As Michael Dunn held up his hands in disbelief at the outcome of his murder trial, it was a picture perfect situation where someone could write their own caption. What just happened? Dunn was convicted on three counts of second-degree attempted murder, which is one count for each survivor. But the jury could not come to a decision on the more serious first degree murder charge. Essentially, what the jury said is that a person can be found guilty of attempted murder for firing a gun into a SUV filled with unarmed teenagers, but a death that results from that illegal act goes unpunished. The Michael Dunn trial, also known as the “Loud Music Trial”, ended anti-climatically. A second trial on that count of first-degree murder could be brought again later this year. The incident in and of itself is tragic. A young man is dead and his family now has to move on without him. However, the Michael Dunn loud music trial may have a deeper meaning that could leave many Americans silent from shock.
On the night of November 23, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida, an argument occurred over loud rap music. Amongst the spent bullet casings and gun smoke, a young life was lost. Jordan Davis, 17 was dead. His murderer, Michael Dunn, 47, would continue shooting at the SUV carrying three other teens.
Fast forward to February 15, 2014 and a jury of Dunn’s peers, eight whites, two blacks, an Asian and a Hispanic, displayed some very scary logic in their inability to convict him on the more severe charge. Simply put, if Dunn had killed the other teens in the vehicle perhaps he could have gotten away scot-free. It sounds crazy, but how else can it be explained?
It was just 120 miles away in Sanford, Florida where another controversial case involving a gun and the death of a young black male would set the country on fire. The irony that this type of tragedy would happen so soon after the Trayvon Martin tragedy speaks volumes to where this country is as a society. Look at the similarities. Older men, of white descent, confront young black men about what those young men are supposed to be doing or even where they belong. Both cases have trivial elements such as Skittles and loud rap music. Loud rap music and Michael Dunn’s hatred of it should not lead to a trial or a death. Any thinking person should be left silent in disbelief over this.
It seems that America is afraid of young black men.
In the blind rush of that fear, every move or word could be considered a threat. With more guns landing in the hands of tax-paying citizens, there’s a situation where the fear of the young black man can be abated and extinguished by fire from a gun barrel. A lot of people are quick to blame the state of Florida and the Stand Your Ground law, but its bigger than just Florida and any one law. Dunn and his lawyers never invoked the law, but did claim self-defense. The Dunn trial put some very important issues on the table to be discussed. This trial can be the event that points to a deeper meaning that shows how to America should govern itself.
Nineteen states have joined a legal fight in support of carrying concealed weapons. Florida is one of the nineteen. Places like Chicago, Illinois are dealing with their own conceal and carry gun laws. Imagine a city like Chicago, where there has been lots of violence and has a huge number of black teens. With the self-defense claims as a ready excuse, along with loaded guns, Chicago and cities around the nation could soon resemble the Wild West.
Not every black teen is a thug and not every white gun owner is a murderer but the state of things has gotten to a dangerous point. To keep from losing another life, there has to be some drastic decisions on America wants to operate as a society. The end result could be more young black males dying, just like Trayvon Martin, just like Jordan Davis.
This trial could be a chance to make life in America better. It can give America the chance to have conversations about race and guns. The potential of the so-called Michael Dunn loud music trial could give the country a voice to speak out or leave many Americans silent and watching as another tragedy occurs.
Editorial by Tony Bowers
New York Times