As the city of Jacksonville, Fla., continues to deal with the shocking murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis (pictured above) at the hands of overzealous gun collector Michael Dunn (pictured below), the “Sunshine State” has suddenly become a hostile environment for young Black boys who pose little in the way of a threat to callow individuals armed with guns. Since the tragic news broke, several groups have rallied together to call for an end to the “Stand Your Ground” law invoked by both Dunn and George Zimmerman, who also dubiously killed teen Trayvon Martin earlier this year.
Civil Rights group the Advancement Project has been on the front lines in getting messages to the masses that this law needs to be taken off the books. Speaking on behalf of the organization, Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Farmer and General Counsel/Managing Director Edward Hailes spoke with NewsOne about the Davis case and what supporters can do to protest the “Stand Your Ground” law in addition to calling attention to Davis’ and Martin’s deaths.
“Of course this tragedy requires a lot of focus from groups both on the ground and nationally,” said Hailes. “We have to determine the best way to make sure that our youth of color are protected from these dangerous types of activities.” Hailes added, “We need to make sure that the laws that allow for these acts to take place without any remedy or justice for the family and the community get changed. Our interest is making sure that this tragedy will not go unnoticed and that we have folks on the ground fully informed on the happenings.”
When asked about the various groups and ground support Advancement Project has been able to amass, Farmer was careful to state that she and her team are in collaboration with a variety of like-minded organizations. “The Florida New Majority, that group is paying attention to this matter as is SEIU 1199,” said Farmer. “I’m sure there are many more, and we’re reaching out daily to connect with them.”
A Closer Look at ‘Stand Your Ground’
The “Stand Your Ground” law has shifted the authority from police officers to likely untrained citizens.
This peculiar intersection of justice and oppression has made Florida ripe for the explosive cases of Martin and Davis. Hailes offered his take on why that is. “For one, the “Stand Your Ground” law has the full embrace of the legislature. It sort of bolsters this attitude among those in the state to use guns to express their views on what they think is right,” said Hailes.
“In the Trayvon Martin case, it was ‘we don’t want certain people in our neighborhood that wear hoodies’ and in the Jordan Davis case, it becomes ‘we don’t like loud music.’ [The Stand Your Ground Law] allows for those to express their prerogative regarding the law in violent ways. We haven’t resolved all the racial tension nationally and it takes a lot of work to address the inequalities in our country that result in differences in opinions over music and fashion.”
In a related interview that took place earlier, Farmer explained that the Advancement Project will continue to shed light on the Jordan Davis matter and fight for the full prosecution of Michael Dunn. She also stressed that racial justice is at the heart of the mission as well, working within state and local confines to protect the future generation of African-American children.
What We Can Do
Farmer offered NewsOne readers a way we can get involved in fighting “Stand Your Ground” and finding justice for Davis’ and Martin’s murders as we await prosecution in both cases:
Citizens can apply pressure on Governor Rick Scott and the entire Florida legislature in calling for a repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Several petitions are circulating regarding the matter, with one petition having a goal of 10,000 signatures and hovering just over 7,000 thus far. The petition demands that Gov. Scott “ditch” the “Stand-Your-Ground” law.
Farmer also suggested that we diligently hound the media to report on the case and not let it get brushed to the side in favor of less pertinent issues.
Angie Nixon, the North Florida Regional Coordinator for the aforementioned Florida New Majority, spoke with NewsOne in a separate interview regarding protecting our Black youth. Undertaking a series of dynamic campaigns, including the Marrissa Alexander case and other social justice issues, Nixon has her gaze firmly set on the Davis case.
“We’ve taken on more of a support role in this case because it involved a young person and we’re supporting our partners, the Dream Defenders and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC),” said Nixon. “We’re waiting to see how the case will proceed with the prosecution. We’re familiar with state attorney Angela Corey, who has worked on the Trayvon Martin case. There has been some issues in case prosecution, in particular within the Black and Hispanic communities and the disparities there. We are rallying up the troops, but we’re waiting to see how the state proceeds.”
While nothing can be done to bring back Jordan Davis, there has to be some changes applied in the state before another senseless killing like this happens once more.
Watch news coverage of Davis’ murder here:
Davis’ Senseless Murder
Whatever drove Dunn to approach Davis and his friends was certainly motivated by the hidden power he kept concealed before it was too late.
Not only was Davis and his friends defenseless against Dunn’s aggression, they were unfairly attacked over something that could have been handled in a far more amicable fashion. Dunn appears to have justified his use of excessive use of force because he felt threatened by a gun, but investigators have found no such evidence.
Dunn’s tough-guy act was severely out of line and likely motivated by racism, shattering the lives of the Davis family and friends forever. What was it worth to Dunn to silence a group of loud, but ultimately harmless, teenage boys?
The answers can’t come swiftly enough.