Florida’s ‘Trayvon Martin Problem’: Another Black Teen Dies Due to ‘Stands Your Ground’

Jordan Davis (left), Michael Dunn (right)

In February of this year, we learned of a young man named Trayvon Martin. While visiting his father’s home, Martin went to the convenience store to buy Skittles and an iced tea. The details have yet to fully come to light but, from what we know for sure, seventeen year-old Martin and an adult, Hispanic male named George Zimmerman got into a verbal altercation. Neighborhood residents heard someone screaming for help and then gun shots. In the end, Martin was found unarmed and dead. It took 40 days for Zimmerman to be arrested. And, when he was taken into custody, he claimed Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as his defense.

Now, we have Jordan Russell Davis…

Last Friday, a 45 year-old white male named Michael Dunn reportedly approached a car where 17 year-old Davis sat with his friends. Dunn apparently asked the teens to turn their music down. And, when a verbal altercation ensued between Dunn and Davis, Dunn shot at the vehicle more than a half a dozen times. Dunn then retrieved his girlfriend and drove home. Davis’ friends, on the other hand, held their companion as he died in their arms…

Shockingly enough, Dunn is claiming that he acted totally responsibly. And, he is, like Zimmerman, citing the “Stand Your Ground” law as his support for murdering a teenager in a vehicle…who threatened him…while seated…in a car…that he could have simply driven away from.

So, there are several issues with this story. But, for me, here is the worst. Dunn, who’s lawyer notes his “responsible” behavior, had driven into Jacksonville for his son’s wedding. Then, after shooting at a car full of children, he drove back to his hotel. Then, after seeing that one of the children was killed on the news, he simply drove home. He didn’t turn himself in. He didn’t attempt to offer an apology to the family of the deceased. How is it sensible that you have to leave your name and number when you scuff an empty parked car but when you shoot at a car full of children, you can simply drive away? There is something truly insidious about this story that is in the exact same vein as the Martin case.

In each instance, the victims have been unarmed Black males. But that is not the bogey here. Think about the actions of these men after killing these two young boys. Zimmerman went to the police department and strolled comfortably through the station as if he was amongst friends. He wasn’t behaving like a shaky, scared man who had just killed someone. Same goes for Dunn. He was in control of his faculties enough to pick up his girlfriend, drive back to his hotel, and, presumably, go to bed. It is almost as if Zimmerman and Dunn were content in their actions. And, the Russell case has yet to develop. But, Zimmerman’s team has worked more diligently to investigate the deceased than to offer mea culpas to Martin’s parents.

And, in the spiraling slew of accusations against Martin after his death, Zimmerman’s defense has been that Martin was somehow a bad apple who wanted to kill him that grave night. Because, you know most Black boys with snacks and a cell phone are looking to kill perfect strangers. This is truly becoming ridiculous. What rational, responsible adult walks away from a shoot out with not so much as an ounce of trepidation? This is not the wild West. Like, really. How many more Black teens have to be killed before we admit that we have a problem in this country?

Do these men think they were doing all of us favor? There were just too many Skittles eating, music listening Black boys on the streets of Florida? Everyone who discusses this story will focus only on the race of the dead boys. But, what they won’t focus on is that they were killed. This is not like when you punch someone in the face at a bar. This is not a school yard fight between children. These are grown men acting as judge, jury, and executioner of boys. They are dead. And neither of the men in question has the slightest bit of humanity to maintain at least a hint of culpability.

The Martin case received a good deal of its media coverage from the fact that the police took so long to arrest Zimmerman. And, in this case, Dunn was arrested the next day. But, the real question is quite simple: how long are gun-toting men in Florida going to use this “Stand Your Ground” law as a defense for murdering Black male high school students? Mind you, in each case, the murdered boys were approached by their killers. They did not seek out the men in question. Zimmerman, is on tape claiming to be chasing Martin. My gosh, let’s get real here people. I am all for standing your ground. But who is going to stand up for all these dead boys? What ground do we even have to stand on?

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

3 Responses

  1. Cynthia Padilla says:

    Awesome commentary

    Sent from my iPhone

  1. December 14, 2012

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  2. December 14, 2012

    […] Tragedies like Newtown, Columbine, everyday in Chicago, the Trayvon Martin case, and the killing of Jordan Davis are indeed a cultural problem. We have an extremely violent culture which glamorizes rape, murder, […]