Archive for homicide – Page 2

"Judge would've had more flexibility in sentencing Alexander if she'd killed her husband rather than shoot into a wall."

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Marissa Alexander booking photo

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The above clip is Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) on Meet the Press today discussing President Obama's remarks about race, Trayvon Martin, and the Zimmerman verdict:

I was very proud, quite frankly. I think that it was timely, but more importantly, I think that he could feel the anger that was going around across this country, and he felt that he needed to respond in a way that I think took a lot of courage.

For him to basically say that we have a situation where a young man is basically convicted of his own murder, that someone can hunt you down and then say, I'm afraid and kill you, he made it clear that Trayvon Martin had rights as well. And he made it clear as well that African-American men, for history, for a very long time, have had to deal with this problem.

Let's keep that in mind as we move to an L.A. Times piece titled, "Marissa Alexander case emerges as symbol after Zimmerman verdict." Please read the entire article. Until then, consider this:

In combination, they can have the effect of warping a criminal’s incentives, he said.  Self-defense laws reward shooters with permission to kill if they can prove they’re acting out of fear for their lives. At the same time, minimum sentencing laws mandate harsh punishments for those whose fear is judged to fall short of that threshold – regardless of context or motivation.

Under these laws, it’s in a person's interest to preserve the appearance of self-defense rather than mitigate the violence of his act, Newburn said. In theory, that could lead a person to kill in order to eliminate eyewitnesses.

Yours is the only story being told if the other person is dead,” Newburn said.

Even a judge’s sentencing discretion expands in cases involving death because manslaughter doesn’t automatically trigger Florida’s “10-20-Life” provision. Newburn said the judge would have had more flexibility in sentencing Alexander if she had killed her husband, rather than shoot into a wall.

The acceptance of these flawed laws is destroying lives (literally); when the utilization of "self-defense" is this subjective, when someone can simply justify taking a human life with, "Hey, I was afraid!" even if they weren't, when "stand your ground" is exploited the way it has been, then our justice system has been turned on its inequitable head and does not serve its intended purpose. Quite the opposite.

"A young man is basically convicted of his own murder..." And a young woman in fear for her life is sentenced to twenty years for shooting a wall.

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"Things are different now. Haven't you heard?"

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the more things change the more they stay same via r4nt.com smaller

While many on the right are viciously exploiting the Trayvon Martin tragedy by disrespecting the victim and bashing and smearing the president for his attempt to heal and communicate, others are being more thoughtful.

Via the Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, in part:

Since George Zimmerman was acquitted last Saturday on all charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, The Times has received more than 250 letters reacting to the verdict and its aftermath. Almost all of the letters have been pointed and earnest, and readers on all sides of the debate have found little to like about the case and its aftermath.

-- Paul Thornton, letters editor

He then posted a few letters, but this is the one stood out to me:

In the South where I grew up, a white man could pick a fight with a black man for no good reason, shoot him dead, claim self-defense and get away with it.

Things are different now. Haven't you heard?

Ronald Webster

Long Beach

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Teen: "Before #Trayvon, we didn't have that kind of feeling of injustice." Plus VIDEO of Tracy Martin.

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tracy martin at rally trayvon

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Demonstrators are participating in nationwide “Justice for Trayvon” rallies, and as of this writing, despite what you may hear from the trolls among us, the gatherings have been 100% peaceful.

Responding to the trial, Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks had a great piece up last week, “Heartsick and numb over the Zimmerman verdict… George Zimmerman’s paranoia became Trayvon Martin’s crime.”

Today's column was equally insightful and covers a relevant topic that I haven't seen mentioned in depth anywhere else: Teen protesters and how they differ from their protesting predecessors. Their mindset and needs differ from those who marched before them for a number of reasons that she explains beautifully.

They feel they are not being listened to by adults. Banks points out how their civil rights battle is different from previous ones, and how they see don't see Trayvon Martin as "a product of centuries of racial injustice or a cry for policy changes," but for them, this is more of a cultural issue about how they dress and look, about guns, and about being profiled because they are young and black.

She makes it clear that "youths ache for adults to let them speak for themselves."

President Obama said this yesterday:

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain...

So -- so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or -- and that context is being denied. And -- and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. ...

We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

Sandy Banks takes it from there. Quoting Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who heads the Community Coalition who has worked with hundreds of young people in that education and community program:

"This is not your grandmother's civil rights movement … walking slowly, carrying signs... They don't do things the way we do. And we don't know how to organize or control it."

Banks also quoted Timothy, 16, who has been working with the coalition:

"We see the adults talking for us, and we don't really get a chance to be at the forefront. Then when we do get a chance, it comes out kind of violent, like we saw on Monday night."

The civil rights establishment is going to have to change its tactics and its focus to get this younger generation on board.

"Everybody who was born after the riots, we've never really been through this," Timothy pointed out. "Before Trayvon Martin, we didn't have that kind of feeling of injustice."

Banks ends with this:

They're more concerned with getting guns off the streets than putting Zimmerman on trial again. And they don't need to gather in Leimert Park, when they've got hundreds of like-minded friends as near as the apps on their cellphones.

The people of this country have a lot to learn, but only if they're willing, would pay attention, and would take the time.

Please read the entire article here.

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"Is lesson from 'stand your ground' states that those who shoot only people of color will probably get away with it?"

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zimmerman with lawyer trayvon smaller

I don't agree with everything said in these letters, but some important points were made that I do support wholeheartedly. With that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Acquittal in Martin's slaying called 'wake-up call,'" July 18

White people who kill black people in states with "stand your ground" laws such as Florida are 354% more likely to be found justified in their killing than when a white person kills another white person, according to a study analyzing FBI data conducted by John Roman, a senior analyst at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center. Roman examined about 5,000 homicides and used only killings in which there was a single shooter and a single victim, both of whom were strangers to each other.

Is the lesson from "stand your ground" states that those who shoot only people of color will probably get away with it?

It's time to reconsider "stand your ground" laws.

Ann Reiss Lane

Los Angeles

The writer is the founder of Women Against Gun Violence.

***

I'm getting tired of watching Al Sharpton and other activists spend their energy and time stirring up the African American community with sharp words condemning the rest of the country.

If leaders like Sharpton care about something other than their self-aggrandizement, I suggest they do something peaceful and effective: They should use their ability to gather thousands of protesters at a time to demonstrate against what they feel is an injustice and set up voter registration tables at their rallies. And when the time comes, they ought to use their considerable oratorical talents to turn out the African American community vote.

That's where their power is, not in rallies that accomplish nothing but gaining media attention.

Lou Del Pozzo

Pacific Palisades

***

Stevie Wonder has said he will not perform in states with "stand your ground" laws. Instead of boycotting these states, I would love to see Wonder put on fundraising concerts in Florida and elsewhere to help overturn "stand your ground" laws, minimum sentencing laws and other statutes that put our young men of color at great risk.

This tragedy should be turned into a movement for change.

Alice P. Neuhauser

Manhattan Beach

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Post-racial? Group posts "Official Race Baiters ID Card," "#Trayvon Martin protests against white gun owners" alert

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Al Sharpton race baiter card via Liberty Federation

So today, this happened: VIDEO: Obama speaks out on #Zimmerman verdict, race ” #Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” It was a powerful, sensitive, heartfelt effort to have a meaningful dialog with
America about race, keeping our kids safe, improved communication, and how to be more pro-active in the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict.

This happened, too: The so-called "National Liberty Federation" posted the above image on their website. They also felt the need to include this panicky, paranoid alert (bolding mine):

Trouble is brewing.  Stay away from these areas.  This is the latest list of locations for the Trayvon Martin protests against white gun owners, American courts, jury verdicts, and the Rule of Law. [...]

PLEASE TAKE ALL APPROPRIATE AND LEGAL STEPS TO PROTECT AND PROVISION YOUR FAMILIES DUE TO THE HIGH PROBABILITY OF NATIONAL CIVIL UNREST CAUSED BY AL SHARPTON.

Then they listed a number of locations around the country and warn their readers urgently to "avoid these areas." Here are a couple of comments left under the post:

Jane Scroggins:

They are determined to start a race war. A Hispanic kills a black thug and it is the white gun owners fault? And the jury said the Hispanic was innocent! Sure beats Obama having to answer for Benghazi, the IRS, the NSA and the economy!

Joe Fioretti:

Just saw obama the instigator on TV. Instead of warning the gangsters not to riot, he empathized with Black males and in essence condoned their violence. If I were a Black male and listened to his “speech”, I would feel compelled to take to the streets and act out violently. At 12% of the population, this idiot is advocating a race war and the annihilation of his people.

See how outreachy these "patriots" are? They really ought to take a peek at this video from the Rachel Maddow Show: “Be afraid, white people! The black people are coming for you!” 

Post-racial America, my ass.

post racial

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Entire VIDEO: Obama speaks out on #Zimmerman verdict, race " #Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

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Pres Obama on Trayvon

Excerpts from President Obama's remarks, via WaPo:

Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.

There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of being followed in a department store. That includes me.

As difficult and challenging as this episode has been, things are getting better.

Malia and Sasha's friends... They’re better than we are, they’re better than we were, on these issues. And that’s true at every community I’ve visited across this country.

We should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did. And along this long journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union, not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

He said he wanted to pursue a “long-term project” of “thinking about how to bolster and reinforce African American kids. There are a lot of kids out there that need help, that are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.”

And individual Americans, he said, would have to “do some soul-searching” about their own inherent racial biases, and ask, “Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?”

In a surprise presser, President Obama spoke about and personalized the Trayvon Martin killing, the Zimmerman verdict, and the reluctance to have a substantive conversation on race in this country. He was sensitive, presidential, and thoughtful.

It was huge. It was overwhelming, and the TV commentators were nearly speechless immediately following the speech. Many of us teared up, and IMHO, he opened the door to a whole lot of analysis and self-examination. What a shame that it was inspired by another ugly tragedy.

As @JaniceGW tweeted to me:

And of course, the trolls will have a field day. Get your block buttons ready.

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#Zimmerman trial fallout: "What we're trying to say to America is: All is not well." Ya think?

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post racial

Per the Los Angeles Times, Dale Charles, president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, believes George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin. Join the club, Dale. Here's the money quote:

"What we're trying to say to America is: All is not well."

I couldn't have understated it better myself.

In the same article, Rev. Al Sharpton said that the "stand your ground" laws are "the worst violation of civil rights, of state law, in this country." I'd add the gutting of the Voting Rights Act to that.

No, America, all is not well. Convicting the victim in the court of public opinion is not well. Killing a teenager because he was walking home in the rain with his sweatshirt hood up for warmth and protection is not well. A juror referring to Trayvon Martin's killer as "Georgie" is not well. A defense attorney calling the killer "innocent" is not only not well, it's legally incorrect. "Not guilty" does not equate to innocence: Law School 1o1.

All is so not well that I go to bed at night and wake up in the morning with knots in my stomach and tears in my eyes. And if I, a white woman, feel that way, I can't even begin to comprehend the deep pain, sorrow, frustration, sense of injustice, and anger black Americans feel. Take Trayvon's parents, for example. Via the L.A. Times:

Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, said in a "CBS This Morning" interview that she was "stunned absolutely" by the not-guilty verdict handed down Saturday by the six-woman jury in Seminole County, Fla.

"I thought surely that he [Zimmerman] would be found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter at the least," Fulton said. "But I just knew that they would see that this was a teenager just trying to get home. This was no burglar. This was somebody's son that was trying to get home."

In the same interview with CBS, Martin's father, Tracy Martin, said he wanted Americans to know "that Trayvon was a fun-loving child. He was our child. We miss him dearly."

Martin added, "Just to have your child's life taken away from you like that, it hurts. And it's a process that will take a long time to start the recovery from. [...] Forgiveness takes time. The healing process is a long process and the forgiving process is a long process..."

My father recently died of natural causes, and I'm still reeling from that. If one of my sons had his life cut short at the hands of a George Zimmerman, it would devastate me beyond words, beyond imagination.

I'm also reeling from the onslaught of hostility and racism that have been zooming around social media these days. I'm regularly appalled by the prevalence of racial discrimination in our voting system, in lawmaking, in law enforcement, in tweets, in public comments in way too many venues, with increasing frequency, temerity, and intensity.

The utter contempt by these (often) illiterate, vile, emboldened bigots for others is stunning. It's not uncommon for someone to hurl the c**t word at me, or try to use "dyke" as a pejorative, simply because they disagree with me. Anything ending in "tard" seems to be one of the most popular default insults, and "Suck my conservative c**k" was tweeted to me the other day. Why? Because I tweeted a pro-Trayvon message to the Twitterverse.

These bottom-feeders may be a minority (how ironic is that?), but their despicable troll-y presence is felt by most political commentators (and others) with alarmingly regularity. They are also suspended regularly, but they open new accounts and start all over again. I could go on about trolls here on TPC and in social media in general, but that's another post for another time.

What matters is that such savagely antagonistic types are being fueled by the actions of killers like Zimmerman (and mind-boggling legal decisions... see: Alexander, Marissa) who feel justified in not only in spewing their hate, but also in supporting and engaging in violence.

They're being fueled by terrified, cowardly white people who feel threatened by their shrinking majority status and all those not-white people "taking over" (see: Negrophobia, Rachel Maddow video: “Be afraid, white people! The black people are coming for you!”).

They're being fueled by ALEC, the gun industry, and the NRA, all enthusiastic backers of Florida's "stand your ground" law.

As a result, they're more brazenly acting on their irrational fears.

Post-racial America? Get real.

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