Nine months after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a White man killed another Florida teen under troubling circumstances.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that on Friday night, 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis and a group of friends were sitting in an SUV in the parking lot of a Jacksonville convenience store when they were approached by another vehicle. Michael David Dunn, who was accompanied by his girlfriend, asked the teens to turn down their music.
According to Lt. Rob Schoonover of the Jacksonville Sheriffs' Office, Davis and Dunn exchanged words. Allegedly, the 45-year-old then drew a gun and fired into the SUV eight or nine times, striking the young boy twice. He then drove off, but a witness inside the store wrote down his license plate number.
The following morning, the couple learned that one of the passengers of the car had died via a news report. They then returned home to Brevard County, where Dunn was arrested later that day and charged with murder and attempted murder.
Jordan Russell Davis was a student at Samuel W. Wolfson High School, a magnet school. He worked at the local Wynn Dixie grocery store. Frankly, I would not care if he was a member of Three Six Mafia who had stopped at the convenience store to re-up on blunts and 40 ounces. If a group of people is sitting in a car listening to loud music, it is not the job of a private citizen to demand that they turn it down. Furthermore, there is nothing justifiable or excusable about Dunn drawing a gun on a group of people whom he had accosted.
Michael David Dunn, likely high off the excitement of his son’s wedding, perhaps a few too many gin and tonics at the reception and certainly the feeling one gets from being White, male and armed, felt it was his place to approach these young people aggressively over the volume of their music.
And this gun wielding person, who allegedly APPROACHED THE CAR without provocation (much like George Zimmerman hunted down Trayvon Martin without provocation), felt threatened by the presence of teenagers in a car with whom he started an argument because HE THOUGHT THEIR MUSIC WAS TOO LOUD.
White privilege is just so, so real.
Dunn’s daughter has come forward to defend her father as “a good person.” While we all make mistakes, I’m inclined to say that picking an argument with a car full of teenagers and then shooting into the vehicle is the first step a “good person” makes off of the path of righteousness. I’m inclined to assume that the gun collector wasn’t a big fan of young Black men and had probably done other non-“good person” things before.
The shooter’s lawyer, Robin Lemonidis, originally stated that her client was not guilty and had acted responsibly, adding that the full story had not yet been made public. A report late Tuesday night included claims that Dunn had “seen a gun.” While he certainly is entitled to his day in court…why was the gun claim not made until two days after he was arrested? Why didn’t he turn himself in if he felt he’d done nothing wrong? Where was the “good person” his daughter swears he is then?
Dunn harassed a car full of young people, shot into the car and drove away. Upon learning that someone had died, he fled town and waited for the police to come find him. The only bit of hope here is that there was a car full of witnesses, in addition to the people in and around the store who saw the incident.
Alas, in a country that is dealing with increased racial tensions and the insane paranoia of White men who seem to feel that their country has been stolen by a burgeoning ‘minority’ population and a Black president who won the popular vote, it seems inevitable that we will hear more stories like this. And as a community that has been ravaged by not only external abuse, but our own inability to get any sort of handle on our issues with Black-on-Black violence, one cant help but to feel like we are stuck in a sense of perpetual outrage, grief and trauma.
And so Jordan joins Trayvon as one of many, many Black boys and girls to be felled by senseless violence. Death by White hands, death by Black ones…one thing seems to remain constant: our lives simply do not matter enough to be protected. We march, we pray, we cry and still, we die for no reason.
When does it end?
[Editor's note: This article originally appeared on EBONY.com in July 2012. Michael Dunn will be tried for first-degree murder in connection with the shooting in September of this year.]
Jamilah Lemieux is the News and Lifestyle Editor for EBONY.com.