So-called “castle doctrine” and “stand your ground” laws, better labeled “shoot Black and Brown people with virtual impunity”, have always been inherently contradictory, because their application is decided not by rational, objective, independent arbitors of justice, but by white supremacists in what passes for America’s legal system.
Consider the most recent example: A S.W.A.T. officer was shot and killed during a so-called “no-knock” raid in Texas in which officers failed to identify themselves to their intended target, one Marvin Guy, aged fifty. Guy apparently heard commotion outside his window in the dead of night and, as is allowed for white people in most states, but almost never Black and Brown people, shot first and asked questions later. Detective Charles Dinwiddie took one to the face and died two days later of his injuries. Mr. Guy has been charged with three counts of attempted capital murder, and sits in prison with a three million dollar bond, a ridiculously high amount he cannot possibly pay in order to secure his release from prison while he awaits his trial.
By contrast, a Texas white man will not face charges for killing a police officer. Henry Magee was asleep in his home at night when, similarly to Marvin Guy’s case, police decided to conduct a no-knock raid. Magee, like Guy, did not wait before firing at who he thought were intruders breaking and entering his home. Police sergeant Adam Sowders was killed.
Unlike Marvin Guy, however, Henry Magee will not face charges. His status as a white man entitles him to virtual immunity from prosecution for the same act for which Marvin Guy now faces three counts of attempted murder – an offense that, if he is convicted, could net him the death penalty or life in prison.
In that regard, Magee enjoys some rather dubious company: George Zimmerman, who got away with the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, in Florida, Joe Horn, a Texas boy who shot and killed two unarmed would-be robbers as they fled from a neighbor’s home, and Michael Dunn, who murdered unarmed teen Jordan Davis in a confrontation over loud music and escaped a murder conviction (and has yet to be sentenced for his attempted murder verdict).
In all the cases mentioned above, the victims were Black or Hispanic, and the shooters were white*.
Similar to Marvin Guy, Marissa Alexander, a Black woman, was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison in Florida for firing a warning shot to ward off an assailant, her ex-husband, who was trying to beat her up. That case has, thankfully, prompted a new trial and a temporary release, and her attorneys are seeking to have the conviction overturned. Since then, Florida has extended its “stand your ground” law to include warning shots, but this is an illusory “reform” at best, because the hideous and racist double standards remain untouched. White folk are still free to shoot unarmed Black and Brown people with almost no consequences, if any at all, while Black and Brown people face prison for defending themselves.
Such a double standard is reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, where in spite of slavery having officially ended in the South, Blacks nevertheless continued to be subjugated, attacked, and murdered by whites at their whim, with no punishment for the perpetrators. Sadly, the era of New Jim Crow ensures that such terrorism against minorities will continue unabated, unless something is finally done about it.
*:Zimmerman is, according to some sources, half white and half Latino, but his treatment is indicative of the preferential variety traditionally given to white criminals compared to Black and Hispanic suspects.