Some Justice. No Peace

“This jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. … This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these fucking idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”

Michael Dunn wrote those words while awaiting the trial that concluded Saturday. He was, of course, convicted on three counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting into a vehicle, but somehow not convicted of the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The jury deadlocked on that count. Regardless, Dunn will probably spend the rest of his days lonely and miserable and forgotten, in a state prison full of “blacks” who “act like thugs” and haven’t “taken the hint” he and his gun dropped.

There is some justice in that, but it feels hollow, incomplete. That a jury couldn’t convict Dunn for gunning Jordan down, that at least some of them apparently couldn’t see through his transparently fanciful concoction about a shotgun (even though Dunn fled the scene, had some pizza, walked his dog, took a nap and never bothered to call the police, then at trial blamed the cops for not searching diligently enough for the imaginary weapon), that a black boy being “disrespectful” gives short-tempered white guys license to kill in “self-defense” — if you want to believe in justice for all, that’s a bitter pill.

This wasn’t, as the media too often said, about “loud music” (or, in Dunn’s words, “thug music”). It was about entrenched stereotypes of young black men as dangerous thugs. Michael Dunn looked at Jordan Davis and saw a criminal, just as George Zimmerman looked at Trayvon Martin and saw a criminal. Now those unarmed teenagers are dead, and no one has been held accountable for their killings.

We can pretend that this isn’t about race. We can say that it’s really about some amorphous intergenerational conflict or cultural misunderstanding or lack of general civility. But we’d only be lying to ourselves. Jordan Davis was not a “fucking idiot” any more than any other mouthy 17-year-old who likes loud, obnoxious music and doesn’t show absolute deference to nosy elders. But that’s not why he’s dead. He’s dead because he was black. Let’s not kid ourselves about that.

And now, as it was with Trayvon, Angela Corey has failed to convict his killer. She’ll get another crack at it — the state will retry Dunn — but the damage is already done. Blame Corey, blame the jury, blame gun culture, blame the Stand Your Ground law that emboldens paranoids like Dunn, blame the system writ large — it doesn’t really matter. Jordan Davis is still dead, and justice wasn’t served. Not fully. Not enough.

If you’re a young black man, there’s a message there: You are suspicious by virtue of your existence. “I have taken off my hoodie,” a local 13-year-old told First Coast News. “I usually wear it in the stores, but I’ve taken it off. … I watch my back while I’m walking down the streets.”

How sad is that?