George Zimmerman and Marissa Alexander


#1

While Zimmerman was found "not guilty" of the shooting of a young black man, Marissa Alexander was found guilty of shooting a gun into the air when she felt her life was in danger from her ex-husband. Few outlets are covering her case, while as noted elsewhere here, Zimmerman is getting wall to wall coverage (compared to Snowden). Here is one of the few pieces on Alexander's case, which compares it with Zimmerman's case:

Alexander v. Zimmerman

But racism is "over" right, because Obama? Yeah right.


#2
said she feared for her life when she fired a bullet into the wall of her home
had a protective order against her husband
No one was hurt in the shooting
Alexander had never been in trouble with the law before
Circuit Court Judge James Daniel said he wouldn’t allow for any circumstances to reduce the sentence below the 20-year minimum

Oh, good god.


#3

Twenty years is a ridiculous sentence, but there is more to that story.

She was estranged from her husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him, even though they'd had a baby together just nine days before. Thinking he was gone, she went to their former home to retrieve the rest of her clothes, family members said.

An argument ensued, and Alexander said she feared for her life when she went out to her vehicle and retrieved the gun she legally owned. She came back inside and ended up firing a shot into the wall, which ricocheted into the ceiling.

Gray testified that he saw Alexander point the gun at him and looked away before she fired the shot. He claims she was the aggressor, and he had begged her to put away the weapon.

So she had a restraining order against him, but went to where he was living. Better to ask someone neutral to retrieve your stuff in a situation like this, but I can definitely understand. Then it turns out he's home and they get into an argument. Also understandable. She goes outside to her car and should have driven away, but instead she gets her gun, goes back inside and fires it. No way does she deserve twenty years in prison for that, but those aren't exactly the circumstances I pictured when I first heard this story. The above quote was from this Huffington Post article.


#4

Whoops! Your link goes back to your comment... here is what you want: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/19/marissa-alexander-gets-20_n_1530035.html

Even so, the sentence is way out of proportion here, which you acknowledge. But it bears illumination, I think. If she was the victim of repeated abuse, it seems likely that she wasn't thinking straight and maybe intended to show him she meant business. Law enforcement kind of has a history of blaming women for their own abuse, and I doubt those biases have been exercised from the thin blue line. There are also cases upon cases where women did just what she did, took out a restraining order, only to be stalked, beaten, and murdered by those who claim that they loved them. Plus, this is a black woman to boot, who historically have been under both racial and gender oppression, with the two ideologies denying her the white woman's "privilege" putting her at greater risk for abuse from the system of racist and sexist oppression. Rarely were the abuses heaped upon black women taken seriously, in other words. I doubt any of this was far from her mind as she acted, to her mind, to defend herself and her child.

And have you ever sent someone to your house to find/get something for you? It's far easier to do it yourself, no? But it seems she went to what was once a shared house, with the expectation that he would be gone... she did not go to confront. And kid/s were present, it's not a stretch to think a man who would beat a woman would do the same to a kid... If she came back in with a gun, maybe she intended to warn him away from doing that?

I'd argue that these two cases do indeed reveal the uneven ways in which "justice" is doled out in this country, and they tend to favor the white and male, if not those with more resources to throw at the problem. This doesn't mean the same sort of openly racist trails we saw well into the 60s, but rather more subtle means of structuring privilege, including the passage of laws such as this.

Whatever the source of the disparity, a woman is gong to jail for having killed no one, and a man is walking free after having shot a teenaged boy. This hardly seems just.


#5

I'm not sure wtf happened with my link. I just pasted the link at the bottom of my comment. Discourse obviously figured out something about it to embed that snippet from it.

Just to be clear about my opinion on the 20-year sentence: that is a fucking travesty. Mandatory minimum sentences are bullshit. Cases like this are why judges used to have discretion in sentencing.

I don't know all the facts of the case, so the real story could quite easily be this. I know firsthand that bullies are very good at provoking their victims in ways that don't attract the attention of the authorities until the victim fights back. That would also fit with her being charged with domestic battery on him four months later. Or it could be the other way around with her being the abuser. Either way, with the way Florida law seems to work, she probably would have been better off actually shooting and killing him. I'd really rather not have the law give people an incentive to kill someone.

I've actually been sent to pick up stuff for a relative in a divorce situation involving kids. No abuse in that situation, but she really didn't want to take the chance that he might be there. In this case, Marissa Alexander could have had a 3rd party call ahead to arrange a time he wouldn't be there. Or drive over with someone neutral to go into the house first to see if he's there.

I haven't seen anything to indicate what the argument was about. If it was about him abusing the kids, I suspect that that would be mentioned. Because that would have made a much better defense.

This I think we can completely agree on.


#6

This is a bug on our end with oneboxing that url, we will fix. Apologies.


#7

That's because Ms. Alexander forgot the two most important rules of shooting at people in Florida:

  1. Make sure you kill them.
  2. Make sure you're white.

#8

Watch for Zimmerman in the future as constable probable cause.


#9

If we agree, why are we arguing? wink

For me, I think it's about that overall unjust outcome of both cases. It just seems.. wrong, you know. We can probably go around and around about the particulars of the case, but I just found so much amiss in both.


#10

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