So the Dunn jury couldn’t come to a verdict on the killing of Jordan Davis, and the judge declared a mistrial. Some folks are trying to put lipstick on this pig by taking a glass-half-full view of the fact Dunn was convicted of attempted murder of the other kids in the vehicle, and will likely be given a lengthy prison sentence regardless of the eventual outcome of the murder charge.
But the jury could not have been hung unless at least one member of the panel was so thoroughly convinced of Dunn’s claim that Davis had put him in mortal jeopardy that they could not be moved off of that conclusion. Which is absolutely outrageous, since Dunn’s story is clearly transparent bull-shit contradicted by all the other testimony and the physical evidence.
From which I must draw at least two disturbing conclusions:
1. Irrational bigotry, gun lunacy, or the combination thereof remain common enough in Florida that folks with these afflictions are probably going to wind up in every jury pool.
2. Even after the Zimmerman debacle, Conservative prosecutors like Angela Corey remain too chicken-shit to aggressively attempt to weed out the above during voir dire, or to raise the issue of racial intolerance at trial, lest they alienate the wing-nut base of their political allies and patrons (e.g. in this case, FL Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott).
Over on Xena’s blog, Rachael said “I’m glad he didn’t walk.” and then asked, “But is that enough?” I re-post my reply below:
No, it’s not enough.
For that matter, a conviction of Michael Dunn on M1 wouldn’t be enough either.
After all, what we’re talking about here most likely occurred because one or two die-hard bigots and/or gun nuts got onto the jury. A different roll of the dice in terms of who came up in the jury pool could have yielded a different result. But the larger conditions remain the same, and therein lies the problem.
Dunn is a nobody, mere human detritus, and his individual punishment means next to nothing in the big picture. In order to begin to approach “enough” we would need to see some changes in at least one of the various big-picture issues in play here:
a. Persistent wide-spread racist stereotyping of all young Black men as “thugs”.
b. The pernicious influence of the gun lobby and ALEC.
c. The ludicrous self-defense statutes promoted by the above.
d. The ideological orientations that prevent right-wing State Attorneys (e.g. Corey, Guy, et. al.) from prosecuting cases like the Dunn and Zimmerman trials effectively.
While race is obviously a big part of this, IMHO it’s very important to recognize a big part of this, the gun part, is NOT about race at all. The gun lobby wants profit, and like any endeavor ruled by the profit motive, they don’t care where the profit comes from. They would like nothing better for the “lesson” young black men take away from Davis’ death to be, “Damn, Jordan SHOULDA had a shotgun. If I’m going to survive daily life in this sea of gun-crazy crackers, I’d better be able to fight fire with fire.” Whoopee! More gun sales. Back to the Wild West when everybody was packing, no, better than that because in old Tombstone and Dodge it was just all the grown white men who were strapped, and now we’re gonna get EVERYBODY: all the men, women, boys and girls; white, black, brown, yellow, red; straight, gay, trans. No matter what your style, we have a gun for YOU.
The Zimmerman and Dunn trials establish precedent in the public mind if not case law that Florida actually encourages lethal armed response to confrontations. This not only legitimates white-on-black violence (which probably makes up a fairly low percentage of overall violence) but also violence within more homogenous communities. Got a beef with your neighbor, take your gun. Got a beef with your lover or spouse, take your gun. I don’t remember the details or numbers, but I recall hearing that since SYG was passed self-defense acquittals have gone way up, and murder convictions have dropped accordingly. So we have many, many cases that may have involved killers getting off with defenses as thin as GZ’s or Dunn’s, but they never made the news because they lacked the hot-button dramatic appeal of tweaking the racial divide. And with the publicity from the high-profile trials establishing that shoot-first-and-figure-out-your-story-later works, things are only going to get worse. Everywhere, For everybody.
So, yeah, the outcome of Dunn’s case has some symbolic significance in all of this. The big picture will indeed get worse if he is not convicted on re-trial. But the best a conviction can bring is to slow the bleeding (figuratively and literally). Action in a broader sphere will be required to begin to fix the problems, begin to heal the wounds. The Martin and Davis families seem to understand this, as their focus appears to be on the SYG laws more than the fates of the individuals who killed their sons. Alas, that doesn’t seem to draw the same kind of media attention and public interest that accrue when you can point at embodied and individually detestable villains like GZ and Dunn. But IMHO, it’s time to stop obsessing about the leaves, and start looking at who’s planting what trees in the forest.