'Loud Music' Killer Is Going to Jail; Is That Enough?

What Michael Dunn's murder mistrial says about race in America
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2014 11:42 AM CST
'Loud Music' Killer Is Going to Jail; Is That Enough?
Michael Dunn leaves the courtroom after the verdict is read in Jacksonville, Fla. Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014.    (The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack, Pool)

Michael Dunn, the man who shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis over music he believed was too loud, is going to prison, likely for the rest of his life. But the jury didn't convict him of murder, which has left a bad taste in many people's mouths. Has justice been done? What should we learn from the incident? Here's what people are saying:

  • "It's a hollow victory," writes Tonyaa Weatherbee at CNN. "I guess now any random white man can confront a black teenager whose style of dress or music he doesn't like," and, if that teenager responds defiantly, as teenagers are wont to, "then it's perfectly fine to exterminate him." The verdict says that in 21st century America, young black men are so scary that killing them isn't murder.
  • For Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic, the killing and the non-verdict are simply the latest evidence that "the irrelevance of black life has been drilled into this country since its infancy, and shall not be extricated through the latest innovations in Negro Finishing School."
  • Paul Barrett at Bloomberg is no Dunn apologist, but he thinks the civil rights groups calling for a retrial are making a mistake. It would wiser to let Dunn rot in prison and pivot to a larger discussion that "doesn't prolong public focus on the particular nature of this one man's malevolence. He's not important. Why provide a fresh forum for his defense lawyers to suggest he's some kind of martyr?"
  • That discussion should focus on Stand Your Ground laws, argues Nick O'Malley at the Sydney Morning Herald. Floridians "cannot claim to be surprised" by the non-verdict, he writes. This mistrial, and George Zimmerman's acquittal, "are not glitches in stand your ground law, but the law's very intent." Indeed, the New York Times has a piece today on how the law specifically made conviction more difficult.
(Read more Michael Dunn stories.)

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