By Mahogany Linebarger
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
In the aftermath of Florida v. Marissa Alexander, civil rights and justice groups began to form a movement.
Alexander is a mother of three, the wife of an allegedly abusive husband, a Florida resident and now, a woman serving 20 years in prison for shooting a warning shot in the ceiling of the apartment she rented with her husband.
In a 2010 incident, Alexander had an altercation with her husband, Rico Gary, during which she felt that her physical well-being and life were being threatened. Alexander fired a warning shot into her ceiling, not injuring anyone. After being arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with attempt to cause injury to another person with a dangerous weapon, Alexander was convicted and sentenced to 20 years.
Alexander received a drastic sentence as a result of the “10-20-Life” minimum sentence law. This law was implemented in 1999 as a solution to gun violence in Florida. The legislation states that anyone in the midst of committing a felony who shows a gun gets an automatic 10 years added to their sentence.
At the sentencing, Alexander’s family pleaded with Judge James Daniel to show leniency, but he said that the decision was “out of my hands.”
Alexander and her attorneys claimed self-defense and even tried to apply the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. Under that law, a person under attack has the right to meet force with force to equal proportions. Florida residents are not required by the law to retreat, and Alexander testified saying she tried to escape her husband through the garage, but it was locked. Alexander’s attorneys tried to explain that she felt threatened by her husband and chose to “stand her ground” and scare him away with the warning shot, but in the end, the judge denied Alexander’s request for a retrial.
In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trail, which found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter though he fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, organizations are beginning to form movements. These movements are calling for people to be informed and speak out against the arbitrary use of laws like Stand Your Ground and 10-20-Life.
The central Florida Chapter of the National Action Network, founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, scheduled a community event for Thursday. The “No Justice No Peace” event was put together by chapter President Lawanna Gelzer to bring attention to what she calls “the other Trayvon Martins.” The community forum, hosted by the Fight Back Coalition and Women of Color Leadership Coalition and NAN-Central Florida, will allow for citizen of the state of Florida to come and speak about the verdict of the Zimmerman trail.
The event will also spend time bringing attention to people like Alexander, because, according to Gelzer, she is one of the other Trayvon Martins. Friends and family members close to Alexander will be at the event to speak about her story and the injustice she faced under these controversial laws.
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