Friday, April 20, 2012

Marissa Alexander

Wow. 3 posts in one week! I know I should be focusing on final assignments/exams for the semester, but life just keeps distracting me.

I was minding my on business this morning, taking down my hair and attempting to style the lioness’s mane while listening to the radio.  The TJMS to be exact.  This particular segment concerned the plight of a young, black mother in Florida who is facing 20 years in prison for “defending” herself against her verbally and physically abusive husband against whom she'd filed an injunction.  And I use the word “defending” loosely because what she actually did was warn him.  She didn’t even touch him – but we’ll get to that later.

From what I can tell, he entered her home and began to attack her while she was using the, how shall we say, facilities.  She managed to escape to the garage to her car, at which point she realized she couldn’t get the garage door open due to mechanical failure, she didn’t have her car keys and she didn’t have a cell phone to call the cops. She had no other means of egress.

What she did have, concealed in the garage apparently, was a gun – for which she had both a permit and training. According to her personal testimony, found here, her husband and his two sons were supposed to be exiting the house through the front door. She goes back into her home through the kitchen only to find that her husband is still there.  Her husband yells “Bitch, I’m going to kill you,” and charges.

Now, if someone’s just physically assaulted me in my home, and  screamed that they were going to kill me while they’re charging at me in my home – I’m going to fire the weapon I’ve been trained to fire.  I’m going to protect myself.

And that’s exactly what Marissa did. She fired her weapon into the ceiling in warning. Her husband (now ex) fled the domicile. She was denied the right to have her case dismissed under the now notorious “Stand Your Ground” law because, according to Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt she could’ve have escaped through a window, the sliding glass door, or some other exit.  Mind you, this woman had just given birth 9 DAYS ago. Do you really think it’s fair to ask her to slip out through a window?

More to the point, this man was in her house. He was the intruder, and he admitted to being the aggressor. There was an injunction against him and he violated it, thus committing a crime. There is documentation of his physical abuse toward her. But Marissa had to flee? She had a duty to retreat?

Under the “Stand Your Ground” law people who feel threatened have no duty to retreat.  Under this law, they have the right to defend themselves. I’ve included the important bits of Stand Your Ground as they apply to this particular case:
A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
(a)The person against whom the defensive force was used...had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle...and
(b)The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred”

“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Marissa is now charged with 3 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm, and child abuse because she fired a weapon with her child in the house because, according to Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt, she had an opportunity and the means to escape.

Once again, the victim is blamed. Once again, the victim is made out to be a criminal and once again - women's rights, especially in the face of violence directed at them, are abrogated. 

If you do nothing else today, please follow this link to the blog her family has put together for her and follow this link to sign the petition in her honor.  This woman does not deserve 20 years in jail for protecting herself, especially when Florida has granted her the right to Stand Her Ground. 


  1. REALLY?!

  2. It is infuriating isn't it? If I remember correctly, she is to be sentenced this week. I've been checking the internet for updates on the case and will continue to do so throughout the week.