When Justice Is Blind

Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla., received a 20-years prison sentence, Friday, May 11, 2012, for firing warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband. The judge rejected a defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla., received a 20-years prison sentence, Friday, May 11, 2012, for firing warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband. The judge rejected a defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

Last year, a woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Florida. She tried the “Stand Your Ground Defense” and it was rejected and sent to prison.

Yesterday, a man who killed a boy – George Zimmerman – who also used the “Stand Your Ground Defense” was found “not guilty” by his peers.

I have two sets of friends, it appears. Those who side with George Zimmerman and those who side with Trayvon Martin.

I don’t know the particulars in the Zimmerman case. I wasn’t there. I, like the rest of America, heard about the story months after it happened when it became clear there was some sort of miscarriage of justice.

I believe in the 2nd amendment. I believe it should be held up in its purity. I’m glad there are groups who are fighting to uphold our rights to bear arms .

But, I also believe we need to equally spend time, money, and energy on basic community development.

My Facebook comment reads thus:

[This] sentence was handed down in May 2012, 5 months after Trayvon Martin was killed and we all knew George Zimmerman exercised Stand Your Ground (now successfully according to a jury of his peers). I can’t speak to the technicalities of either case. But, it seems clear that both felt threatened for their lives. One shot a warning and was convicted. Another shot a boy and was found not guilty.

The one to go to prison is black. A woman. A mother. A recorded Domestic Violence Victim. The irony should not be lost – and that’s what we owe to our children to fix – continue to create a truly just society.

On the face of either case, both should have been set free. Both acted in defense of themselves. The man goes free. The woman, with children, is set to prison. She had already filed charges against her husband, the man whom the warning shots were fired against, and he was not supposed to be near her. Her children will be raised by who? This man who beat his mother? What will that show? What will that prove?

It proves that our society isn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate the irony. It proves that we have a long way to go to allow justice to be truly blind.

In both cases, lives were ruined, lost, and forever altered. What will we learn from both tragedies?