Is Marissa Alexander the next Trayvon Martin?
Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson spent an hour on Tuesday with the Florida woman convicted of attempted murder for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband, Rico Gray, in 2010. Alexander then tried to cite Florida’s “stand your ground” law in her defense, but this was not allowed by the judge. After turning down a plea deal to serve three years in prison, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In an exclusive interview, Jackson told the Daily Beast about the time he spent with Alexander visiting with her and praying together. He described Alexander as weeping as she narrated how Gray previously beat her so severely when she was pregnant that it caused her to give birth prematurely.
To Jackson, the prosecution of Alexander by Angela Corey, the same attorney who oversaw the case against George Zimmerman, was a travesty. As Jackson described to the case to the Beast, “[Alexander] was angry and afraid. She got a pistol. If she had been trying to kill him, she had been at point-blank range. [Instead she] shot at the wall or the ceiling.” Jackson went on to scoff at Corey’s argument that by shooting at the wall, Alexander “could have hurt someone in the next room.”
Jackson also weighed in on the verdict in the Trayvon Martin trial, especially in light of the interview of one of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman, with Anderson Cooper. In Jackson’s opinion, the lack of African-Americans on the jury or elsewhere in the courtroom was particularly problematic. As he told the Daily Beast, “The only person who was black involved in the trial was Trayvon.”
The contrast between Alexander and Zimmerman particularly weighed on Jackson and “the discrepancy” in their treatment. He had difficulty understanding why “the guy who murdered Trayvon, killed him, is walking free with the gun [he used to shoot Martin] back in the holster and a woman who shot no one is facing 20 years in jail.”
Jackson did take pains to condemn those “people in their immaturity who are showing their anger” about the verdict by actively disrupting and destroying property. As an alternative, the civil rights activist urged them to channel their rage to registering to vote, which is important not just for its own sake but also to insure that jury pools draw from a wide and more representative group of Americans.
“Trayvon will be a big factor” in an upcoming march on August 24 to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, said Jackson. The verdict, combined with what Jackson described as “the evisceration” of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder, will “turn a commemoration into a march.”