On the heels of the Trayvon Martin murder and Zimmerman trial, another issue surfacing in Black current events is the case of Marissa Alexander, whose charges and conviction are a mirror of the Zimmerman case.

I have seen a number of pundits and media that try to assert that Stand Your Ground was not a part of the Zimmerman trial, yet Juror B37 stated that it was the Stand Your Ground law that left the jury with no option but to vote not guilty. And one juror has since spoken out for reforms in the law due to the heavy guilt she feels behind the Zimmerman verdict. So, please kill that noise. The defense did not motion for an official invocation of the law, but they didn’t have to because apparently the jury was well aware if the law and sought to adhere to it and ignore the actual charges of manslaughter and second degree murder.

The Story

Alexander’s case involves a woman, Marissa Alexander, who had been in an abusive relationship with her husband. The two had separated months before the incident and Alexander had a protective order against her husband. Alexander returned to their home to retrieve her things during a time she’d thought her husband was away. He returned and initiated an altercation with her in the bathroom. Alexander got out if the bathroom and was pursued by her husband who threatened to kill her. Alexander made her way to the garage and got her gun from her car and found herself confronted by her husband again. After he threatened to kill her she fired a warning shot into a wall near him and he left with two their children.

Initially, Alexander’s husband admitted to having abused Alexander as well as the mother of his other children. He also stated that he would have “put his hands on her” that day had she not had her gun. Sometime during the trial her husband took back his statements and said that he only said them to protect his wife and that instead he never threatened to kill her and actually o,waded for his life when she pulled the gun on him.

Stand Your Ground & 10-20-Life

Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground gives leniency to individuals who use deadly force to protect themselves from imminent danger. Alexander sought this law as protection in her self-defense claim and was denied its use by the judge. After 15 minutes of deliberation, the jury found her guilty of the 3 charges of aggravated assault that were brought against her.

Ironically the prosecuter for this case is the same one as for the Zimmerman trial. This woman stated that Alexabder could not use the Stand Your Ground defense because she should have run away instead of going to the garage for her gun. Due to Flotida’s 10-20-life mandatory-minimum requirement for persons being charged for gun related crimes. These individuals get 10 years for withdrawing their weapon, 20 for discharging their weapon, and 25 to life for actually shooting someone. Alexander was sentenced to 20 years minimum for the warning shot she fired.


The Problem

The issue here is why was Alexander denied the opportunity to use the Stand Your Ground law when Zimmerman’s entire acquittal is built off of that law even though his attorney never officially invoked it. How is that this woman was expected to retreat from her home in order to prove she feared for her life from a mam who had already physically abused her and Zimmerman was not expected to leave a public street but was still considered to be acting out of fear for his life from an unarmed teenage boy he’d never met.

One problem is that, for some reason (that of course the court will not that it was race) the prosecution, the judge, and the jury could not bring themselves to believe this woman feared for her life. They keep debating about the fact that she confronted her attacker instead of running away and the fact that there were pending domestic violence charges against from a previous altercation with her husband where he suffered a black eye and some other injuries.

If we can allow a racist, wanna-be cop to pursue an unarmed boy that he “feared” it would seem that we could believe that this woman, despite taking a stand against her attacker, was also in fear for her life and, therefore, resorted to deadly violence (well not deadly because she never killed anyone). And just because she got the best of her husband on one occasion (so it seems) that she is somehow hostile and a deadly threat to her husband. Just because a victim fights back, it doesn’t make them unafraid. By suggesting that she should have run away, the courts are asking domestic violence victims to never stand up for themselves be ause they lose the right to consider themselves victims. The court is also judging the entire situation beyond that moment which is something that Juror B37 confessed was not done in the Zimmerman trial.

The Point

The Stand Your Ground law is problematic in a number of ways. The major issue is that it suggests that a judge can determine externally and objectively whether an individual feared for their life (which is what the judge must believe to allow for law to be invoked and leniency given). In Alexander’s case the courts don’t believe she feared for her life because she didn’t run away from the house, she didn’t call the police, and one time a few months before the incident she had finally gotten the best of her husband during one of his attacks and was, therefore, charged with battery against him.

The other issue is with the mandatory-minimum regulations which are most often applied to drug related cases (hmmm…) and actually strip away the subjectivity that is supposed to come with a sentencing. Judges are supposed to be able to discern how harsh a penalty a person deserves in accordance with the crime that is committed. This regulation takes that power from the court and blankets every circumstance with a general brutality which is unconstitutional in that it results in “cruel and unusual punishment.”

While the courts would like us to again believe that race was not a factor, there is no other reason that Alexander was treated so harshly for killing no one while Zimmerman walked away from murder. There is a clear bias in the legal system because while Zimmerman was not even immediately arrested for killing a Black boy, Alexander was immediately arrested and quickly convicted. We, as a society and people had better begin to demand that the courts respect our civil liberties and stop treating Black citizens with a general presumption of guilt.

I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,

An Angry Black Man

  1. Anonymous says:

    Its funny how the courts decided Alexander wasn’t in fear of her life because she didn’t run out the house (unarmed) but Zimmerman was justified in pursuing Trayvon with a loaded gun! Interesting. In a historical context, when black folks where lynched by mobs it was a demonstration of power imposed by the dominate society. If you look at what’s going on in Florida, the state is imposing their power upon and unprotected community and displaying it for the world to see. I charge modern day lynching.

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