5.15.2012

The Double Standard? Marissa Alexander Stood Her Ground in Florida and Gets Twenty Years in Prison

This case is sickening, yet not surprising! America's criminal justice system continues to keep living up to its reputation.

Last Saturday, May 12, I was a guest on Liberated Sister Radio show hosted by Sister Charlene Muhammad on KPFK. We discussed the case of Marissa Alexander, the Jacksonville, Florida mother who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing what she called a "warning shot" aka "back up off of me shot" into the wall after a physical bout with her abusive husband two years ago. No, the bullet did not hit him. The "stand your ground" law did not work in her favor as it has thus far for George Zimmerman, the self-proclaimed neighborhood watchmen who took the life of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. in late February.

The horrific ruling against Alexander was made on May 11, just days before Mother's Day. According to an online petition launched by supporters of Alexander:
Marissa's husband has a documented history of violence and domestic abuse toward women. The history of Marissa Alexander and her husband includes an injunction for protection against violence and was active during August 2010. In a jealous rage, Marissa's husband violently confronted her while she used the bathroom. She was assaulted, shoved, strangled and held against her will. She was prevented from escaping and was not able to obtain her cell phone to call 911. Her husband was asked to leave repeatedly. He and his two sons (Marissa's stepsons), were supposed to have exited through the front door but, did not. Her husband entered the kitchen wich leads to the garage and saw that Marissa was unable to leave via the malfunctioning garage door. Her husband yelled "B---h I will kill you!" and charged toward her. 
Marissa had retrieved her licensed and registered gun which she owned for years before even meeting her husband – from her vehicle. She held the weapon in her right hand down by her side as he yelled, "B---h I Will Kill You! And charged toward her. In fear and desperation, Marissa Alexander lifted her weapon, turned away and discharged a single shot in the ceiling. As she stood her ground – that single shot prevented him from doing that which he had threatened. He ran out of the house where he contacted police and falsely reported that Marissa Alexander shot at him and his 2 sons. The police took Marissa Alexander into custody. The state of Florida has a self-defense law which includes the right to Stand Your Ground. Marissa Alexander did not receive immunity under this law. Alexander's husband admitted that he was the aggressor, threatened her life and was so enraged that he did not know what he would do – this being under sworn statement in November of 2010. Alexander's husband was arrested for domestic violence twice – once for abuse against Alexander. That attack landed Alexander in the hospital. [Read more and sign the petition]
Following the May 11 ruling, Congresswoman Corrine Brown said, "Earlier today, I watched in horror and extreme sadness as a judge sentenced Marissa Alexander, a documented victim of domestic violence, to a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison for firing warning shot into the air after she was attacked by her husband. This African American woman didn’t hurt anyone and now she might not hug her children for twenty years...My first step in this case will be to bring in the nation’s best experts in domestic violence law. The Florida criminal justice system has sent two clear messages today. One is that if women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the “Stand Your Ground Law” will not apply to them."

In a blog posted dated April 3, Alexander wrote "I am a law abiding citizen and I take great pride in my liberty, rights, and privileges as one. I have vehemently proclaimed my innocence and my actions that day. The enigma I face since that fateful day I was charged through trial, does the law cover and apply to me too?...The law states that I was justified in standing my ground and meeting force with force up to including deadly force, but political views and concerns states otherwise in the 4th circuit court. So my last questions and valid concerns are what was I supposed to do that day and the stand your ground law who is it for?"

Read more about her case and efforts to raise funds for her legal fees by visiting http://www.justiceformarissa.blogspot.com/