Groups rally against Dunn verdict

New Jim Crow Movement, other progressive groups 'express outrage'

Author: Erica Rakow, General assignment reporter, erakow@wjxt.com
Tarik Minor, Anchor-reporter, tminor@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 17 2014 05:02:51 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 17 2014 08:13:14 PM EST
Groups rally against verdict
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A rally was held Monday at the Gate gas station on the Southside where 17-year-old Jordan Davis was shot and killed by Michael Dunn.

A mistrial was declared for Dunn on Saturday on the first-degree murder charge against him. He was convicted of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of firing into an occupied vehicle.

About 20 people from several progressive agencies gathered at the gas station at Southside Boulevard and Baymeadows Road for a rally called "Justice for Jordan." They wanted to "express outrage" with the verdict.

Organizer said it's incomprehensible to them as to why the jury couldn't reach a verdict on murder, with police evidence that revealed Davis was unarmed, coupled by statements made on the stand by Dunn's finance.

"It seems to be an injustice to the Davis family, his mother, that a guy would get convicted for shooting inside of a vehicle but get off innocent for murdering a child," rallier Diallo Sekou said.

Sekou said the groups want to get self-defense laws in Florida removed or changed.

"What happens with the 'stand your ground' law, it's not so much, like they would say, your back's against the wall, but you could just simply think that someone is a threat and you can murder this person just simply saying that you felt threatened," Sekou said. "And then there's only one person that lives to tell the story of the altercation."

"It means any child could be next, and we are saying, 'We don't want this anymore,'" activist Aleta Alston-Toure' said.

Activists said they want lawmakers to know they are watching.

"We need to let them know we are watching, for the heart and souls of our people," Alston-Toure' said. "We were just here with an open sore that was supposed to heal, but right now, we are right where we were with that same open sore after (George) Zimmerman."

Sekou said though Dunn will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, "you look at the fact that he's not spending 60 years in prison for the murder but for shooting inside of a vehicle."

The New Jim Crow Movement, the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, the Greater Party of Lavilla, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History organized the rally.

"It's a stigma in certain urban neighborhoods that young men can be treated less than human," activist VJ Williams said.

“Justice for Jordan” was the chant that could be heard throughout the downtown area Saturday night after the verdict was read.

"Playing music should never be an issue," Pastor John Guns said. "This is bigger than one young man. We're going to come after the law being applied unfairly. We understand this cannot continue to happen, not just for Jordan and Trayvon (Martin), but every young man. This has to change."

Since Judge Russell Healey declared a mistrial on count one, State Attorney Angela Corey said her office will likely retry Dunn on the first-degree murder charge, despite the trial costing thousands of dollars.

“The problem of retrying when we already know he's going to spend life in prison, versus cost of trial, and that's not anything bad to say about her, but her focus more than cost or time and effort is going to be Jordan Davis, his parents and making sure he pays for the wrong that Mr. Dunn committed,” legal analyst Gene Nichols said.

Organizers said the promise of a retrial is no consolation.

"I do not have any faith in the Angela Corey and the state attorney's office," Sekou said. "They have consistently done injustices, not only to the Martin family and others adjudicated in the state of Florida."

The groups are asking people to wear black ribbons Tuesday to express their disapproval of the verdict. They're also planning another demonstration on Feb. 26.