The problem is not the Stand Your Ground law. It’s with its application.
A cowardly predator like George Zimmerman can hide behind the statute, but, Marissa Alexander got 20 years. This is, as anyone can tell you, because Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, a young Black man and Marissa Alexander is a Black woman. That is why the law worked for Zimmerman and did not work for Alexander, sent her to jail for protecting herself, her home and her children from her abusive ex.
Thirty-one-year-old Marissa Alexander, when her violent husband came over, acting up, fired a warning shot from a pistol. She might well have been better off blowing his brains out and pleading insanity, diminished capacity or something along those lines. She’d’ve had a better chance than going with the truth. The man had a history of hurting her.
Over the course of roughly a year he punched and choked her several different times. Hell, she should’ve shot him then. In that light, frankly, she exercised admirable restraint. She exercised it, though, in what has, since the first stolen Bush election, shown itself to be one of the most virulently racists state in the union.
There is no good reason Alexander should be locked up for 10 minutes, let alone 20 years. She was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. How the hell can she even be charged with — much less convicted of — assault if she didn’t aim the weapon at him? She wasn’t trying to harm anyone, she was trying to get this moron’s attention and let him know she was done taking his stuff.
Marissa Alexander did not have a criminal record before this. For all we know she had not so much as an unpaid parking ticket. That, in and of itself, speaks to her character and whether the woman belongs behind bars. She had been a law-abiding citizen all her life until her back was pushed to the wall. And she did what we would admire any mother in the wild for doing, protecting her young.
Think about it. That jury and judge didn’t give her the same benefit of the doubt they would have an animal. It couldn’t be any clearer that she was railroaded, that she is a Black woman who was victimized by a blatantly backward, ethically-bankrupt system of institutionalized racism.
Why hasn’t our bright, shining Black president pardoned her? Why hasn’t his bright, shining first lady said so much as a mumbling word about this glaring injustice? Because they are too busy being honorary White folk is why.
The troubles of Black people — the constituency that put them in the White House — simply don’t matter to Brotha Barack and Sistah Michelle. Change we can believe in. Sure.
Marissa Alexander must still be in shock. She did the right thing and it turned out wrong as hell. She even had been trained in weapon use and had a concealed weapons permit. How much more correctly could she have gone about things?
If Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick, for instance, instead of boycotting Florida (like as the world was going to show up at a concert by either one), they should set up camp on the White House lawn and give a marathon performance right there, refusing to stop until that one particular do-nothing politicians reaches in his pocket for a pen and signs that damned pardon for this woman. And then put his foot in the behind of Florida’s governor and its legislature.
To have the law applied sensibly, make no mistake, it can be done. Wonder, Warwick and the rest of us, though, need to embarrass Barack Obama so badly, he finally starts acting like the Black president he was elected to be.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.