First Trayvon. Then Jordan Davis was shot and killed at a Florida gas station after a dispute over loud ‘thug music’ in late 2012. Then Jonathan Ferrell, an ex-football player at Florida A&M University was fatally shot ten times by police in North Carolina in September while seeking help after a car accident, for which the homeowner called the police. He was unarmed. In the most recent murder of an unarmed black person shot to death by a white person, nineteen-year-old Renisha McBride was shot in the head as she turned to leave the porch of a home in the white neighborhood of Dearborn Heights, a Detroit suburb. She was also seeking assistance from the home after a car accident and her cell phone had died.
Unsurprisingly, not only has the shooter still have yet to be identified, but the shooter has also not been charged. What is amazing is that when the Dearborn Heights Police Department requested a warrant for his arrest, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office SENT BACK a request for further investigation. Even more interesting yet is the ability for the accused to get out a claim of self-defense (he claims the gun was accidentally discharged) while still remaining anonymous.
This unfortunate incident raises the question, is this racially motivated? Which prompts the response, how can it not be? It is impossibly hard to see how race did not play a factor in this tragic shooting of yet another young black person in society. For what reason, other than race, can there be to cause a person to become so fearful of a knock on the door that they shoot the knocker in the head as they are LEAVING? Even if the homeowner thought that the “knock” was someone trying to break in and enter the home (though the knock should have confirmed that it wasn’t a burglary), it was certainly confirmed that McBride was NOT an intruder when she turned to leave! Plus, could he not have just called the police?
Like Florida, the state of Michigan also has a Stand Your Ground law, which eliminates the duty of retreat in the use of deadly force. While the facts in this case seem implausible for self-defense, such a law may still be applied to the case so long as he “honestly and reasonably” fears for their life. Ironically, this shooting seems to have been predicted by lawmakers, some of whom tried to propose legislation to repeal the state’s Stand Your Ground law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin trial/George Zimmerman verdict.
If it wasn’t obvious before, race plays a determinate role in these tragic shootings that often end in the loss of yet another young black life. It is time that lawmakers truly take a look at laws that protect these vigilantes acting on either conscious or subconscious biases and do what is right to make sure that justice is served.
Justice for Trayvon Martin. Justice for Jonathan Ferrell. Justice for Renisha McBride.
by Portia Allen-Kyle
- Renisha McBride demonstrators ask: What if she were a white woman shot by a black man? (mlive.com)
- Outrage in Detroit Over Death of Renisha McBride,19, Shot While Seeking Help (atlantablackstar.com)
- Once Again, a Black Person Is Shot and Killed While Looking for Help (gawker.com)
- How black girls die in America: The outrage of the Renisha McBride shooting – Salon.com (salon.com)
- Protesters call for justice after porch killing (sacbee.com)