ANSWER TO JERRY GIRLEY: IF THERE IS A DRED SCOTT RULE, THEN WHY NOT BE LAWFULLY AND LEGALLY ARMED FOR SELF DEFENSE AS A BLACK-AMERICAN MALE WITHOUT ANY FEAR?
- Category: Justice
- Published: Friday, 07 March 2014 22:20
- Written by Attorney taleph Haynes Davis
Attorney taleph Haynes Davis
I have contemplated this entry as a response to my esteemed colleague and fellow member of the Florida Bar, Attorney Jerry Girley. Mr. Girley's "The Dred Scott Rule: Why White Men Get Away with Killing Black Men" (found here with this link on the "communitysteeple.com" website) was first published, apparently, on February 26, 2014.
Since that time, like most small businessmen, I have been busy with my law practice business and ancillary media endeavors (like CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360", and the syndicated "Carl Nelson Show" for Radio One, Inc.) as a legal analyst on the very issue of Florida Statute 776.012, and the "Stand Your Ground" immunity procedural hearing process that clearly has been mistaken and mischaracterized on a number of different instances including, arguably, in Mr. Girley's article. Additionally, I have spoken on those programs as an analyst in order to compare and contrast that statute (776.012) with Florida Statute 776.013 (the so-called "Castle Doctrine) and Florida Statute 776.032 the civil immunity statute which is related to the other two (2) statutes cited above, and hopefully clear up factual mischaracterizations that seem to continue to dominate the discourse on these issues and cases.
Most recently, I have been hosting "Talk Radio 1210, WPHT" Philadelphia Pennsylvania, CBS
Radio's Delaware Valley Talk Radio leader on Saturdays from 6p-9p (the first and only black-American talk show host on the nation's 5th largest market's talk leader) and appearing as a legal analyst on "The Crisis Today" (the NAACP Magazine's radio show) with weekly commentary on WTHE 1520 New York City with the retired Judge the Honorable Laura D. Blackburne who is the host along with running my law practice and everything else trying to "make it happen" here in a free-market economy in America.
Let me also say that I know Mr. Girley on sight professionally and I find him to be a fine attorney. I recall first meeting him at a Paul C. Perkins affair that was held at "Café Annie's" restaurant which is located across the street from the Cornerstone Office Condominium (where I am an owner of fee simple office space, and the first and only black-American business to do so in the history of Orlando) at the corner of Orange and Jefferson Streets, in the downtown Orlando Business district. I found him then, as I do now, to be a very cordial and very professional attorney.
Just recently, Mr. Girley and I sat down to lunch to discuss the issue of Florida Statute 776.012 and the "ancillary" self-defense and "duty of no retreat" statutes, and in general, the issue of the United States Constitutional right and Florida state statutory right of self-defense with lethal deadly as a legal and lawful response to imminent criminal attack and or imminent criminal/bigoted attack on black-Americans.
Mr. Girley and I also agreed to try to organize a public debate on this matter. More on that will be forthcoming as this topic continues to be an important one for better or for worse.
And I respectfully submit this instant response to broaden the debate on the import on Florida's statutory right of self-defense with lethal deadly force without the duty of retreat and it's applicability to the black-American male.
How Mr. Girley used the United States Supreme Court case of Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) is good in theory and for the purposes that he established in his article, in my humble opinion. Mr. Girley and I respectfully disagree in some areas on the issue. Indeed, that is why we have agreed to have this matter debated in the public in an academic setting.
Although Mr. Girley introduced into the discussion a United States Supreme Court decision(Dred Scott v. Sandford 1857) that, at the time, solidified the already established second class-no rights-chattel distinction for black-Americans, the fact of the matter is that the chattel/slave trade and the laws in the colonies and the states were already in effect setting forth the process of institutional racism and bigotry whose effects are still felt, periodically, today in the United States for black-Americans. I will later in this response speak to where I do agree with Mr. Girley as to some of the history and facts of the Dred Scott decision that are indisputable.
However, it appears that the article tacitly suggests that black-Americans should be fearful availing themselves to be able to embrace all laws, rights, privileges and immunities with a presumption of equality. That is how I read the article. I disagree with the notion that black-Americans should be fearful of embracing any of the "trilogy" of Florida's duty of no retreat with lethal deadly force statutes along with the civil immunity statute. The article seems to be one to get the emotions going, granted, and it apparently does, like most articles that conclude that somehow, because of whatever perception is popular at the time, black-Americans should embrace the thinking, ironically, like a second class citizen, and not believe that the embrace of the laws that black-American forefathers and foremothers either have died for black-Americans to be able to embrace, or but for the targeted and bigoted denial of those rights (like the right to use lethal deadly force in defense of imminent criminal bigotry assaults) that black-Americans have died as a result of the law not being availed to black-Americans, that those "laws" are now somehow destined to be "against us." Let me say this plainly and clearly: I reject that type of thinking. For me this thinking is old and played out and suggests that we should be now fearful of acting affirmatively as law-abiding citizens in all matters having to be a law-abiding citizen. The article seems to insinuate that there are rights set forth under this U.S. Constitution or under the state of Florida Constitution that are reserved only for Anglo-Saxons aka "white folks."
On the other hand, one could also argue that, Mr. Girley also was attacking the reasoning of the authors of the legislation, and suggesting that the authors had an insidious reasoning for adding the "duty of no retreat" language to Florida Statute 776.012 in order to "make it easier for Anglo Saxon white folks" to kill black-Americans and "get away with it." I also reject that presumption. Indeed, I do not want to have any duty to retreat for any reason whatsoever when under attack, in that unlikely event. And I don't give one damn if the attacker is white, black, or polka dotted; I want to have the law on my side.
I argue here and now the following: that there is no right set forth under this U.S. Constitution or under the state of Florida Constitution that is reserved only for Anglo-Saxons aka "white folks." If you think like that, then you have succumbed to the very thinking that will keep you in an emotionally second-class citizenship psyche.
This is not, however, taleph Haynes Davis, Esquire arguing that there is NO RACISM AND BIGOTRY IN AMERICAN SOCIETY AND IN AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE!! Indeed, that is why, for instance, in addition to being so pro-2nd Amendment and so pro-self defense, I am also so ANTI- DEATH PENALTY because of the necessarily arbitrary and capricious nature of its application and the disproportionate historical effect on black-American males in the United States.
It is, however, an argument that sets forth why I believe that as a black-American, and in particular, a black-American male, I refuse to leave any right unused or not embrace any civil right set forth by the United States Constitution or any rights set forth by the legislature of the state of Florida. Indeed, everyone knows that I am pro-2nd Amendment (as I am pro ALL CIVIL RIGHTS) and I often ask why, out of all of the civil rights that are available as free thinking black-Americans, why do law-abiding black-Americans seem to forsake the express right set forth in the U.S. Constitution to keep and bear arms and use them LAWFULLY if needed in self-defense against criminals, and or criminal bigots who may attack you?
The late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) is quoted as follows: "Be peaceful, be courteous,
obey the law, respect everyone; but if they put their hands on you, send them to the cemetery." And I could not agree with that statement more, especially today. It is as relevant today, as it was when it was uttered by the late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
Indeed, I subscribe to the "11th Commandment" and that is "Thou Shall Not Make Me Legally and Lawfully Bust a Cap in Your Bigoted Ass if under imminent attack" in this state of Florida as per Florida Statute 776.012 and I like it that way and I am going to fight to keep it that way. And I have the legal and lawful right to do so, without the duty of retreat. I am proud to be able to, in the face of bigotry or an imminent bigoted assault that would bring me bodily harm, or any other criminal act regardless of race, "Stand my Ground." The law of this state in this instance is on my side and I refuse to be afraid of embracing the law (Florida Statute 776.012) as a black-American male in this country and in this state. Mr. Girley's article seems to suggest that black-Americans should be afraid of embracing all rights and in particular the right to self-defense with lethal deadly force lawfully and legally.
Keep in mind, I have written about this before on a national level. See the following link to thegrio.com: http://thegrio.com/2012/12/07/why-black-americans-should-continue-to-bear-arms/
I am very serious about this issue and have been.
And, the notion that, according to Justice Taney in Dred Scott, that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit" and that "He [the Negro] was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it" was established long before the infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857. Indeed, if researched, history will show that the record provides compelling evidence that racism, for instance, underlies gun control laws and as a result, that is the fundamental basis for my support of Florida Statute 776.012 as a free black-American male. I argue that if researched, history will show that gun control was openly stated as a method for keeping blacks and Hispanics "in their place," and to quiet the racial fears of whites. And I argue that now that black-Americans can lawfully and legally keep and bear arms and can lawfully and legally obtain concealed weapons permits and that the 2nd Amendment is also a "civil right", then what the hell is the problem? Why is it that in some segments of thought within the black-American community, it appears that there is this assertion that it is "morally superior" to NOT embrace all of your rights, and in particular, not embrace the 2nd Amendment and all of the gun ownership training and so forth that is legally and lawfully available to you? What does it seem like it is "morally superior" to be unarmed and black-American?
Consider the following:
Years before the Dred Scott decision racist arms laws even predate the establishment of the United States. Starting in 1751, for instance, the French Black Code required Louisiana colonists to stop any blacks, and if necessary, beat "any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane." Furthermore, if a black-American refused to stop on demand, and was on horseback, the colonist was authorized to "shoot to kill." (Thomas N. Ingersoll, "Free Blacks in a Slave Society: New Orleans, 1718-1812", _William and Marry Quarterly_, 48:2 [April, 1991], 178-79.)
In the first North American English colonies, then the states of the new republic, those colonies remained in dread fear of armed blacks, for slave revolts against slave owners often degenerated into less selective forms of racial warfare. The perception that free blacks were sympathetic to the plight of their enslaved brothers, and the dangerous example that "a Negro could be free" also caused the slave states to pass laws designed to disarm all blacks, both slave and free. Unlike the gun control laws passed after the Civil War, these antebellum statutes were for blacks alone. In Maryland, for instance, these prohibitions went so far as to prohibit free blacks from owning dogs without a license, and authorizing any white to kill an unlicensed dog owned by a free black, for fear that blacks would use dogs as weapons. Mississippi went further, and prohibited any ownership of a dog by a black person. (Theodore Brantner Wilson, _The Black Codes of the South_ (University of Alabama Press: 1965), 26-30.)
History will show that restrictions on slave possession of arms go back a very long way. While arms restrictions on free blacks predate it, these restrictions increased dramatically after Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831, a revolt that caused the South to become increasingly irrational in its fears. (Stanley Elkins, _Slavery_, (Chicago, University of Chicago Press: 1968), 220.) Virginia's response to Turner's Rebellion prohibited free blacks "to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, any military weapon, or any powder or lead..." The existing laws under which free blacks were occasionally licensed to possess or carry arms were also repealed, making arms possession completely illegal for free blacks. (Eric Foner, ed., _Nat Turner_, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall: 1971), 115. But even before this action by the Virginia Legislature, in the aftermath of Turner's Rebellion, the discovery that a free black family possessed lead shot for use as scale weights, without powder or weapon in which to fire it, was considered sufficient reason for a frenzied mob to discuss summary execution of the owner. (Harriet Jacobs [Linda Brant], _Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl_, (Boston: 1861), in Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., _The Classic Slave Narratives_, (New York, Penguin Books: 1987), 395-396.)
So therefore, although the Dred Scott decision historically solidified bigotry by and through the
United States Supreme Court's treatment of black-Americans, the bigoted and racist statutory and legislative history targeted to control black-Americans began long before that infamous Supreme Court decision.
Before I go further, let me tell you where Mr. Girley and I agree. Then Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), that ruled, among other things, that black-Americans, having been considered inferior at the time the Constitution was drafted, were not part of the original community of citizens and, whether free or slave, could not be considered citizens of the United States. In Dred Scott v. Sandford, an black-American slave named Dred Scott had appealed to the Supreme Court in hopes of being granted his freedom based on his having been brought by his masters to live in free territories. The Taney Court ruled that persons of African descent could not be, nor were ever intended to be, citizens under the U.S. Constitution, and thus the plaintiff (Scott) was without legal standing to file a suit. The framers of the Constitution, Taney famously wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it." The court also declared the Missouri Compromise (1820) unconstitutional, thus permitting slavery in all of the country's territories. Factually I agree with Mr. Girley's articulation about the facts about the case in his article.
I also agree with Mr. Girley that Dred Scott v. Sandford set into motion the modern acts of targeted statutes that were bigoted and racist operationally and institutionally, for instance, that did not allow for black-Americans to defend themselves with lethal deadly force after Emancipation (see Jim Crow for example) thus leading to the need for black-Americans to only be able to rely upon the 1st Amendment and the 13th Amendment and the 14th Amendment (see the so called "civil rights struggle" and "non-violent social change movement" of the 1960's and the dead and lynched martyrs along the way who, God rest their souls, could not defend themselves but for the racist institution of gun control) in order to make a "more perfect union" in pressing for equal access to all rights afforded by and through the U.S. Constitution.
I also agree with Mr. Girley that in some instances, the history of the belief by SOME whites that, according to Justice Taney, that "that blacks had no rights which the white man was bound to respect" is true for SOME whites but not all.
And Mr. Girley's article speaks of the "angry black males." I also agree with Mr. Girley that society in certain instances has tried to demonize the "angry black male" and as a result, in some instances, black-American males have had "smile when it ain't funny and scratch when it don't itch" just to survive in the greater society.
Well I am THE POSTER CHILD for the angry black-American male. I don't smile when it ain't funny
and I don't scratch when it don't itch. I am black-American, and male, and highly educated, and heterosexual and I own my own business, I do for myself, I own the property that my business is housed, I am proficient as a lawyer, and as a writer, and as a journalist, and as a broadcaster, and as a social policy professional, and as a mental health professional, and I have access to the media locally and nationally and worldwide (with the internet), and I leave no right behind at all and take pride in being legally and lawfully armed every day I live and walk out of my house. Yeah, that makes some people intimidated and I take pride in expressing my positive anger constructively (like writing about it in settings like this and talking about it in a broadcast setting for instance) and I like that comfort level in expressing myself constructively without apology.
And I am an angry black-American male angry about young black-American males dying in Florida, New York, California, and Texas and Illinois and throughout the United States of America as a result of bigoted criminal activity AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IN BLACK-AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOODS ON A DAILY BASIS. I always have, and I always will be angry about that. Indeed, I am angry about black-American males dying as a result of criminal activity or criminal bigoted activity no matter what age we are dying as a result of the aforementioned.
And that is even more reason why I reject the premise that the "trilogy" of Florida's duty of no retreat with lethal deadly force statutes along with the civil immunity statute are bad for black-Americans. To the contrary; I support those statutes and I support the legal right to keep and bear arms and I proudly have a concealed weapons license and I am proud to say that I am lawfully armed every day I walk out of my home.
If those statutes are so bad for black-Americans, then whole constitution is bad for black-Americans which is a ridiculous presumption given the fact that black-Americans take advantage of all of those rights on a daily basis including, respectfully, Mr. Girley.
Again, I argue that there is no right set forth under this U.S. Constitution or under the state of Florida Constitution that is reserved only for Anglo-Saxons aka "white folks." Again, if you think like that, then you have succumbed to the very thinking that will keep you in an emotionally second-class citizenship psyche. In my humble opinion, if you really believe that "African Americans have no rights which the white man is bound to respect" according to the article by Mr. Girley, then you may as well not even come out of your house and just hide in your house and stay in your house and be scared. However, I am just not going to do that and I proudly tell all that read this article that I do not think like that and refuse to think like that.
Indeed we black-Americans are the progeny of those who were once considered chattel. As a result, how the hell can you in any way embrace the act of eroding any right that is afforded to you under this constitution? That is my position, and it shall always be.
Believe me, I am proud and black-American and male and I subscribe to the 11th Commandment: "Thou Shall Not Make Me Legally and Lawfully Bust a Cap in Your Bigoted Ass if under imminent attack." And I do so with no fear that the law is NOT on my side like a free man should.
Again, stay tuned. We are going to have the debate on this topic in a public forum and I thank Mr. Girley for agreeing to debate and participate for the benefit of the public at large.
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