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Justice for Marissa Alexander

Tom Degan: George Zimmerman is a free man. Marissa Alexander languishes in a prison cell. Do they even have air-conditioning in those jury rooms? You gotta wonder.
marissa alexander

Marissa Alexander

Consider this: In the state of Florida, a young woman who "stood her ground" was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year for firing warning shots into the ceiling to ward off her abusive husband whom she had previously filed an order of protection against. The young woman in question, a mother of three named Marissa Alexander, had no criminal record.

She is an African American - but I'm sure that that's just a coincidence. I'm just kidding. That was no coincidence; in fact the jaw-dropping harshness of her punishment was almost inevitable.

Do you believe for an instant that had she been an upper middle class white woman she would have received the same treatment? Are you naive enough to swallow the notion that had she been the daughter of former governor, Jeb Bush (who has a criminal record, by the way), she would be looking at a 20-year stretch? If that is the case, go back to sleep. I'm attempting a serious discussion here.

First and foremost: Screw Florida. There ought to be a nationwide tourism boycott of what must be the most overrated peninsula on this planet. You want to take your kids to a nice spot for a vacation? Try a mountain lake resort or a national park. To hell with Disney World.

Florida is a sick joke. I spent enough time there in the eighties - lived there on and off for a spell - that I am able to speak with some authority on the subject. When I arrived there in the late winter of 1984, I set up headquarters in Naples, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. You wanna talk about humid? The summer of 1986 was particularly brutal. I never dreamed it could get that hot. In fact it's too damned hot for some people to think rationally. That's becoming more and more apparent these days, isn't it? George Zimmerman is a free man. Marissa Alexander languishes in a prison cell. Do they even have air-conditioning in those jury rooms? You gotta wonder.

At the time I lived there (or so it was told to me by the gloating locals), Naples had the highest rate of millionaires per capita than any other town in America. For the first four months of occupation I did not see one black person. It was only after I had hauled across Alligator Alley into Fort Lauderdale to see my friend, Paul Scesa, that I finally encountered one - a woman behind the counter of a deli who sold me a six-pack of Budweiser. I remember staring at her for a few seconds in utter disbelief. I felt like a bird watcher who had just come across a passenger pigeon. You want to check out a REALLY Jim Crow town? Take a little trip to Naples sometime.

YO, FELLOW HONKIES! Let's stop kidding ourselves, alright? We may not admit as much out loud, but we all know damned well that there are two different standards of justice here in Bonkers Land: one for them and one for us. Enough with the self-deception, alright?

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It has been suggested to me that had Marissa just shot her husband dead, a justifiable argument for the Stand Your Ground defense could have been made and she, like Georgie Boy Zimmerman, would be walking free as a bird today. It's interesting to note that the two people who have made this suggestion to me (posted on my Facebook page) are both white men. Let's get real here, guys. If Marissa Alexander had shot and killed her husband she would be rotting on Death Row at this very moment. Get a grip.

marissa alexander

Marissa was convicted of attempted murder. Why the hell is that? She didn't "attempt" to murder anyone. She fired at the ceiling inside of her home. Her husband has a history of violence - and he was in a rage when he found the record of a call from her ex-husband on her cell phone. If Stand Your Ground can apply to a twit with an action-figure-complex like George Zimmerman who (lest we forget) shot and killed an unarmed, seventeen-year-old boy, why does it not apply to Marissa Alexander? Would somebody please explain to me what is wrong with this picture? Anybody? The judge who sent Marissa to prison is named James Daniel. One wonders if he has read that little blurb in the Constitution about "cruel and unusual punishment".

Or maybe Stand Your Ground only applies to non-black males. Never mind.

Am I "fanning the flames" here? You bet I am, Buster! A good-sized fire is capable of lighting even the darkest American night. Inside the courtroom when Marissa was sentenced on May 12, 2012, was her eleven-year-old daughter. "I really was crying in there", she told a reporter from WETV, "I didn't want to cry in court, but I just really feel hurt. I don't think this should have been happening."

An understatement if ever there was one. I've got a funny feeling that this poor kid is going to grow into maturity with not much faith in the system of justice they've got down there in Florida. Can you blame her?

And don't hold your breath waiting for a little compassion from über aryan, Rick Scott. Poor old Rick is a bit of a sociopath - a fact that is revealed in every one of his public deeds. I'm sure that Rick has a list of a few (or more) of his white-collar-colleagues that he plans on pardoning before his term of office is complete. Marissa Alexander's name is not on that list. Call it a silly hunch on my part. Compassion is not his schtick.

Now would be a pretty good time for all of us to get mobilized on Marissa's behalf. She's already been in prison for over a year. Even a sentence that long should be deemed unreasonable. Her's was not a victimless crime. She is the victim. In case it's escaped your notice, these are not the greatest of times for women in this country. Double Trouble if you happen to have been born an African American woman. What has been done to Marissa Alexander should send thinking people everywhere into a blind rage. If the governor of Florida refuses to grant her a full and unconditional pardon (as I said, don't hold your breath) then the president of the United States should do it. This just isn't right.

tom degan

Tom Degan
The Rant

Saturday, 20 July 2013