Why Didn’t Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground Ethics Apply to Marissa Alexander? [Reader Forum]

Readers discuss the race politics of Alexander's 20-year sentence for firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-husband.

By Channing Kennedy May 21, 2012

Last Friday, a judge in Florida denied a motion to re-try a case under the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law. But the defendant wasn’t George Zimmerman — it was **Marissa Alexander**, a 31-year-old black woman with a Ph.D. Alexander fired a gun at a wall to scare off her abusive ex-husband, a gun she left the room to get, and has now been [found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault.](http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/05/florida_black_woman_gets_20_years_after_failed_stand_your_ground_defense.html) Which, in Florida, carries a minimum 20-year sentence, which the judge let stand. **Jorge Rivas** has more at [Colorlines.com/Now](http://Colorlines.com/Now), and the Colorlines community had plenty to say about it, especially in the slow move towards justice for Trayvon Martin. Here’s what you had to say. **Lavada Lindsey:** > Really, people? She should have just let him attack her, right? The important detail is that no one was hurt… Why on earth would people think that she deserves 20 years for shooting at a ceiling… It’s called a warning shot… it did the trick, he left her alone. It was self defense, and rational… we should be grateful that she was able to leave unhurt and without hurting anyone else… > > What about all of the women who leave abusive spouses only to be caught, beaten, killed, etc. … We are not supposed to stand up for ourselves? Now she’s in prison and he’s able to go on and abuse other women… > > […] No one was murdered in this case, she was immediately arrested and given 20 FREAKING YEARS!!!! Come on, it took Zimmerman over 40 days to be arrested and only because the public put pressure on the justice system to do something about it. And both cases happened in the state of Florida… It just goes to show that the law doesn’t get applied equally… I feel for this woman and her children. **Bonnie Garcia:** > As a survivor of abuse, unless you have lived it, don’t judge… funny, here’s a case where she is protecting herself… Zimmerman straight murdered Trayvon Martin and watch, he is gonna walk. **Mia Camen:** > While the entire set of events are sad, she would’ve got off had she had the gun on her person and shot him. What I’m understanding is that she left the scene to get the gun and shot in the air (not at him as others have said). Our entire judicial system needs an overhaul. **William Dean Luke:** > It’s because she’s black. simple as that. Had she been white, she’d not have been arrested, her husband would have been, for domestic abuse. She fires a warning shot to preserve her life and gets 20 years immediately… and Zimmerman kills an unarmed boy in cold blood and doesn’t get arrested for 46 days? Yeah. You try and tell me it’s not about race. > > You can also tell her husband is a lying piece of shit because he changed his story twice. First he says "She shot at me and the kids", then he says "Naw, she fired a warning shot to scare me cause I was probably gonna put hands on her." then he changed it again and said "Oh, I lied. I just wanted to protect her." […] I’d like to know the name of the judge presiding over the case. The judge had the ability to overturn that stupid 20-life thing, but chose not to. I also think there needs to be national spotlight on this event, to raise awareness for the continuing bullshittery going on in Florida. > > Florida has been miscarrying justice since the ’70s, when they let Luis Posada and Joseph Carilles (the two responsible for the Cuban airliner being shot down off the coast) stay in Florida with immunity. Neither of them faced charges or were imprisoned for their crimes. they were pardoned. It’s the only state I know of where the CRIMINALS constantly get light sentences handed down, while good people who want bad people to leave them the fuck alone get thrown in prison for doing what nobody else has the balls to do. **Nakita D. Swanigan:** > It’s not easier to leave an abuser. On average a woman will leave 7 times, 7, before getting away. And then there are women who wind up like Lavada said. Educate yourself; don’t be showing your ignorance. **JV:** > No mention is made of the skin color of the jury which deliberated for all of 12 minutes to convict her (??) > > […] No conclusion without information, but the unfortunately too common statistic is that of an all white, or nearly all white jury passing down a conviction on a black person or Latino person, or person of color. This case seems to also involve sexism and possibly classism) as well, given the disparate criminal justice treatment of Mr. Zimmerman, a male coming from a family of at least middle income class, and Ms. Alexander, a woman (not sure about income level). My main point though is that the idea of a trial by a jury of one’s peers too often is biased by the unexamined stereotypes of race, gender, and class held by jurists. **Yis Leibowitz:** > 12 minutes?! Did she get even close to a fair testimony? Nay, was she able to open her mouth? The judge looks pretty adamant, indeed passionate, in the video. I wonder what kind of motivation it takes to decide that quickly that Marissa Alexander deserves 20 years in prison. She is a black woman, criminalized for trying to protect herself against an abusive husband. And no, abusive does not mean she must betray physical bruises. Abusive may mean that she is relegated to a life of total fear because a domineering man threatens and controls her. She may be scared that if she verbally contradicts him… well, she may not want to know the consequences. The weapon was a resort, whether a last resort or an impulsive decision, and no one knows whether or not she fired out of necessity because no one could possibly have fleshed out all of the pertinent details in 12 minutes! **Go Ca:** > Where was the outrage when a mandatory sentencing bill was passed? Everyone assumed that the people who would be targeted by the law were "inner city blacks" in Florida. So they stood by and said nothing. Why does it always take some extreme consequence of a law for people to get it into their heads "there but for the grace of God go I"?

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