Saturday evening a jury in Jacksonville, Florida returned a verdict in the case of Michael David Dunn who was accused of killing 16-year-old Jordan Russell Davis because he (Davis) was playing his music too loud in his car as far as Dunn was concerned.
Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network:
“We are deeply disappointed by the verdict in the case of Michael Dunn. Though he was convicted for attempted murder and shooting into the car, the value of Jordan Davis’ life was not addressed in this verdict. The mistrial further sends a chilling effect to parents in the twenty-three states that have the Stand Your Ground law or laws similar. It requires the Civil Rights community to head into Florida, which is now ground zero for a National fight to change that law. From Trayvon Martin to Jordan Davis enough is enough. Our National board member Bishop Rudy Mckissick has been in the court room during the trial, including tonight representing us and supporting the family; sharing with them our prayers as we join them in pursuing justice and the ending the Stand Your Ground law.”
Statement of Sherrilyn Ifill, President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.:
“The shooting of seventeen-year-old Jordan Davis marked yet another tragic and senseless death of an unarmed, innocent, African-American teenager. Rather than seeing Jordan or his friends for what they were — ordinary teenagers — Mr. Dunn saw a threat and recklessly acted with lethal force.
“We will never know exactly what Mr. Dunn was thinking when he fired nine rounds at Jordan and his friends, but we have some very strong clues. We know that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law emboldens people to take matters into their own hands and use deadly force, despite the absence of a threat, let alone a weapon. We know that letters he wrote from jail while awaiting trial provide insight about his thoughts on race and who he perceived to be a criminal. In one, he mentioned that “This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs.” He went on to write: “This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these [expletive] idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.” Finally, we know that the criminalization and demonization of African-Americans -and especially African-American men and boys- is deeply rooted in our nation’s history.
The verdict in Mr. Dunn’s trial does not change the fact that the same pernicious biases and stereotypes about race, and dangerousness that led to Trayvon Martin’s death played a central role in Jordan’s death as well. We all must work to roll back laws like “Stand Your Ground,” which foster violence and make it harder to prosecute many murders in which racial bias played a role. We all must work tirelessly for a society in which people are never targeted and criminalized for the color of their skin. We all must continue to struggle for an America that is free from racial discrimination and embraces the moral imperative of racial equality. LDF has worked and continues to work to achieve these goals since our earliest days. By doing so, we and pay tribute to Jordan Davis’ life while helping to heal the deep wounds his tragic death has left behind.”
Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State NAACP:
“The State of Florida has spoken and 47-year old Michael Dunn will have to answer for some of his crimes relating to having opened fire on an SUV filled with unarmed black teenagers. Today a jury convicted Dunn on four counts for the attempted murder of Tevin Thompson, Leland Brunson, and Tommy Storns, the three teens in the car with Jordan. The judge declared mistrial on the count of first-degree murder that applied to the death of Jordan Davis.
While prosecutors have stated they will retry Michael Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis, there are no winners in this case. Two parents will forever remain without their only son; three other young men had their lives changed forever and the State of Florida and the country as a whole is left to deal with yet another senseless murder of an innocent young man whose life was cut short for no other reason than the color of his skin. Young, black men are not thugs or suspicious by definition; and this important verdict reconfirms that those who commit crimes based on those misplaced preconceptions will not go unpunished.
The NAACP will continue to push for a change in the laws that make these types of crimes more prevalent and the punishment for their commission, less likely. Stand Your Ground laws create an environment that places far too many people, especially young African-American men, at risk of losing their lives as a result of nothing more than the perception that someone “feels” threatened. The only possible result of assigning life and death decision-making authority to anyone with a gun is the unnecessary loss of innocent lives.
The NAACP will continue to work with the State of Florida and the other 33 states across the country who currently maintain some form of stand your ground law to repeal these inherently discriminatory laws. People should be allowed to live without constant fear that their lives are at risk just because of someone’s offensive- often race-based—perception. Inappropriate stereotyping should not carry a penalty of death for black youth.”
Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director:
“This case is a perfect example of how stand your ground laws are illogical and often lead to tragic outcomes, especially to people of color who often end up on the wrong side of the weapon,” stated Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director. To help prevent future tragedies such as the death of Jordan Davis, we must repeal stand your grounds laws and bring back common sense self-defense policies in every state across this country.”
Kevin Myles, NAACP Region 5 Director:
“I’m happy that Michael Dunn will now be off the streets, but my heart is heavy for that fact that he was not held accountable for the young life he stole.