Michael Dunn Verdict Infuriates Black Social Media

Florida residents protest the state’s “Stand your ground” laws in 2012.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Florida residents protest the state’s “Stand your ground” laws in 2012.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The jury verdict Saturday in the killing of Jordan Davis lit up the black blogosphere over the weekend, with comparisons to the plight of young black men and the "Stand Your Ground" case of Trayvon Martin, another slain, unarmed black Florida teenager who claimed national attention last year.

The "Democracy, Now!" radio and television show summarized the developments:

"A Florida jury has convicted Michael Dunn of three counts of attempted murder for opening fire on a car of unarmed black teenagers during an argument over loud rap music at a gas station.


"But the jury deadlocked on the most serious charge, the first-degree murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial on that count. Dunn, who is white, shot at the vehicle carrying Davis and his friends 10 times. He then fled the scene, went to a hotel with his girlfriend and ordered pizza. He never called the police. Citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, Dunn’s attorneys had claimed the shooting was justified because he had felt threatened by the teenagers.

"But prosecutors said the teenagers were unarmed and never left their vehicle. Legal analysts say Dunn could face at least 60 years in jail for the attempted murder convictions against the three other teens. The jury in the trial was 2/3 white and did not include any black males. The verdict was reached on Saturday, one day before what would have been Davis' 19th birthday. . . . "

Jet magazine, which featured Davis on its cover in January 2013, issued this statement from Editor-in-Chief Mitzi Miller:

"JET Magazine has followed the Jordan Davis tragedy since the very beginning. With the verdict now in, we are relieved that some justice will be served. However, we are extremely disappointed that the jury was unable to convict Michael Dunn on all five of the charges.


"It is our hope that the retrial will occur, Michael Dunn will be found guilty of first-degree murder and a message will be sent to this country about the consequences of reckless indifference [toward] the lives of African Americans. At this time, we send our thoughts and prayers to the entire Davis family as they continue to seek closure on the untimely death of their only child.

"JET Magazine intends to continue to report these issues to our audience and bring awareness nationwide in hopes that our service will propel Americans to stand up for justice for all."


By Monday night, HuffPost BlackVoices and The Root each featured five stories on their home pages about the case. Time magazine's website published a rejoinder from black conservative John McWhorter headlined, "How Not to Lose Another Jordan Davis: Now is not the time to dare The Man to beat us down."

"While people struggled to make sense of the verdict, Jamie Nesbitt Golden kicked off the #dangerousblackkids hashtag on Twitter, with participants questioning a society where unarmed black kids are often interpreted as threats," Melissa Jeltsen reported Sunday for Huffington Post.


Also being posted and retweeted was a blog post Saturday by Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic, subtitled, "The irrelevance of black life has been drilled into this country since its infancy, and shall not be extricated through the latest innovations in Negro Finishing School."

CNN anchor Don Lemon, who had previously argued that young black men were harming themselves with such sartorial choices as sagging pants, was outraged.


Josh Feldman reported Sunday for Mediaite, "Before the verdict in the Michael Dunn trial was announced Saturday (found guilty of four charges, including second-degree murder, but a hung jury on the question of first-degree), CNN's Don Lemon very clearly expressed on the air how outraged he was at the whole thing, saying it should be a very clear, open-and-shut case for the jury. Today Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett fired back with some pretty personal barbs aimed at Lemon and his knowledge of the law.

"Jarrett blasted Lemon for lacking objectivity about the case and called it 'pathetic' that Lemon would feel personally affected by the case. He said, 'The sum total of what Lemon knows about the law and this case… could be written on the head of a pin. And there would be plenty of space left over.' . . . "


Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: An imperfect verdict.

Lisa Bonner, Ebony: Fear of a Black Teen: Race, Perception and the Law

Keith Boykin, BET.com: Commentary: We Continue to Wait for Justice for Jordan Davis


Khyla D. Craine, The Root: In the Land of the Free, We Shouldn't Get the Michael Dunn Verdict

Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root: Michael Dunn: A New Breed of Thug in Florida

Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: No justice for Jordan Davis, more worry for parents of black children 


Josh Feldman, Mediaite: Fox's Gregg Jarrett: Don Lemon 'Lacks' Maturity, 'He's the Al Sharpton of CNN'

Nicole Flatow, thinkprogress.org: How To Make Sense Of The Michael Dunn Verdict

Florida Times-Union: Watch: How TV Is Reporting the Michael Dunn Trial

Florida Times-Union: Michael Dunn verdict elicits artistic response

Travis L. Gosa, The Root: Why Are White Men Like Michael Dunn So Angry?

Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPost BlackVoices: Black Twitter Shows Off The #DangerousBlackKids America Should Fear


Octavio Jones, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: Michael Dunn trial reaction

Solomon Jones, newsworks.org: Dunn, Jordan Davis and the plight of black boys

Judd Legum, thinkprogress.org: Media Trivializes Killing Of Unarmed Teen Jordan Davis As 'Loud Music Trial'


Don Lemon, CNN: Race and Justice in America: The Michael Dunn trial

Roland Martin, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Attorney Crump: 'Even Though [Michael Dunn] is Off the Streets, Our Justice System Still Let Him Escape'


Dan Scanlan, Florida Times-Union: Protest over Dunn mistrial goes to scene of the crime Monday

John McWhorter, Time: How Not to Lose Another Jordan Davis

Melba Pearson, Essence: The Jordan Davis Case: A Prosecutor's Point of View

Frank Roberts, Huffington Post: What We Wanted to Believe: An Open Letter to America (For Jordan Davis)


Goldie Taylor, the Grio: Jordan Davis deserves justice

Tonyaa Weathersbee, CNN: The extermination of Jordan Davis: An empty verdict, a hollow victory


Tonyaa Weathersbee, The Root: A Juror Looked at Jordan Davis and Saw a Criminal

Abby West, Essence: The Jordan Davis Case: A Mother's Point of View

DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Why no Dunn murder verdict?

Angelo Henderson Had "Basically a Heart Attack"

Angelo B. Henderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit radio host who died Saturday, had hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and died from "basically a heart attack," an investigator in the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office told Journal-isms on Monday.


The death of Henderson, 51, was considered to be from "natural causes" because there was "no trauma, no foul play," said Open Shaw, the investigator. Henderson "had a medical history" consistent with the finding that the death was influenced by hypertension, he said.

Henderson died in his home in Pontiac, Mich., and was rushed to the hospital Saturday morning, according to Detroit news reports. He had been off the air after falling on black ice in January, rupturing his quadriceps tendon.


Meanwhile, family members announced that services would take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 24, at Greater Grace Temple, 23500 W 7 Mile Road, Detroit. Visitation will be from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Swanson Funeral Home Northwest, 14751 West McNichols, Detroit. A family hour is planned for 10 a.m. Monday at Greater Grace Temple immediately preceding the service.

Allan Lengel, Deadline Detroit: Angelo Henderson, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Radio Personality and Minister, Dies


New Chicago FM Sports Talk Station Still Hiring

The Chicago radio sports talk wars now have an FM player, as WGN Radio launched "The Game" on 87.7 FM, "moving the conversation about the Bears, the Bulls and Da Coach to the FM band," Robert Channick and Ellen Jean Hirst reported Monday for the Chicago Tribune.


The station debuted with one on-air personality of color, Howard Griffith, who also works for the Big Ten Network, Todd Manley, vice president of creative content, told Journal-isms by telephone.

However, Manley said the station is still building its lineup and would be hiring producers, on-air personalities and sports journalists. Those interested should contact human resources director Chenessa Roberson, he said.


"Taking on WSCR-AM 670 (The Score) and WMVP-AM 1000, 'The Game' will begin at 1:02 p.m. Monday, when the station switches from alternative rock to sports talk ," Channick wrote in advance of the debut. "The new station will be affiliated with the NBC Sports Radio network."

The story also said, "Just after 1 p.m. Monday, at 87.7 FM, the alternative rock station playing the Beastie Boys gave way to Griff & Quigs, a sports show hosted by Howard Griffith and Alex Quigley. . . ."


"While the lineup card may change, former WGN-AM 720 morning host Jonathon Brandmeier is set to run the morning show from 6 to 9 a.m. along with Buzz Killman. Longtime WGN-AM sports talk host David Kaplan, who agreed to a multiyear deal in December, will shift to the FM station from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., co-hosting until noon with Chicago Tribune sports columnist David Haugh.The rest of the day includes Griffith and Quigley from 1 to 3 p.m.; former ESPN 1000 teammates Harry Teinowitz and Spike Manton from 3 to 7 p.m.; Mark Carman from 7 to 10 p.m.; and NBC Sports Radio programming overnight. . . ."

Press Freedom, Rights Groups Urge Morocco to Free Editor

The International Press Institute "joined more than 40 freedom of expression organisations in an appeal to Moroccan authorities for the immediate release of editor Ali Anouzla," the Vienna-based press freedom group said Monday.


"Anouzla was arrested on Sept. 17, 2013 and faces terrorism-related charges in connection with a news article published on the Arabic edition of Lakome.com. The article included a link to a video posted on the website of the leading Spanish daily El País.

"The video, embedded from YouTube, allegedly criticised King Mohammed VI of Morocco, accusing him of despotism and corruption, and called on Moroccan youth to engage in jihad. YouTube has since removed the video. . . ."


The government of Morocco has reached out to African American media organizations, paying for a trip to the country in January by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade group of black community newspaper publishers, and providing $35,000 in sponsorships for the National Association of Black Journalists' Hall of Fame Induction gala on Jan. 16.

Of the $35,000, $10,000 was to be in cash and $25,000 in travel vouchers good for any of 26 cities where the government-sponsored Royal Air Maroc flies. After the gala, however, the NABJ board of directors overturned a staff decision to accept the travel vouchers, citing ethical concerns.


Among the 40 protesting groups are the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

Hanania Tries Again to Organize Arab American Journalists

"There are more than 10,000 people in professional Journalism today ," Ray Hanania wrote Sunday for his new Arab Daily News site.


"Only about 250 are American Arab, and that number includes about 120 who are really business people who publish ethnic Arab and Muslim publications but have no professional journalism training or commitment. They are striving to reflect and repeat the conflict news from the Middle East. Very few of them care about the existence of Arabs in America.

Hanania, who has described himself as "a self-syndicated Palestinian-American columnist, author and standup comedian," founded the National American Arab Journalists Association about 15 years ago. "NAAJA folded in 2013, after 15 years of a struggle to organize American Arabs to recognize their rights and to force the mainstream media to open their doors," he continued Sunday. "You can't blame our supporters for fearing the backlash that they would face if they stood up to defend American Arabs. They would be isolated, marginalized and booted out of jobs, too.


"All you have to do is look around today and see how few American Arab voices there are in professional journalism, to understand that there must be a problem that makes that fact a reality. Yet no one in the mainstream American journalism profession cares.

"I care. That's why I launched the website, The Arab Daily News which strives to be the newspaper of record for American Arabs and gives writers an opportunity to hone their skills as bloggers. Our struggle today is finding experienced journalists of American Arab heritage to write the thousands of features stories and news stories that are out there about American Arabs but that no one else writes, except for a small handful of great publications. . . ."


Comcast Merger Said to Target Residential Internet Market

"Everyone talks of Comcast Corp. in terms of cable TV, and in the hours after the Philadelphia company announced Thursday its $45.2 billion megadeal for Time Warner Cable Inc., Comcast executives signaled to Washington regulators that they were willing to divest three million cable-TV subscribers to obtain approvals for the deal," Bob Fernandez reported Sunday for the Philadelphia Inquirer.


"But for some consumer advocates there was a much more important issue: the power that the combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable will have in the residential Internet market, which many consider to be the delivery platform of the future for video and information into American homes. . . ."

Meanwhile, Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, messaged members, "The $45 billion deal potentially threatens diverse voices. . . . NAHJ has long opposed the consolidation of media companies having witnessed the loss of jobs, diminishing of a competitive market and the standardization of programming.


"NAHJ will work with other like-kind groups to better inform the public and lawmakers about the potential perils of this merger."

"Democracy, Now!" Pacifica Radio: Former FCC Commissioner Warns About Comcast-Time Warner Merger, "Mindless" Media Consolidation


Berin Szoka, Susan Crawford, Gautham Nagesh with Diane Rehm, "The Diane Rehm Show," WAMU-FM, Washington: What A Proposed Cable Mega-Merger Might Mean For Consumers

Supreme Court Reporter Switches to Race Relations

"So, after five wonderful years covering the Supreme Court, I'm moving on," Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press wrote Thursday to his Facebook followers. "As of today, I'm now covering Race & Ethnicity issues for The Associated Press here in Washington. This will be the first time in years that I won't be covering a specific government agency like the White House, Congress or Supreme Court, so I'll now have to think up some good stories on my own. That should be so much fun!"


Holland produced his first piece on his new beat Monday, which included these paragraphs: "America's greatest civil rights leaders may belong to the ages, but the fights among family, friends and outsiders over control of their earthly possessions seem never-ending.

"Unsavory as they may appear, fights like these are not unique, and are exacerbated by the moral heft of the leaders' life work, and the fact that their belongings could be worth millions. With each court battle, civil rights historians worry about the negative impact such infighting might have on the legacy of the civil rights movement. . . ."


Holland is also author of "Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History in and Around Washington, D.C."

Michael H. Cottman, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Family in Crisis: Bernice King Calls Brothers’ Plan to Sell MLK’s Items 'Reprehensible' (Feb. 5)


Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Sale of Martin Luther King Jr. items will cost family too much (Feb.7)

Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Sibling feud tarnishes Martin Luther King, Jr., family (Feb. 8)


Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Sibling rivalry not fit for a King (Feb. 6)

Polk Award Goes to N.Y. Times Series on Child Homelessness

"Andrea Elliott of The New York Times will receive the George Polk Award for Local Reporting for 'Invisible Child,' her riveting five-part series focusing on one of 22,000 homeless children in New York City," Long Island University announced on Monday. "After encountering an engaging 11-year-old girl, Dasani Coates, outside a Brooklyn homeless shelter, Elliott spent 15 months virtually living with Dasani and her family to produce an unsparing inside-out account of the realities of urban poverty that has echoes of Charles Dickens."


The rival New York Post put a "bah, humbug" on the series in a December editorial headlined, "The New York Times' 'homeless' hooey."

The LIU announcement also said, "The George Polk Award for National Reporting will go to Eli Saslow of The Washington Post for six stories delving into the lives of some of the 47 million Americans who receive aid from the $78 billion federal food stamp program, which has tripled in the past decade. Reporting on a corner of Rhode Island where one in three families qualifies for aid, desperate seniors who must be convinced to swallow their pride to apply for aid, a rural Tennessee town where children go hungry when school is out, a Congressman who wants to require recipients to work for food stamps, a Texas county where processed food is so prevalent obesity and diabetes are double the national average and a mother of six in Washington, D.C., facing the largest cuts to the program in 50 years, Saslow has painted an indelible portrait of American poverty."


The judges' most attention-getting choice was the award for national security reporting, given to "four reporters who revealed the extent of secret surveillance and massive data collected by the National Security Agency. . . . The four — from the British newspaper The Guardian and The Washington Post  — were among 30 recipients from 15 news organizations who were recognized in 13 categories for work in 2013. . . ."

Short Takes

"Twitter said Friday that Venezuela had blocked images on its service following an anti-government protest that turned bloody, and it offered a workaround for users who want to get tweets via text message on their cellphones," the Associated Press reported.


The International Federation of Journalists Friday published its full report on the number of journalists and media staff killed across the globe in 2013. "Titled ‘In Mortal Danger: Journalist & Media Staff Killed in 2013', the report provides information on the 105 journalists and media staff who lost their lives in targeted attacks, bomb attacks and other cross fire incidents during the year, while also raising awareness of the continued safety crisis around the globe. There are also updates on 15 accidental deaths recorded last year. . . .

"Miami CBS owned station WFOR has announced Irika Sargent will be joining Rick Folbaum as co-anchor of the evening newscasts," Kevin Eck reported Thursday for TVSpy. He also wrote, "Sargent comes from KPRC in Houston where she is a weekend anchor and nightside reporter. She has also worked in Mobile, AL, Columbia, MO, and London, England. She is currently a member of the New York Bar Association. . . ."


Earl Milloy, a traffic editor at Nokia in Chicago who ran a high school television and journalism program for Chicago Public Schools and had worked as a news production editor for Chicago's WBBM-TV, died Thursday at a Chicago hospital after battling cancer, a cousin, Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy, told Journal-isms. Milloy, then 51, was mentioned in this space in 2007 after a conflict with WBBM in which he was escorted from the station.

"The conversation about race in America has many voices and many points of view," Josh Feldman wrote Monday for Mediaite. "One of those happens to belong to Kanye West, though, and during a New Jersey concert on Saturday night, he stopped to go on a rant against tabloids and the media for how they view him and write about him, saying they’re 'afraid of interracial relationships.' . . .”


" 'Africa's story told to the rest of the world is one of risks and conflict but a lot of people don't know that at this time conflicts account for 5 million deaths in Africa, but they account for 200 million deaths in Asia,' Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, told [journalists] in Cameroon as he ended his first working visit to that Gulf of Guinea country," the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa said on Feb. 5.

"If you were the judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial, would you allow cameras and cellphones into the courtroom?" Anton Harber asked Friday for Biz-Community in Cape Town, South Africa. Harber also wrote, "News media are gearing up in the way they did for Nelson Mandela's funeral, with big plans, budgets and teams. . . . The media will turn it from a murder trial into a spectacle. It is a dream, once-in-a-lifetime narrative: a disabled but photogenic accused admired for his athletic bravado, a beautiful and loved victim, her penniless parents watching helplessly, an arsenal of guns, garages full of fast cars, and a tale of twisted love that went wrong on Valentine's Day. . . ."


The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the Thursday night killing of Brazilian journalist Pedro Palma "and calls on authorities to fully investigate the crime and bring those responsible to justice. Palma was gunned down by two unidentified men on a motorcycle outside his home in Miguel Pereira, a suburb to the south of Rio de Janeiro, and died at the scene, according to news reports. . . ."

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.

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