Last June, I ran across this headline and story by Katie Halper with AlterNet.
“Black Woman Gets 20 Years for Firing Shot at Wall: White Man Gets 0 Years for Shooting Man in the Back 3 Times, Killing Him”
I decided to research and was shocked with what I found:
Here’s how the Stand Your Ground Laws and general laws in Florida are working out:
*If you’re a white man, and you kill a teenager you suspect is a criminal, you can go free.
*If you’re a white man, and kill a man you catch cheating with your wife, you can go free.
*If you violently abuse your wife and have a record of domestic abuse, you can go free.
*But if you’re a young black woman, and you fire a warning shot to scare off a physically abusive husband who’s aggressively coming at you, after saying, “If I can’t have you, no one will,” then you get to go to prison for 20 years. If you had killed him instead – you would have gone free.
There are so many things wrong here I’m not sure where to begin, but racism, sexism, and bigotry jump right to the top of the list. And I think it’s fair to say, given these examples, the laws work for some, but not others…
On July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman received a not guilty verdict for the murder of Trayvon Martin. In February 2012, while playing ‘cop’ as a neighborhood watch captain, Zimmerman stalked Martin, got into a physical altercation with the teenager, and shot Martin dead. George Zimmerman walked out of the Florida courtroom a free man. One of the jurors later came forward, and said she felt like Zimmerman got away with murder.
On March 10 2013, Ralph Wald, 70, got up in the middle of the night, saw his wife Johanna Lynn Flores, 41, in the living room, in the arms of his neighbor, Walter Conley, 32. Wald grabbed his gun and shot Conley in the back, three times, killing him. Ward later claimed he thought Conley, (a known lover of his wife) was raping her. He used the Stand Your Ground law to bypass justice. Then, only months later, 0n May 30, Ralph Wald walked out of court a free man.
On August 10, 2013, Rico Gray threatened the life of his wife, Marissa Alexander. He has a record of beating her and putting her in the hospital. There are many court statements against Gray describing his abuse. His former spouse made a statement that Gray kicked her in the stomach when she was pregnant. Marissa fired a warning shot this time after fearing for her life. Gray admitted Marissa did not fire at him and that he intended to hurt her. He walked out of court a free man.
Photo, L-R: George Zimmerman, Cory Grey, Ralph Wald, Marissa Alexander
It would seem nothing good could come from the above stories, but something did. The Zimmerman and Ward cases sparked renewed attention to one of most racist, sexist and unjust court cases Florida has known.
On August 10, 2010, Marissa Alexander, 31, only days after giving birth, fired a warning shot to stop her abusive husband. No one was hurt by this mother of three. She acted in self-defense. The courts, defying any kind of truth, justice, or sanity, sentenced Marissa Alexander to 20-years in prison. Within 12 minutes, the jury found her guilty of aggravated assault, even though her estranged abusive husband admitted in his deposition, she had every right to do what she did. In fact, Rico Gray, a 245-pound truck driver known and previously arrested for domestic violence, was now the so-called victim in this case. Before it went to trial Gray said, on record, the following:
“She’s a little person so it doesn’t take much for me to pick her up and tote her out my front door . . . You know, I pretty much picked her up and throwed her out.”
“I honestly think she just didn’t want me to put my hands on her anymore so she did what she feel like she have to do to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt, you know. You know, she did what she had to do.”
“The gun was never actually pointed at me. When she raised the gun down and raised it up, you know, the gun was never pointed at me. The fact is, you know . . . she never been violent toward me. I was always the one starting it. If she was violent toward me, it was because she was trying to get me up off her or stop me from doing.”
Rico Gray’s deposition was, in a sense, a confession, yet he walks free and Marissa Alexander remains behind bars. Gray changed his story during the trial. The judge in Alexander’s original case said Marissa could have fled but instead went into the garage, got a gun and fired a shot. Alexander claims the garage door was jammed and the only way out of the house was to go by Gray who was threatening her. She was offered a plea bargain of three years, yet only had a few hours to decide. Alexander felt she was innocent and turned it down. The courts gave her 20 years.
In September of 2013, after years of protests and a new legal team, Marissa Alexander’s case was overturned and she was issued a new trial. Many now ask why should Marissa Alexander be put through another trial? They want the case dropped all together and Marissa reunited with her children.
For more information and ways to help please visit: Free Marissa Now:
Here are ways the public can help right now. Contact:
Pam Bondi, Attorney General
Fax: 850-410-1630 * Email:
Rick Scott, Governor
Phone: 850-717-9337 or 850-488-7146 *
Sign & Share This Petition to Governor Scott
Marissa Alexander: You can also write to Marissa here:
Marissa Alexander #J46944 Lowell Annex 11120 NW Gainesville Rd. Ocala, FL34482, (Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for her to reply, if she’s able.)
Marissa Alexander is entangled in a very flawed court system. This case can’t get enough media exposure. I’ve written five stories about Alexander, which have garnered over 330,000 paige views to date. The public wants her free. Please help by signing the petition or sending a few sentences sentences to one, or all, of the above. If you haven’t the time, please share this information. Do it not only for Marissa Alexander, but for all those who are unjustly imprisoned for defending themselves against domestic violence.
If you are experiencing abuse or know someone who being abused, please know there is help. Please contact: National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE
|Leslie Salzillo is an activist, Rush Limbaugh boycotter, political commentator and visual artist. She began contributing to Liberals Unite in June of 2013. Join her on the new Facebook page, Pro-Choice Liberals.|