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Stand Your Ground turning into defense for racism

Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 00:02


Though most of the U.S. seems to have progressively moved forward with the Civil Rights era, which started several decades ago, the South always seems to fall behind. Every year, there seems to be another southern high school still fighting with the archaic problem of segregated proms, but in recent months another problem seems to be becoming a trend in Florida, a state law that seems fine on paper but in practice seems eerily reminiscent of old Jim Crow laws.

After another crime utilizing the Stand Your Ground defense, a Duval County court began proceedings against Michael Dunn, who said he killed Jordan Davis in November 2012. Dunn, a 47-year-old white man, said he shot Davis, a black teenager, when the two got into a confrontation about Davis’s loud music playing from his car while at a gas station.

According to a New York Times article, Assistant State Attorney John Guy, who helped prosecute George Zimmerman last summer, said Dunn fired 10 shots after he heard what he described to his fiancée as “thug music.” Guy said Davis was sitting in the car empty-handed with his door closed.

Dunn’s defense said Davis had a weapon, and told Dunn “you’re dead.” While investigators were unable to find the shotgun Dunn said he saw, a pocketknife was found in Davis’s clothing.

Many states have adopted the Stand Your Ground law, a law intended to promote self-defense especially when one is threatened at home, but according to NBC News, more than 20 states extended the law to apply to self-defense in dangerous situations in public areas. Half of these states, such as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, are in the former Jim Crow South.

If anything is learned from Florida courts in the past year, it is that courts rarely work in the favor of minorities when concerning the Stand Your Ground law.

Last summer, Zimmerman was acquitted in Central Florida after shooting Trayvon Martin, a black teenager whose death sparked national attention. 

Around the same time, Marissa Alexander, a black mother who claimed a Stand Your Ground defense, was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison after she fired a gun at her abusive husband, threatening him without injuring him.

If this trial goes anything like previous Stand Your Ground cases, then Dunn may be acquitted like Zimmerman, and the Stand Your Ground law may once again be used not as a genuine self-defense explanation, but a legal defense angry white men claim after they get into altercations with the black community.

The Stand Your Ground law needs to be upheld by courts for the way it is intended — self-defense from a genuine threat, not as a legal scheme to support pre-existing prejudice. If the courts aren’t going to administer the law justly, the law should be restricted to apply only to home defense so as not to continue allowing excuses for public violence.

Depending on who is giving the numbers, Stand Your Ground has been said to both reduce crime rates as people can defend themselves, but also increase crime rates because the law is now advocating people defending themselves. 

Unfortunately, most people in society are not trained enough to properly gauge a situation, assuming their actions are always just in the moment, but later coming up with excuses such as seeing a shotgun where there may have only been a pocketknife to build their self-defense claim.

Alex Rosenthal is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.

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Thu Feb 20 2014 19:53
After peeking at public information ya all have a few things in common, besides blasting a young man. What were you like in college?
Mon Feb 17 2014 09:02
Looks like our Star reporter just jumped on the band wagon of mis informed future victims who will bow down and hand over their property to a criminal of ANY race who wants it.

Whenever I need a good dose of CLUELESSNESS the Oracle never let's me down.

Keep up the mediocre work!

Thu Feb 13 2014 13:58
Wow, what an epic failure at comprehension and fact checking.
Please make sure you know what you're writing about, before writing and the publishing your work.
You are embarrassing yourself.
Lance Owens
Thu Feb 13 2014 11:28
You need to demand a refund from your University as you are obviously not being educated and remind your parents to request the same from your local public school. Jim Crow Laws, written in the context of creating a seperate society between people of color and whites, closer to apartheid. More to the point one of the laws that comes to mind is the one stating that Blacks could only own guns of the two most expensive manufacturers, ergo limiting the number of Black people with firearms. Stand your ground applies equally to all races and anyone who happens to be traveling through a particular State regardless of their State of residence. With regards to this shooting as with the Zimmerman/Martin ordeal this is left to the jury to decide. With regards to Marissa Alexander, didn't she leave the house, go out to the car and return with a gun...little bit different circumstances there. Recommend you work on your "Critical Thinking" skills before you decide to write articles. Common Sense and Critical Thinking are in dire need in this country!
Thu Feb 13 2014 09:07
Jim Crow? Really? What an ignorant screed. Worthy of a D+ at best. I'd like to point out that "gun control" first came about after the "Civil War" in the South. It was pushed by Democrats to keep newly-freed black slaves from owning guns. The Democrat party's terror wing, the KKK, enjoyed preying upon innocent people who were denied the means to defend themselves.
Wed Feb 12 2014 17:32
The sheer number of misstatements and misportrayals of facts in this editorial call into question the journalistic ethics of the author's mass communications classes. The George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case is falsely referenced as a Stand Your Ground case; in reality, when one is being straddled flat on one's back in a "ground and pound" SYG is inapplicable as retreat is not an option. Second, the Mr. Rosenthal's allegations that SYG laws are racist ignores the fact, as documented by criminologist and researcher John Lott that roughly 80% of such defenses prove to benefit blacks who have been forced to defend themselves. Once upon a time, journalists were expected to actuallly research the topic on which they wrote. Apparently this is no longer the case in today's college journalism classes.
Stark Meyn
Wed Feb 12 2014 14:48
Wow, are college students this stupid? Hardly an objective piece. Wrong on almost every point factually. Mass communications professor should give him C- unless this is considered a work of fiction.
D. Walters
Wed Feb 12 2014 14:12
I'm amazed you've made it to sophomore Mr. Rosenthal. Mr. Zimmerman did not use "stand your ground" as a defense. Mrs. Alexander left the room to retrieve a gun and then fired a shot into the wall of a room her children were in , and was charged accordingly.

Maybe you should consider a different major. Perhaps one where the axes are easier to grind?

Mon Feb 10 2014 23:10
under jim crow laws a black man wasnt allowed a weapon law abiding or not,
and god forbid he try to defend himself.

stand your ground laws benefit the law abiding no mater what his color or religiion

Mon Feb 10 2014 23:01
So if I were to attack a black man he shouldn't have the right to defend himself? OOOPS I forgot, that would be considered a hate crime and punishable under federal Law
Mon Feb 10 2014 18:49
The cases you mentioned simply do not relate to your point...they are vastly different from The Dunn case, especially the Alexander case. Do your research. That being said, the defense in this case is a joke. Unless there are facts which have not come to light, Dunn was not in imminent danger.
Mon Feb 10 2014 17:04
Zimmerman is as much as a minority as Barack Obama is. Both of them are 50% white. Zimmerman's other half is Peruvian Native because of his mother.
Mon Feb 10 2014 15:00
So if I'm a victim of a black criminal I might as well accept the violent attack so I'm mot labeled racist. Alex you are a moron.
Mon Feb 10 2014 11:18
We are a country of laws, are we not? (well, Obama doesn't seem to thinks so) Mr. Zimmerman was found not guilty by a jury of his peers. (Lets not forget that GZ is not a racist. The fact that he mentored young black males, took a black girl to prom, and he himself having distant relatives who are *gasp* black).
Ms. Alexander was found guilty of discharging a firearm. Gun safety rule number one, NEVER fire your weapon unless you are ready to shoot. 10-20-Life, that is the law which is currently being tweaked by the Legislature.
Crying 'racism' is truly like crying wolf. No one is listening anymore except stupid college kids living in their own world.

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