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Tampa Dream Defenders hold vigil against the murder of Jordan Davis

By staff |
December 4, 2012
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Speaking out against racist killing of Jordan Davis
Speaking out against racist killing of Jordan Davis (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - 30 students gathered outside of the University of South Florida's Marshall Student Center, Dec. 1, to mourn the murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. On Nov. 23, Jordan Davis was racially targeted by a 45 year-old bigot named Michael Dunn in a Jacksonville gas station. Dunn shot eight or nine times at the vehicle Davis was in, with the excuse that Davis and his friends had been playing their music too loud. Dunn claims he saw a shotgun and feared for his life. This fear Dunn claims, drove him to not only shoot at these four high school students' vehicle and murder Jordan Davis, but to also flee the scene of the crime. When authorities searched the vehicle Jordan Davis was shot in, there were no signs of a weapon.

University of South Florida Dream Defenders and allies like Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society and the Florida Palestine Network held their candlelight vigil near the entrance to the Marshall Student Center. There they gathered in a circle and made clear connections between the racist murder of Jordan Davis with other recent murders like that of 16-year-old Javon Neal, who was shot approximately twelve times by Tampa Police and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. It is not a coincidence that all three of these youth were African American.

Alekos Zambrano of Tampa Dream Defenders challenged mourners to act, stating, “Those who would have us stay quiet in the face of racism and turn our backs to our own generation’s call for justice - we say, 'Our privilege and education mean nothing to us if people like Jordan Davis are continuously being murdered.’”

LIFE Malcolm, who is a strong Tampa community activist said, "These are critical times. It is incumbent upon us to speak unashamed and move unafraid when confronting our current condition. The first step in dealing with the war against African people in this country is calling it war. History does not discriminate. It welcomes each of us to choose a side - the side of the oppressed or the side of the oppressor."

Neveen Nawawy with Florida Palestine Network pointed out, "Jordan Davis is a great example of how post-segregation, we as a society have not progressed and continue to foster prejudice."

The state of Florida is home to many laws like the "Stand Your Ground Law" that are oppressive for people of color.

Hours before the event, organizers with Tampa Dream Defenders had received threatening messages from the directors of the Marshall Student Center, saying University Police would be called if the vigil went forward. One email was even titled, "Candlelight Vigil Will Not Happen."

Responding to the threats, Marisol Marquez of Tampa Dream Defenders states, “They became the oppressors - trying to silence us as we spoke out against oppression. Dream Defenders had its event even if we were threatened with University Police and the security; they did not shut down the Jordan Davis Candlelight Vigil."

After the candlelight vigil student, activist and organizer Jared Hoey of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society said, "We hope through gatherings and experiences like this we can get the message out that these attacks are of a racist society, and that we need to end white chauvinism."