may have bitten off more than they can chew yet still throw their selves on the mercy of hopeful, public sentiment.

Both are equally despicable and both would be equally guilty in a court of law, in my mind. We as a country have to be prepared for the individuals that Mr. O’Mara warns us about; those who are looking for a reason to pull a gun on a lone, unarmed black man.  Furthermore, as long as the courts are reluctant to go the extra mile with their jurisprudence to ensure that all facets of the defendants’ actions, as well as his or her state of mind, are vetted, then it’s only prudent that black parents continue to instruct their children into the dangers that could befall them.

When all is said and done and if given the opportunity, I would ask Ms. Young two questions.  First, do you have any children?  And if she answered in the affirmative, I’d then ask her, “What do you tell them?

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Invisible chains are still chains

There exists all types of slavery.

We have the easily, identifiable and historical sorts of human bondage.  We know it when we see it; it’s apparent in the inhumanity and the degree in which such systematic brutality is served upon a particular people.  Other times, folks are being repressed and they aren’t even aware of it.  That’s where we are now.  The trappings from years past may have changed- no chains, no whips, no Jim Crow-but the overall outcome is still the same; black men are dying, their life and existence in every day society, suspect.  That’s the lesson I took from the Jordan Davis murder trial.

Watching Michael Dunn during the proceedings, I couldn’t help but notice the level of smugness he brought into the courtroom.  I asked myself if he knew or had contemplated what could possibly lie ahead of him.  I mean, nobody is assured of an acquittal even when truly innocent so I was at a loss for his, what I thought was, cavalier attitude about the events that went down.

Maybe it was me but it seemed he was comfortable with the deed, showing no remorse.  Even more frightening, his demeanor spoke volumes that he would do it all over again, if given the chance not so much because he had to-I’m not buying the “he had a gun” claim-but more so because he wanted to.  In my opinion, he liked what he had done and it’s that underlying glee that speaks to privilege and expectations of another time; a period when the courts refused to provide blacks with equal protection under the law.

Today, these expectations of privilege and the following judgments and thought processes in lock step behind them, are slowly insinuating themselves into all aspects of our society again, as if they’d never left.

So while we battle the courts in 2014-let that date sink in for a minute-for equal protection under the law in SYG states, elsewhere the inequities continue, flourish even.  There are still disparities in healthcare, inconsistencies in incarceration, biases in employment pay, working conditions and hiring as well as discrimination in housing. You can’t consider any one without the other and must continue to look at the big picture.

We see them and yet, we don’t see them, these new chains of bondage.   They’re not as heavy as the ones of old nor do they rattle or make it hard for us to move around but they’re no less damaging-to any and every man-than their very real predecessors.   We’re simply getting used to wearing them and that’s a big problem.

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