Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill
Washington, D.C. – Marissa Alexander’s plea deal provides a large measure of relief to her family and her supporters in Florida and around the globe. She will not spend the rest of her life in prison. She will be with her loved ones by the end of January. But it is not the justice she deserved. She should never have been prosecuted in the first place.
Alexander, an African American mother of three, fired a warning shot at her estranged husband as he was threatening to kill her. She fired into the ceiling, and no one was harmed. At the time of the incident, Alexander’s husband was under a protective order because of his repeated abuse of her, including a beating less than a month earlier that caused the premature birth of her third child.
Alexander invoked Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but prosecutor Angela Corey and the Florida courts insisted that law did not apply to Alexander because in their opinion she fired the warning shot in anger rather than fear.
The prosecutor is the same Angela Corey who, notoriously, allowed a stand-your-ground instruction to go to the jury in George Zimmerman’s trial in the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American. Zimmerman, who is white, was acquitted. Corey, who is also white, went after Alexander with a shocking vengeance, seeking a 60-year sentence.
The day we learned of Marissa Alexander’s plea deal is also the day the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decided that Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 19-year-old African American, will walk scot-free because his act was “justified.”
What kind of post-racial society are we living in, when the law denies Black women the right to defend themselves against their abusers, while allowing white police officers to kill Black teenagers with impunity?
NOW will continue to work with our allies to end the pattern and practice of over-policing and under-protection that results in police brutality and prosecutorial abuse aimed at women and men in communities of color.
Elise Coletta , firstname.lastname@example.org , (951) 547-1241