One night before what would have been Jordan Davis' 19th birthday, a Florida jury has returned with a mistrial verdict for his killer, Michael Dunn, on the count of first-degree murder. Dunn, however, was found guilty on four charges — including three for attempted murder.
That's right — a white man killed an unarmed Black teenager and just got away with it, using Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" or "Shoot First" law as a deflective shield for this racially-motivated killing.1,2 It's a gripping comparison and a terrifying continuation of the injustice we saw with Trayvon Martin — with both murders taking place in the same state just months apart. We send our love to Jordan's family. While the jury was unable to adequately decide the fate of the man who killed their son, we hope that they will still find some peace.
In the years and months since Michael Dunn murdered 17-year old Jordan Russell Davis in cold blood at a convenience store in Jacksonville, his hostility towards Black folks has been made abundantly clear. In a letter to his daughter written from his jail cell while awaiting trial, he wrote, "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."3 Although not submitted as evidence in the trial, these letters paint a chilling portrait of a man consumed by racial bias, exacting vigilante justice on an unsuspecting — and unarmed — Black child.
Nearly 111,000 ColorOfChange members have called for an end to these laws that undermine public safety and give murderers the opportunity to walk free. "Shoot First" emboldens people like Michael Dunn to kill when and where they see fit and unless we end "Shoot First" laws, we will continue to witness tragedies like the one that took Jordan Davis away from his family. As we accelerate our efforts demanding that state governments oppose and repeal "Shoot First", we'll also urge federal officials to investigate how these laws protect and embolden those who commit hate crimes.
Thanks and Peace,
--Rashad, Matt, Aimée, William, Jamar and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
February 24th, 2014
1. "The Killing of Jordan Russell Davis," The Atlantic, 11-28-2012
2. "Black teen’s shooting revives ‘Stand Your Ground’ debate," MSNBC, 11-28-2012
3. "Jordan Davis' Shooter Rants About Killing 'Thugs' So They 'May Take The Hint And Change Their Behavior'" Huffington Post, 10-18-13