• Standing Your Ground.

    When Marissa Alexander used her legally licensed firearm to protect herself and her kids, she didn't imagine she'd be sent up the river for 20 years. But that's exactly what's happening. What makes it worse is that Alexander's case is the perfect scenario for how Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law should be used:

    Alexander claims she was acting in self-defense, that her husband, Rico Gray, attacked her when he found messages to her ex-husband on her cell phone. Gray has said in testimony that he had previously warned Alexander that he would kill her if he ever found out that she had been unfaithful. In her panic, she ran to the garage, hoping to escape. Once there, she found that she did not have her keys and that the garage door was broken.

    Feeling that there was no other route of escape, Alexander armed herself and re-entered the house. Gray confronted her, threatening to kill her once again. The mother of three turned her face away and fired a warning shot into the ceiling in hopes that Gray would back down, which he did, taking his children from a previous relationship and fleeing the house.

    Ironically, there'd be a much greater chance of her walking free had she actually shot and killed him. Now there's a lesson domestic abuse victims might pick up in similar situations. It'd also help if Alexander was a photogenic blonde woman of noticeably WASP heritage. The law tends to be an ass when it comes to black Americans, black American women especially.

    It's also worth noting that Alexander passed up a three-year plea deal, like any person would do if they genuinely believed themselves to be innocent. For some odd reason, the prospect of a 20-year bid seems like the prosecution and judges making an example of someone who didn't cop out when asked to.

    The judge's rationale for convicting Alexander?

    “Maybe I would be agreeing to a new Stand Your Ground motion, which highlights some of the difficulties we are struggling with procedurally implementing this new law,” he wrote, “but ultimately the motion is denied.” In his opinion, Alexander’s decision to re-enter the house was “inconsistent with a person in genuine fear of his or her life.

    Now contrast this ruling with the one for Greyston Garcia:

    Circuit Judge Beth Bloom ruled Mar. 27 in a widely reported case that Greyston Garcia would not have to stand trial for killing Pedro Roteta, whom Garcia stabbed. According to Judge Bloom, Garcia was within his rights under Stand Your Ground law, because Roteta swung a bag of radios at Garcia, which, had it struck its intended target, could have been lethal.

    Garcia, of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, did not come under attack from Roteta. Instead, he found Roteta stealing a radio from his car. When Roteta saw Garcia, he ran away, and Garcia followed him, pulling out a knife. Garcia chased Roteta for a block, cornering him, and Roteta swung his bag of radios at Garcia - the potential lethal force. It was then that Garcia stabbed him.

    Protecting your property is OK and "protecting" your neighborhood from an imagined menace is OK, too. But protecting yourself from an abusive human being isn't in the cards.

    Rulings like these send a message. Battered wives, minorities and those who are perceived to be at the bottom of America's socioeconomic totem pole are now being put on notice.