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Michael Dunn Verdict: There Are No Winners in this Case

Jordan Davis, 17 (R) an unarmed teenager received 10 bullet wounds from 47-year-old Michael Dunn, a white software engineer., on Nov. 23, 2012, during an argument sparked by the volume of rap music pumping out of an SUV at a Jacksonville gas station. (Photo Courtesy of Atlantablackstar.com)

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. To help prevent future tragedies such as the death of Jordan Davis, we must repeal ‘Stand Your Ground’ 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. That said, I applaud the prosecutor’s decision to retry the first degree murder charge and look forward to justice being served.”

John R. Hatcher, III,  NAACP Ventura County Chapter President:
“The problem with the law in Florida is that if you are a young black person in Florida, all that a white person with a gun has to say is that I am afraid of you and they can kill you. That is stupid, but that is Florida’s law.”
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 [Legal Defense Fund] 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.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost law firm fighting for racial justice in America. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who became the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, LDF’s mission is to achieve racial equality and an inclusive society.

LDF has been a separate entity from the NAACP since 1957. Therefore, if you need to shorten the name please refer to the organization as “Legal Defense Fund” or “NAACP Legal Defense Fund.” More information about LDF is available at www.naacpldf.org.

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