- Jordan Davis & Trayvon Martin
I don’t advocate violence. I don’t condone killing. The idea of a person being so audacious as to take another life is sickening and very scary. But even considering this, I wonder if Jordan Davis would still be alive if he actually was the scary thug Michael Dunn says he believes he was shooting at when he killed the 17 year old. If Michael Dunn truly believed he was in danger, and Jordan Davis was actually armed, I imagine the scenario wouldn’t have gone much differently other than the deceased having a chance to defend himself instead of being gunned down the way he was.
We know very well how the trial would have gone had this been the case and Jordan Davis, in fear for his life, had killed Michael Dunn. The Stand-Your-Ground law probably wouldn’t suffice as a defense for Jordan Davis, and he would spend the rest of his life in prison. But he’d be alive. The same for Trayvon Martin. If he was as dangerous as George Zimmerman imagined him to be, and he’d been armed and capable of doing to Zimmerman what Zimmerman did to him, he might be in prison now, convicted with very little consideration or deliberation, but he’d be alive.
The fact that these cases lead me to feel the state of Florida is all but making killing young black men legal is difficult to grasp. Michael Dunn will spend his life in prison, but as the verdict stands, he’s not serving that time for the murder of Jordan Davis, but for the attempted murders of the other passengers in the vehicle who survived. The question is being asked: What do we do now? What can be done? And it seems that many of the answers are more akin to teaching young black men how to avoid being killed than they are addressing the people who are killing them. How do I erase the threat my presence poses to someone who believes my mere presence is a threat? What can I do about the fact that a disagreement with this person, no matter how trivial, could lead not only do my death, but a legal justification for my life being taken because of the fear that people who look like me are dangerous. The men responsible for the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were prepared, they were proactive, and they were ready for the danger they felt they would face in Florida. They were armed, and when they felt they were in danger, they shot first, and the law supported their right to protect themselves from perceived danger. They are both living still because of this preparation. Even more ridiculous is the idea that George Zimmerman has taken every opportunity to capitalize on the notoriety that has come along with his killing Trayvon Martin. Apparently, killing a 17 year-old black boy can make you a celebrity in America.
Would I be wrong to suggest that black America should be proactive, buy weapons, arm ourselves so that when we feel we are in danger we can shoot first and hope the law supports our right to protect ourselves from potential danger?
I don’t advocate violence. I don’t condone killing. The idea of a person being so audacious as to take another life is sickening and very scary. But even considering this, two dead black boys is two too many, especially if the law says their killings can be understood as rational responses from the men who killed them. If these young black men actually embodied that fear and danger their killers assumed—if they were anything like the “thugs” their killers thought they were protecting themselves from—if they were armed and able to protect themselves from the danger that took their lives, I’m pretty certain the law would not have been on their side. There are countless historical references that lead me to believe they’d be punished to the maximum extent the law would allow. But, still, they’d be alive. If, the next time a 17 year-old black boy is confronted by an older man who believes he’s in the wrong neighborhood or acting inappropriately in public, the 17 year-old reacted violently, killed the man out of fear for his life…if that 17 year-old black boy killed that man, would America understand that fear enough that a jury of his peers would consider the facts for 20+ hours only to come up deadlocked? Even with these two cases fresh in our nation’s memory? Because a 17 year-old black boy, it seems, would be completely justified in thinking it wise to be proactive, to be armed and ready for danger. History has proven his presence is enough for him to be killed, and I don’t know a 17 year-old who would rather be dead than have a chance at life…even if it is in prison. If these seem to be the choices, is it wrong to suggest being prepared?