Friday, February 21, 2014
Jurors 4 and 8 Are Wrong: The Michael Dunn Trial Was All About Race
I listened to the interviews of jurors 4 and 8 on Nightline and CNN, respectively. Both jurors stated that they voted to convict Michael Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis. Juror 4, who is white, stated that she believes that Michael Dunn got away with murder. In the end, nine jurors wanted to convict Michael Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis. Three jurors wanted to acquit Michael Dunn of the murder charge.
Both jurors essentially stated that race was not a factor in the case. Juror 8, who is African American, stated that she "never thought once, 'This was a black kid. This was a white guy.'" She said that the case "was about justice," not race. When asked if race was a factor in the case, juror 4 said, "Sitting in that room, it was never presented that way." To a certain extent, she is correct. The prosecution and the parents never discussed the huge elephant in the room, race.
Although I commend jurors 4 and 8 for their commitment and fairness, I strongly reject the notion that this case was not about race. This case was about race on at least two levels. The first level is the actual crime. This case is about a racist white man who wanted to teach some young black "thugs" a lesson for not obeying his orders to turn their "thug music". Such racial animus is further expressed in his jail letters complaining about thugs. The word "thug" is simply a more palatable word for nigger.
The second level is the verdict. Like the Trayvon Martin case, the Amadou Diallo case, the Sean Bell case, the Emmett Till case and countless other cases, the Michael Dunn case is yet another example of black man being murdered and denied justice, at least for now. If no one else was in that vehicle, Michael Dunn would be free today.
From the time of the classic American film, Birth of a Nation, until today's modern hip hop era, the African American male has been depicted as a public enemy, a threat, a menace, a predator, an animal, a criminal and a danger. As a result of such programming, many people are willing to accept unsubstantiated narratives that conform to those negative stereotypes of black men.
In this case, there were three young black men in the car with Jordan Davis at the time of the shooting. They all testified that there was no gun in their vehicle. There was no object in the car that could be reasonably mistaken for a gun. Witnesses testified that they did not see anyone in Davis' vehicle discard or hide a firearm. The police did not recover a firearm.
Moreover, immediately following the shooting, Dunn never mentioned to his fiance that Davis threatened him with that imaginary weapon. Oddly, Dunn testified that he continued to fear for his safety immediately after the shooting. Yet, he never called the police. Instead, he returned to his hotel room, ordered pizza, had a few drinks, watched a movie and went to sleep. That substantially undermines his creditability.
Nonetheless, none of that matters. For some, including the three holdout jurors in this case, one white man's testimony carries more weight than three young black men's testimony. Unfortunately, when some white people are presented with narratives that conform to their racist stereotypes about young black men, logic is negated and discarded. If Jordan Davis was a white boy or white girl, no juror would believe Dunn's lie about seeing a gun. Again, this case was all about race.