Jordan Davis1

Voices: Jordan Davis’ Killer Won’t Do Time For His Death

Jordan Davis (1995-2012). Image via The Root.

Michael Dunn got away with murder.Oh, he’ll likely spend the rest of his life in prison on the three counts of attempted second-degree murder. Those are the charges of which a Jacksonville, Fla., jury took four days to find him guilty, for the 10 bullets he fired at 17-year-old Jordan Davis and his three friends that fateful November more than a year ago because they wouldn’t turn down the “thug music” that he despised.

Dunn’s conviction has given Jordan’s parents, Lucia McBath and Ron Davis, a bit of closure to know that their son’s killer won’t walk away free, that while he robbed Jordan of the chance to reach middle age, he also robbed himself of the chance to reach old age in a retirement village instead of a cell block.

But the jury couldn’t decide whether Dunn, 47, was justified in killing Jordan, who argued with him and cursed him when he asked them to turn down the music. Not only could they not decide whether Dunn’s slaying of the unarmed teenager amounted to first-degree murder, but they also couldn’t decide whether it amounted to second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Which leads me to ask: What if Jordan had been the only one in that Dodge Durango?
— Tonyaa Weathersbee, The Root

I walk around in this young Black male body and I understand that it causes fear. It causes a reaction. It causes police to look at me more carefully. It could kill me. This is the burden that I bear just by being born Black and living in America is the fact that I have been born into a racist system, a racist society that has placed on my Black male body a set of ideas that invoke fear in people. That’s what Jordan Davis was dealing with. That’s what Trayvon Martin was dealing with, and it killed them.

— Mychal Denzel Smith, as said on MSNBC, Feb. 16.

Davis was shot after exchanging words with Michael Dunn, a man 30 years his senior who objected to the loud rap music Davis and his friends listened to inside an SUV.

A need to contain those conflicts, or avoid them entirely, was underscored by the Dunn trial, which ended Saturday after a jury deadlocked on whether to convict or acquit Dunn in Davis’ murder but convicted Dunn of three counts of attempted murder.

“A lot of us understand the importance of equipping our youth to handle these situations,” said Rev. John Guns, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, who made the verdict part of his sermon.

Rev. Guns created an organization, Operation Save Our Sons, that tries to help adolescents and teens handle their problems constructively.

He said later that the verdict “was bittersweet for many of us. … Many of us would have loved to see him convicted of the first charge [murder].” Despite disappointment Saturday, he said families need to focus on preventing repeats of that sort of violence.

“Our challenge is as a community, we must respond in some strategic way … to make sure our young men do not end up in these situations again.”

— Steve Patterson, The Florida Times-Union

It’s sad for Mr. Dunn that he will live the rest of his life in that sense of torment, and I will pray for him. And I’ve asked my family to pray for him. But we are so grateful for the charges that have been brought against him. We are so grateful for the truth. We are so grateful that the jurors were able to understand the common sense of it all. And we will continue to stand, and we will continue to wait for justice for Jordan.

— Lucia McBath, Jordan Davis’ mother, as aired on CNN, Feb. 15

I insist that the irrelevance of black life has been drilled into this country since its infancy, and shall not be extricated through the latest innovations in Negro Finishing School. I insist that racism is our heritage, that Thomas Jefferson’s genius is no more important than his plundering of the body of Sally Hemmings, that George Washington’s abdication is no more significant than his wild pursuit of Oney Judge. I insist that the G.I Bill’s accolades are inseparable from its racist heritageI will not respect the lie. I insist that racism must be properly understood as an Intelligence, as a sentience, as a default setting to which, likely until the end of our days, we unerringly return.

— Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Nation

  • boBisa

    My brothers are 16 and 18. We are Latinos in California. Since my brother got his license (he is a comically responsible driver because he built his car entirely himself & loves his speakers so much), he has been pulled over 4 times in 4 months. For speakers being too loud. For not having a license plate in the front. For being out “too late” even though he is an adult. Each time they asked to search his vehicle, and he complied. He’s never been to jail, never been in trouble. He’s in community college, overall good kid–not that it matters. He’s tall, has a lineup, a goatee, & looks Mexican.

    I realize Dunn was not an officer of the law. I realize neither was Zimmerman. But they felt they were justified in dispensing justice through a barrel directed at an unarmed young man of color. California just passed a concealed carry law this week and that scares the shit out of me.

    These ideas of young men of color being dangerous by default, and of them having to jump when the white man tells them to or risk being shot or arrested, is ludicrous. It is harmful to the young man of color’s perception of self. It is harmful to society in the sense that POC will harbor resentment towards whites and purposely isolate themselves, & rightfully so if they keep getting shot at. But also, it is harmful because it is not only white people that perceive all of us negatively, WE see the way they see us and start to internalize that message because it is what is reflected in the mainstream media. Instead of subverting their expectations, we play right into them, thus perpetuating a cycle of academic underperformance, violence, & crime.

    So when my boy gets pulled over–
    when the officer tells him to jump–unless he wants to end up in the backseat in cuffs or on the ground in his own blood, what else is he supposed to say but, “How high?”

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    I came across these interviews with some former neighbors of Michael Dunn’s—they were done by the law firm representing Davis’s parents—and they really are an eye-opening look into what kind of person Dunn is—-which really didn’t surprise me, given his actions—I’m just glad he will be doing time, and that he wasn’t let off the hook:

  • brokenlol

    I am in no way trying to say that we don’t have a massive, culturally ingrained issue with white men and police shooting young black men based on racist perceptions of “dangerousness”.

    But, hasn’t every indication been that the jury couldn’t decide between 1st and 2nd degree murder or am I misunderstanding how jury decisions function in Florida?