Saturday, March 1, 2014

“Stand Your Ground” Nation

Ever since George Zimmerman gunned down Trayvon Martin in his Sanford, Fla., gated community, it’s become an article of faith that the rash of lethal shootings in public places—from the Florida moviegoer who was killed after a texting and popcorn-throwing incident to Jordan Davis, shot in his car at a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station to last week’s lethal shooting in an Arizona Walmart—is attributable to the “stand your ground” laws enacted over the past decade in 26 states across the country. Aggressive human interaction, post-Trayvon, now follows a painfully familiar pattern: An altercation occurs. Someone says he feared for his life. An unarmed victim (often young, black, and male) is shot and killed. The headlines either explicitly or implicitly invoke “stand your ground.”

Last week, Kriston Charles Belinte Chee, an unarmed man, got into a fight with Cyle Wayne Quadlin at a Walmart in suburban Arizona. Quadlin opened fire midargument and killed Chee. Officers decided not to charge Quadlin because, they concluded, the killing was in self-defense. According to the police spokesman, “Mr. Quadlin was losing the fight and indicated he ‘was in fear for his life.’” Just a week earlier, a jury in Jacksonville, Fla., found Michael Dunn guilty on four counts of attempted murder but did not convict him on the most serious charge of first-degree murder, in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Dunn shot and killed Davis, also unarmed, because the music coming from his car was too loud. Dunn claimed he saw something like a gun in the vehicle, and that was apparently enough for some members of the jury to conclude that Dunn hadn’t committed first-degree murder.

Read on....

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