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Jordan Davis trial verdict fails to deliver justice, the people respond

By Fernando Figueroa |
February 16, 2014
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Tefa Galvis speaks to the press on the steps of the courthouse demanding justice
Tefa Galvis speaks to the press on the steps of the courthouse demanding justice for Jordan Davis. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
The JPC and NBPP speak in front of Angela Corey's office demanding her resignati
The JPC and NBPP speak in front of Angela Corey's office demanding her resignation.

Jacksonville, FL – The steps of the Duval County Courthouse were filled with protesters and community members on Saturday, February 15. They waited to hear the verdict in the trial to convict Michael Dunn for murdering Jordan Davis. Groups ranging from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), to the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition (JPC) held up signs, gave speeches, demanded justice, and marched around the courthouse. The day of protest began with a 9:00 am press conference and lasted long into the evening. So many people showed up throughout the day, it was hard to find a spot to sit or stand on the giant steps leading to the courthouse.

Inside the court, the jury was deliberating for a fourth day over the November 23, 2012 murder of Jordan Davis. Jordan Davis and his friends were in their Dodge Durango outside a Jacksonville gas station, when Dunn fired eight times into their vehicle. Michael Dunn, a white man, drove over, parked next to them, and then brutally murdered Jordan Davis in cold blood “for playing his music too loud.”

All week outside the court, organizers and everyday working people, especially African American community members, gathered eagerly awaiting justice. Everyone was there to demand that Michael Dunn be found guilty of all charges, especially the charge for the first-degree murder. Sunday February 16 would have been Jordan Davis's nineteenth birthday, surely a difficult day for his parents.

On Saturday, the crowd grew more and more energetic as they chanted and listened to speakers. Then came an announcement that the jury was deadlocked on the charge of murder one for Michael Dunn. Protesters were stunned, but quickly identified the problem as State Attorney Angela Corey. Corey botched the prosecution of George Zimmerman who stalked and murdered Trayvon Martin. Corey’s mishandling allowed Zimmerman to walk free after killing the African-American youth in Sanford, FL. Now she was mishandling another prosecution.

In another problematic case, State Attorney Corey was aggressive in prosecuting Marissa Alexander, an African American woman given 20 years for defending herself against her abusive husband. Angela Corey also has a long history of locking up African American and Latino youth, and trying them as adults – as was the case for both Christian Fernandez and Travis Swanson.

Later on Saturday, another announcement was made from the doors of the courthouse. The nearly one hundred protesters turned their attention to the announcement: “On the count of murder one, a mistrial had been declared.” People grew outraged and began shouting “We want justice NOW!” and “Justice for Jordan Davis!”

Protesters rallied on the steps and issued statements to a big circle of news cameras. The Jacksonville Progressive Coalition called for an emergency march to Angela Corey's office to demand her resignation that same night. The New Black Panther Party called for civil disobedience and for people to wear black ribbons and black armbands this week on Black Ribbon Tuesday.

Protest leaders next drafted a letter on poster-board demanding Angela Corey's resignation. People crowded in to sign the letter to State Attorney Corey. Then the protesters took to the streets and marched in the roadways blocking traffic on their way to Angela Corey's office. Jacksonville Progressive Coalition member Tefa Galvis led the crowd chanting “Hey-Hey! Ho-Ho! Angela Corey has got to go!” and “Murder is a Crime! Michael Dunn should do the time!” The dozens of police officers present just watched, so visible was the crowd's anger and focused determination to get justice for Jordan Davis.

After marching for about a mile, the crowd gathered in front of Angela Corey's office and heard speakers denouncing the “mistrial” verdict. Activists placed the letter demanding Angela Corey's resignation in front of the revolving door at her fancy office building. Tefa Galvis urged the community to stay involved in the ongoing fight for Jordan Davis, and minister Mikhail Mohammad from the NBPP closed out the night with a prayer.

The fight for Jordan Davis is far from over, while Angela Corey's career is in question. Galvis said, “The people will determine whether justice is found for Jordan Davis. The people will also work to put an end to Angela Corey's reign of terror and repression against young African American and Latino men and women.”

Fight Back! News Service urges everyone to travel to Tallahassee on March 3, 2014 for Moral Monday. Look for more information from Fight Back! in the coming weeks about this important event.

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