I appeared on the Thom Hartmann Big Picture show on Monday to try to demystify and digest the Michael Dunn verdict. As Hartmann points out during the interview, the jury found that Dunn was guilty of shooting at a moving vehicle (the 5th count) but failed to find him guilty of shooting Jordan Davis, an unarmed teen. Dunn also received guilty verdicts of the three attempted murders. After thinking about the verdict, I believe the jury must have found that there was no threat or fear of threat when Dunn fired the last three of ten shots at the car, in which Jordan Davis was a passenger, as it sped away from Dunn. But that still begs the question of why they did not find him guilty of the first seven shots which resulted in Davis’ death.
There were 12 jurors in the room deliberating along with a 13th juror. And that 13th juror resulted in a hung jury. The 13th juror is the subconscious or conscious racial bias of one or more of the jurors assembled. In football, there are 11 players. But often times, sportscasters will talk about a 12th man playing. The 12th man is how the fan crowd noise is referred. And often times, in a football game, the 12th man who is not playing on the field but sitting in the stands loudly cheering for their team will affect the outcome of the game. And the 13th juror obviously affected the outcome of the verdict and resulted in a mistrial. Whatever racial bias existed on the part of one or more of the jurors may have resulted in one or more of them not being able to accept that Dunn’s version of the events was unsupported by everyone at trial, except him.
The state intends to retry Michael Dunn. But there are acts that can be taken by everyday citizens to protest and protect against this injustice occurring. First, Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws must be revisited, revised and/or repealed. And in order to begin the work of doing so, activists and community people who care about justice for all Americans and particularly young black teens, men and women must rally, lobby and vote to effectuate the change. Those who support justice for all the Jordan Davis’s, Renisha McBrides, Trayvon Martins and Jonathan Ferrells must be the change agents. A vigilante must not be allowed to follow innocent black youth or provoke an argument and assert a subjective perceived threat and shoot and kill an unarmed black child. And then be either found not guilty or a hung jury. As CNN’s legal commentator Holly Hughes stated, imagine if it were reversed and older black men were shooting and killing young white youth. The law would be repealed in a flick of an eye.
In addition, to fighting to repeal the discriminatory and racially disproportionately unfair Stand Your Ground law in Florida, those who stand on the side of justice must fight for laws to protect life. As much as there is needed a change in Stand Your Ground laws, there must be laws to protect human life. In America, we value human life more than anything. And we need laws that will protect our children against vigilantes who will shoot and kill an innocent unarmed child and then fail to call the police but return to a hotel room to drink and order pizza. As Jordan Davis’ father stated:
We do not accept a law that would allow collateral damage to our family members. “We expect the law to be behind us and protect us. That’s what I wanted the law to do—protect Jordan as we protected Jordan.”
Protecting our youth against armed vigilantes should not be a white or black issue. It is a family values issues. It is an American issue. And we must all fight against any injustices that take away human life where the perpetrator is not held criminally responsible.
My commentary on the Dunn verdict on the Thom Hartmann show on RT American follows below.
UPDATED: February 19, 2014