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This post was written by NC FIST member Danielle Boachie and first appeared on her blog “Womancipation Proclamation” – http://womancipation.wordpress.com/
Marissa Alexander has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Marissa is the victim here. Her husband beat her while she was pregnant. After yet another beating, Alexander fired a warning shot which traveled through a wall and into the ceiling. That shot saved her life. Prosecutor Angela Corey did not take into account that Marissa Alexander: Had a court injunction against her crazed husband, Had Given Birth 9 Days Earlier, Was trained to use a weapon and earned a concealed weapons permit.
-Stand Your Ground Marissa Alexander:
On July 31, 2010, Marissa Alexander found herself in the presence of a man with at least three previous charges of domestic battery; a man who inflicted head injuries on her just the year before. She feared for her life as he taunted her with the words: “bitch, I will kill you.” On July 31, Marissa Alexander stood her ground. She protected herself from her estranged, abusive husband by firing non-lethal warning shots, allowing her to escape the dangerous situation. Despite using the obviously applicable “Stand Your Ground” defense, Alexander now faces 60 years in prison. This is the same law that acquitted Trayvon Martin’s murderer from full responsibility of his racist recklessness.
Where is Marissa Alexander’s ground to stand on?
On June 5, 2011, transgender woman CeCe McDonald was the center of a racist, homophobic and transphobic hate crime. CeCe and her friends were verbally assualted with racist and anti-trans insults by a group of older white people. When CeCe stood up to them and said that their group would not tolerate hate speech, a woman in the other group shouted “I’ll take you on” and smashed a glass bottle into CeCe’s face. A fight ensued, during which one of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, was fatally stabbed. CeCe was the only one arrested that night. On June 5, CeCe McDonald stood her ground. She defended herself from her ignorant attacker, but was nevertheless sentenced to 41 months in prison for second degree murder (19 of which she served before being released).
And so I ask, where is CeCe McDonald’s ground to stand on?
On November 2, 2013, 19 year old Raneisha McBride crashed into a parked car in a Detroit suburb and knocked on 54 year old white homeowner Theodore Wafer’s door for help – only to be shot in the back from two feet away, dying from the gunshot wound later that day.
Where was her ground?
The US “justice” system repeatedly proves that it is rife with inequalities, and irrefutably unable to eliminate bias within legislation. Because of the racist, sexist, classist, xenophobic, lgbtq-phobic etc nature of the judicial system, women of color (particularly those victim of interpersonal, sexual and domestic violence) are increasingly marginalized. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of women in prison increased 646% from 1980 to 2010, rising from 15,118 to 112,797. 30% of female prisoners are African American and 16% are Latinas. Plus, black women are imprisoned at nearly 3 times the rate of white women. Furthermore, 39% of women in state prisons and 23% of those in federal facilities reported being sexually abused before incarceration.
There is a double standard between the perception of the violence enacted by women and men. The same “blame the victim” rhetoric seen in rape culture is used to condemn victims of sexual or domestic violence for the abuse they endured. Plus, a paradox lies in the fact that women who act in self defense often receive harsh and unjust repercussions when compared to that of their assailant. As stated in the 1990 Florida Supreme Court Gender Bias Report: “despite the perception that the criminal justice system is lenient to women[,] . . . women (in Florida) are treated more harshly than similarly situated male offenders.” These factors, coupled with the risk undocumented women face of being deported, commonly deters women suffering from domestic battery from seeking justice.
There is no ground to stand on.
The racist and sexist nature of the criminal injustice system is apparent when Marisa’s harsh treatment for her self defense is compared to the same prosecutor’s (Angela Corey) treatment of racist killers George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, both of whom murdered young African Americans- Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis respectively. It is incomprehensible that Zimmerman was acquitted and Dunn will receive the same 60 year sentence as Marissa.
It is time to fight for the justice us women of color deserve.
It is time to stand OUR ground!
For more information please visit freemarissanow.org
Contact state prosecutor Angela Corey to demand justice for Marissa Alexander:
Angela Corey, State Attorney
220 East Bay Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202