All Articles Tagged "Marissa Alexander"
The Stand Your Ground law has been on the books for nearly a decade — since 2005! It wouldn’t be until eight years later, on one fateful February night, that the self-defense statute would cause a wave of rallies, protests, and demonstrations across the country. You already know, I’m sure, to which tragic episode is being referred to here. We needn’t repeat it.
Despite pleas from Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Florida remains rigid on their controversial Stand Your Ground law. In fact, the grieving sobs of mothers who had sons or daughters victimized by the Castle Doctrine have fallen on the deaf ears of the politicians who support the statute. Here are a few of America’s lawmakers who continue to support Stand Your Ground laws and have even made moves to strengthen it.
The latest documentary from Moguldom Studios, Gunland, about the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago, is available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play and VHX now! Learn more here and purchase here. Buy it now!
Marissa Alexander’s saga seems unending. But a group of women and various civil rights groups are hoping to help expedite the case. They are calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to fire the prosecutor in case, Angela Corey. She wants to triple Alexander’s initial 20-year sentence when the case is retried in July and if Alexander is convicted.
You may recall, “Alexander was initially sentenced to 20 years — three separate 20-year sentences that Alexander was ordered to serve concurrently – for firing what the defense argues was a warning shot in the direction of Rico Gray, her estranged husband, during an alleged domestic violence incident,” reports Salon. During the incident no one was injured and only one shot was fired into a wall. Gray, who admitted in court he had threatened Alexander’s life, had a history of violent abuse against Alexander, 31.
Alexander’s conviction was tossed out by the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. An appellate court ordered a new trial after it found that the jury instructions impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense. Alexander was released on bail on November 27, 2013 and placed under house arrest.
Alexander tried unsuccessfully to use the Stand Your Ground defense.
Now advocates including UltraViolet, Color of Change, and Black Youth Project 100 have joined forces to deliver 100,000 signatures gathered in a petition to Gov. Scott demanding that prosecutor Angela Corey be fired.
They claim the prosecutor’s blatant abuse of power has led to the possibility that a domestic violence survivor will be sentenced to decades behind bars . And that Corey has had a history of overzealous prosecution before targeting Alexander.
“Marissa Alexander’s case has struck a nerve because of the way it demonstrates the racial bias that exists in our justice system, resulting in disproportionate prosecution and harsher sentences handed to women of color. This case also demonstrates how the justice system has failed women– 75 percent of female prisoners are domestic violence survivors and 82 percent are survivors of child abuse. Worse, 1 in 10 face further sexual abuse while in prison,” states the petition.
Any person, with common sense…who isn’t racist can understand that there’s no rationale reason why Marissa Alexander was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison for firing a warning shot at her husband Rico Gray.
And according to Florida law, all of this was legal. It’s legal but it’s not just. And in an effort to address that, the state Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would grant immunity to people with clean criminal records who fire a warning shot or threaten to use deadly force in self defense. The law will also seal court records for those who are initially charged if those charges are later dropped.
Had this law been in effect during Marissa Alexander’s trial, she would have never had to serve jail time, though it’s unclear whether she was the impetus for the law.
Instead, the measure is being supported by the NRA and other gun groups. Since it has already been passed by the House as well, next it will go to Florida governor Rick Scott, who supports the 2nd Amendment and Florida’s self defense laws.
Florida senator Greg Evers says, “This is about self defense. It’s one more step forward for people to protect themselves.”
There were naysers however. Senator Arthenia Joyner, a democrat from Tampa, said, “A Pandora’s box is being opened again,” referencing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. I have a great apprehension about what’s inside.”
Other democrats were satisfied with it, believing it would warrant a more fair application of “Stand Your Ground” and include cases like Alexander’s.
Under the new law as well people who are found innocent in these “warning shot”/ self defense cases will have their records sealed, making them unavailable to the public.
You can get more information about the new law here.
What do you think, is it a good idea? Do you think it will prevent more cases like Marissa’s or do you believe it will create more problems than it solves?
Jacksonville Pastors Ask Angela Corey To Offer Original 3-Year Plea Deal To Marissa Alexander, Urge Alexander To Take It
Marissa Alexander rejected a plead deal for in her original case of aggravated assault for firing a warning shot at her estranged husband in 2010, subsequently, she was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Reportedly, because of that rejection, when the case goes to retrial starting July 28, if convicted, Alexander could face a possible 60 years in prison. According to a statement put out by State Attorney Angela Corey, known for her involvement in both the George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn trials, 60 is what the law says the conviction should be, not something she or her team are pushing for: “Absent a plea agreement, if convicted as charged, the law of the State of Florida fixes the sentence.” Well, pastors in Jacksonville have written a letter and are calling for Corey to offer Alexander the same plea deal that was put on the table when Alexander was convicted the first time for the aggravated assault charges–three years. Because of time already served, Alexander could go free in just months, not years, if she was given that same three-year plea deal for this retrial. She was in jail from February 2011 until last November, when her sentence was overturned. Rev. Mark Griffin of Wayman Ministries had this to say to The Florida Times-Union:
“Given that she’s been granted a chance at a retrial, she should have the chance at a redo.
A third racially polarizing trial would not be good for blacks or whites in this community,” he said. “We have been in the national and international spotlight for all the wrong reasons.”
Rev. Marvin McQueen of First Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville Beach also said that violence in the community is growing rapidly, including black-on-black crime that needs to be focused on, but this can’t happen with Alexander’s case taking away all the attention.
“This is a chance to begin the healing and benefit the community.”
Rev. Griffin claims that he and the other pastors aren’t trying to take sides, they just want to move forward to put the focus on improving the community.
While a few months is better than possibly looking at 60 years, who wants to plead guilty to something that they feel they didn’t do? If Alexander truly was defending herself from her abusive husband, AND no one was hurt, she probably won’t want to accept a plea deal for this retrial. But who knows? For the sake of her children, if put back on the table, she might.
But then again, this hasn’t been offered (yet), it’s just what folks in the community (the pastors) are calling for. According to the Times-Union, plea deal offers aren’t extended to individuals publicly, so we won’t know what’s really going to happen until she rejects or accepts an offer that comes her way when the trial begins again this summer.
What do you make of all this?
The mere fact that there is not a single Change.org petition or Twitter hashtag aimed at freeing Shanesha Taylor tells me how little regard we place on how racism affects black women.
If the name doesn’t sound familiar, her story just might ring a bell. From the CBS affiliate in Scottsdale Arizona, this is Taylor’s story:
‘It’s unclear if an Arizona mom got the job she was interviewing for, but after a witness found her children, ages 2 years and 6 months in a hot car outside, she now faces child abuse charges.
Scottsdale police said a witness heard a crying child inside a Dodge Durango parked in an office complex parking lot at 9700 N. 91st St. in Scottsdale about 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The woman reported to police the two young children were inside the vehicle parked directly in the sun, with the engine off, the doors closed and each of the four windows were just slightly open.
The mother, Shanesha Taylor, 35, returned to the vehicle about 45 minutes later and told the officer she had just finished a job interview and did not have anyone to watch her children.
“She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation,” said Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark.
She was arrested and booked into jail for child abuse.
Her children are now in CPS custody.”
Yes, it is extremely sad – and desperately dangerous – for a mother to leave her two small children alone in a vehicle. It’s even more sad and just as dangerous that we lock up a woman, whose sole crime is being homeless with children.
And Shanesha Taylor is not alone. I read stories daily of black women being mistreated by law enforcement and jailed for peculiar reasons. From the trivial, including the unbelievably silly stories of black women being arrested and jailed for wearing thongs on the beach, to the more heartbreakingly sad story of the black mother who was arrested and even incarcerated for sending her child to the wrong school district, and other odd reasons in between. In very few of those occasions do these stories ever occupy the national black conscious beyond casual expressions of sympathy (i.e. “that’s so sad…”). In many instances, these peculiarly-arrested black women are likely to be vilified and implicated in their own miscarriage of justice by the community-at-large.
Honestly, I feel that if not for the Marissa Alexander case being in such close proximity to the Trayvon Martin case – both in locale and in timing – would we really care about her story at all? Honestly?
Missing from most conversations around incarcerations are the statistics, which show how black women are the fastest growing prison population in the country and how the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for black women is 1 in 19; compare that with 1 in 118 for white women. Also missing is how young black girls are “disproportionately affected by punitive, zero-tolerance policies,” which contribute to the much discussed (but never in terms of female children) school-to-prison pipeline. In this report entitled “Race, Gender and the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Expanding Our Discussion to Include Black Girls,” Monique W. Morris cites research, which found that teachers perceived black girls as being ‘loud, defiant, and precocious’ and that black girls were more likely to be reprimanded for being “unladylike” (including behavior described as loud, defiant and precocious) than their white or Latina peers.
Likewise, there is little talk about our current welfare policies and practices, particularly how the Department of Human Services and the justice system often work together to strip mostly black and poor women of their autonomies and rights as mothers – and it happens all in the name of protecting the welfare of children. According to this Frontline report, black children in the child welfare system are placed in foster care at twice the rate for white children. In this UCLA Law Review article entitled “Prison, Foster Care, and the Systemic Punishment of Black Mothers” Dorothy E. Roberts poignantly points outs this:
“As neoliberal policies strip poor African American neighborhoods of needed services, poor and low-income black mothers tend to receive child welfare support only when they have been charged with child maltreatment. An African American woman I interviewed in a black Chicago neighborhood poignantly captured this fundamental problem with U.S. child welfare philosophy:
[T]he advertisement [for the child abuse hotline], it just says abuse. If you being abused, this is the number you call, this is the only way you gonna get help. It doesn’t say if I’m in need of counseling, or if . . . my children don’t have shoes, if I just can’t provide groceries even though I may have seven kids, but I only get a hundred something dollars food stamps. And my work check only goes to bills. I can’t feed eight of us all off a hundred something dollar food stamps . . . I don’t want to lose my children, so I’m not going to call [Department of Children and Family Services] for help because I only see them take away children.”
When I read about the Shanesha Taylor case, I can’t help but to think how she, as a homeless mother trying to land employment, felt in that moment about relying on the system for help? And with all the talk from Washington about cuts to welfare, was the system even an available option? I also wonder how prosecuting her actually serves in the best interest of these children? What could be gained from turning their mother into a criminal, which will now pretty much guarantee that she will never hold a job again? How does traumatically ripping them from their mother’s arms and placing them into the unpredictable foster care system act in their welfare? In this peculiar justice system, which seems to punish poor women for the crime of being poor and of few options, we have contributed to the overall economic and familial instability of the most vulnerable members of society: the children we are supposed to be protecting.
Another statistic to note comes from the American Civil Liberties Union website, which says that girls of color who are victims of abuse are more likely to be processed by the criminal justice system and labeled as offenders than white girls, who are more likely to be treated as victims and referred to child welfare and mental health systems. There is no denying that race too plays a part in how we view black women and their encounters with the justice system. Even more of a reason why Shanesha Taylor deserves our support and the benefit of the doubt.
Florida and State Attorney Angela Corey can’t seem to get it right. We were all hoping that because Marissa Alexander was getting a new trial after her sentence was overturned in September, she could get a break since her 20-year sentence (a mandatory penalty because her case involved a gun) was extremely over-the-top. But according to MSNBC, Alexander could now face 60 years in prison for firing what she says was one “warning” shot in the direction of her estranged husband, who was reportedly abusive and attacked her prior to the firing of the shot, which occurred back in 2010. She did so inside of her Jacksonville home and no one was hurt in the confrontation.
The office of State Attorney Angela Corey has made it clear that when Alexander’s trial begins again this summer (set to begin on July 28), Corey and her team will seek to put Alexander away for 60 years because according to a statement put out recently by her team, “Absent a plea agreement, if convicted as charged, the law of the State of Florida fixes the sentence.” According to reports, sentencing laws of the state have changed since Alexander was originally convicted in 2012. She will be retried on three counts of aggravated assault. Alexander’s case became national news because of the fact that she tried to use the state’s Stand-Your-Ground law as part of her defense, a law that has come under great scrutiny over the last few years. Since her case became front-page news, it has inspired efforts to try and expand the state’s “Stand-Your-Ground” laws so that they also include warning shots.
Corey, known for her prosecution of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, has been accused of having a vendetta against Alexander. Just this past January she tried to have Alexander put back in jail for running errands and driving around with relatives. A request for Alexander’s imprisonment was denied because a correctional service counselor gave Alexander approval to make such trips.
Those behind the Free Marissa Now campaign said in a statement to the press that such a massive sentence would send a message that defending your own life against abuse makes you the bad guy in a court of law:
“Incarcerating Marissa Alexander will send a strong message to all survivors that violence against them will be ignored and they instead will be subject to prosecution if they defend their lives.”
What do you think about State Attorney Corey’s pursuit of a possible 60 years in prison for Alexander?
Earlier this week, we told you that Florida’s State Attorney, Angela Corey, submitted a petition to revoke Marissa Alexander’s bond. Corey claimed that Alexander ran errands while she was on house arrest, violating the conditions of her home detention release. But today, the court upheld Alexander’s release and she will not have to go back to prison while she awaits her second trial.
Alexander’s legal team was able to prove that a Service counselor, who supervised Marissa’s house, approved every trip and asserted that Alexander was not in violation of the terms of her release.
Many, including the “Free Marissa Now,” group believe that Corey’s actions are yet another example of the harassment Alexander has received since the beginning of her case. One member of the group, Aleta Slton-Touré said, “While we are relieved that Corey’s motion was denied, we must ask the question, why is Angela Corey targeting rather than supporting Marissa Alexander, a victim of domestic violence who defended her life after her husband strangled her and threatened to have her killed?”
Good question, indeed.
State Attorney Angela Corey Seeks To Revoke Marissa Alexander’s Bond Because She Allegedly Ran “Errands”
Not even two months after Marissa Alexander was released on bail, Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey is seeking to revoke her bond.
According to First Coast News, Angela filed the motion, insisting that Marissa violated the terms of her release. If you recall, Marissa was to remain on home detention; however, according to Angela’s motion, Marissa left her home on several occasions to “run errands.” According to Jacksonville.com, her alleged errands consisted of shopping for clothes, getting a new driver’s license, going to the bank and driving family members to the hair salon and airport.
Marissa, who was released on bond on Nov. 27, spent the last two years in prison for firing a warning shot during a domestic dispute with her husband, who admitted that he threatened to kill her. After passing on a 3-year plea deal for the offense, Marissa was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Representatives on behalf of Marissa have yet to publicly comment on Angela’s motion and allegations.
A hearing regarding Marissa’s bond violation is scheduled for this Friday. We will keep you posted as this story develops.
Dear My Fellow Fed-Up Sistas and Brothas,
This has been a particularly trying year for people of color, hasn’t it? The cold-blooded killer of an innocent, college-bound, black boy went free. A former college football star was shot dead when running to the police for help. Blackface Halloween costumes seemed to be all the rage this year. A young black man was racially profiled, arrested and detained for buying a $350 belt at a high-end clothing store. A young black woman had her head blown off for seeking help after a car accident. Racist columnists showed, in no uncertain terms, just what they thought of New York City’s new mayor and his racially mixed family.
We are trying to process such regression of race relations and civil rights in a country that can boast progression in almost every other area. We are all dealing with it. How well we’re dealing with it is anyone’s guess at this point. Some of us choose to get involved in the legal processes. Some are engaging in thought-provoking, life-changing discussion. Some are creating art in all forms to spread messages of nonviolence, anti-racism and unity.
And there are the others. The point-of-view police. Calling folks out far and wide for tweeting or retweeting jokes, but not discussing Marissa Alexander’s trial. Questioning folks’ dedication to their race and The Struggle because they choose not to participate in race discussions. I do believe you mean well. You’re fed up like the rest of us. You’re livid and God knows you have every right to be. We all do. Trying to spread the message of racial equality only to be met with more murders and cases of racial profiling is enough to keep us all either living in a constant state of fear or animosity. We’ve been fighting the same fight for eons and forward movement seems slow at best.
What we have to remember is not to turn our frustrations on one another. We are all in this thing together. We are all coping the best way we know how. For some of us, coping looks like an hours-long Twitter discussion about the insistent choice of law enforcement (and society at large) to blame the victim of even the most debased hate crimes. For some of us, using that space as a starting point to unapologetically raise our voices and organize against racial inequity is powerful. For some of us, that is where our talents best serve. Others choose to talk less and involve themselves in whatever physical labors of unity their hands can find to further the cause. Protesting. Taking classes on race relations. Establishing relationships with local law enforcement.
And then some of us are silent and motionless. Some of us don’t know what to say. Some of us don’t know what to do. We feel helpless at first so we crack jokes, unsure of how else to bring comfort to so many of our people who are hurting and angry. Some of us avoid direct contact with the issues until we can make sense of them by ourselves first. And there is no shame in that.
We are all feeling our way through this. Lashing out at those who respond differently than you do is not a solution to the problem we’re facing as a people. Deriding each other for processing, thinking, feeling, reacting to troubling race related news in a way you might not readily understand does nothing to coax even the slightest bit of solidarity out from behind the shadows of fear, pain and indecision. Only patience, understanding and affirmation will do that. Let us remember to embrace one another, but bare our teeth toward racism. That is the only way to honor those we’ve lost.
Peace to Trayvon Martin.
Peace to Jonathan Ferrell.
Peace to Renisha McBride.
And to the rest of those whose lives have been lost but whose names will continue to inspire the fight against racism, peace to you.
After spending over 1,000 days behind bars, the Florida woman who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for firing off what was said to be a warning shot to scare off her abusive husband, has been released from prison. And thankfully, just in time to spend Thanksgiving with her family—including her youngest child, whom her attorney says has been without her mother for the first three years of her life.
According to First Coast News, Marissa Alexander was released on $200,000 bond Wednesday night at 10:30 pm. The Duval County Clerk of Court says Alexander was granted a pretrial release with special conditions. If you recall, though Alexander merely fired a warning shot and no one was injured during the incident, she was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, which resulted in a mandatory 20-year sentence thanks to Florida’s “10-20-Life” law. The 2012 conviction was overturned this past September when a judge ordered a retrial after finding that an unfair burden was placed on Alexander’s defense to prove that she fire the shot in self-defense.
The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign released a celebratory statement acknowledging the Florida mom’s release on Thanksgiving morning.
“Words cannot express the relief and joy of everyone in the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign that Marissa Alexander is home with her family this Thanksgiving Day,” organizers wrote
“We are thrilled that Ms. Alexander will be able to prepare for her new trial amid the support and love of her children and family from whom she has been separated far too long,” the statement continued.
This is great news for Alexander, who has been experiencing major difficulties regarding bond hearings. We’re thrilled that she was able to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Her new trial is set to begin March 31, 2014.