Last Saturday, Renisha McBride became stranded after a car accident in a suburban neighborhood in Detroit. Her cellphone battery was dead, so she went to the nearest house and knocked on the door, planning to ask for help. Instead, unprovoked, the owner of the house fatally shot her in the head.1
It seems like nothing could more blatantly lead to an arrest. But here's the thing: Michigan is one of the 30 states that has a "Stand Your Ground" Law.2 Like in the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin in Florida, gun-owners in Michigan are allowed to "shoot first" if they feel someone poses a threat.
In this case, Renisha's killer is claiming he shot her in the face by accident, because he thought she could be a burglar. He has not been arrested.
No one should have to fear getting shot when asking for help. That's why we're supporting the Detroit NAACP's call for an end to the violence--starting with a full investigation of Renisha's murder.3
The man who shot Renisha probably did see her as threatening--she was a black teen in a majority white neighborhood, just like Trayvon Martin.
Investigations have shown that when the victim is black, people are more likely to use "Stand Your Ground" as a defense.4 Nobody should have to fear that the color of their skin makes them a target. Nobody should have to teach their children not to walk in certain neighborhoods because someone might label them "suspicious" and get away with murder.
We know from the Trayvon Martin case that it can take national outcry before an investigation is even launched. And last night, people from all across Detroit stood outside police headquarters calling for justice.5 If all 500,000 of us from across the country join them, the Prosecutor won't be able to ignore our voices.
There's nothing we can do to change the horrible night that brought Renisha's life to an end. But we can make sure no one gets away with that kind of senseless violence again. Can you join us in honoring the life of Renisha and calling for a full investigation?
Thanks for standing up for Renisha.
--Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Malinda, Adam, and Gabriela, the UltraViolet team
1. Renisha McBride, Detroit woman, shot to death while seeking help after a car accident, CBS News, Nov 7, 2013
2. Everything you need to know about Stand Your Ground laws, Washington Post, July 15, 2013
3. Detroit NAACP official press statement, Nov 7, 2013
4. Civil Rights Commission will probe Stand Your Ground laws for racial bias, Daily Kos, June 4, 2012
5. Questions swirl around woman's shooting death on porch, USA Today, Nov 8, 2013