17-Year-Old Black Boy Killed For Playing Music Too Loud

17-year-old Jordan Davis died of racism.

Michael David Dunn, a middle-aged white man, made a comment to a group of four black teenagers that their music was too loud. They began to argue and Dunn fired at the black teenagers’ SUV between eight and nine times. Two shots hit and killed Jordan Davis. Afterwards, Dunn fled; he was arrested and has plead not guilty.

Although Dunn will be making a Stand Your Ground defense, it’s likely to be difficult for him to prove, because even our racist-ass justice system is (one hopes) fairly clear on unarmed teenagers playing their music very loudly not being a form of attack. Nevertheless, that this murder happened at all is pretty freaking racist, ageist, and sexist. Groups of black teenagers listening to music loudly? Well, they’re a gang, they’re thugs, they’re a threat, they’re something any right-thinking middle-aged white person ought to be afraid of. For far too many people, it’s reasonable to believe that a group of black teenagers is liable to attack you– never mind that teenage black guys hang out listening to loud music in thousands of neighborhoods across the country every night, and the vast majority of them never do anything worse than irritate the neighbors’ eardrums.

And sometimes stereotypes like that lead to death.

I do believe that Dunn legitimately felt threatened by black teenage guys arguing with him. Nevertheless, the fact that this is threatening is something that white people need to question. Why do we assume that black men are violent beasts ready to attack at any moment? Why is the same behavior normal on the part of white adults and an act of aggression on the part of black teenagers? Why is the default assumption that a young black man is going to attack or even murder us? Why are we so afraid?

Until we can answer these questions, more boys like Davis will die. And that is not something I want on my conscience.

Photo credit– armin_vogel/Flickr. A single candle of mourning. 

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Comments

  1. wellokaythen says:

    “Nevertheless, that this murder happened at all is pretty freaking racist, ageist, and sexist.”

    Let’s not forget the last item on that list. They were not just shot at for being black or being teenagers. They were also shot at for being male.

    • Lol, I’m pretty sure the whole sexist thing is meant for the fact that it’s easier to shoot at men. Think about it, if it was a group of black females than the old man probably would’ve only ran his mouth.

  2. This makes me absolutely sick. Is there anything we can do?

  3. Man… what a shame…

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Some time back, I mentioned a particular crime which got just about no ink. One GMP commenter said it wasn’t “sensational” (see “Katie Crouse” and make up your own mind), which is why it got no coverage. It’s possible the commenter would rethink his choice of words. However.
    This death gets so much coverage and so much outrage because it’s so rare. The murder-a-day of blacks in Chicago–including women and children who aren’t usually thought of as threatening–gets very little ink because, I suppose, it’s so common as to not be “sensational.
    In fact, this is so rare that dissimilar events have to be hauled in to punch up the number(s).
    Noted Hispanic George Zimmerman, as it happens, is going to sue NBC for defamation of character when they edited a tape of a call to the cops to make him look racist and then pretended that was what had actually happened. The prosecution has finally given to the defense a picture of him beaten and bloody, solid evidence backing up his story. Given this example of the massive media screwup, it might be well to await more facts.
    In this case, Dunn was stupid for arguing about loud music. Some guys like to annoy the public with loud music. Best thing to do is call the cops and lodge a noise complaint. Arguing just confirms they’ve pissed off an old fart. His defense is that he saw–or had reason to believe he saw–a gun. Not sure that will fly.

  5. Thank you for writing this and asking very important questions. Someone always asks if there’s anything they can do; the answer is yes. Ask and answer questions like these honestly and often. Have discussions with yourself and others about your power and privilege, and consider the idea of either sharing it or giving it up for the sake of equality and justice. I’ve yet to come across anyone with white privilege who is willing to have this conversation. I wonder why that is.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Were I an African-American, this post would make me incandescently angry.
    We can be killed by the hundreds, by the thousands.
    And nobody who claims to be sensitive to racism gives a rat’s ass. Until one of us, a very rare one of us, has the good taste to be killed by a white man. That’s the only thing that makes us, or our death interesting.
    Hell, I’m not A-A and I’m mad as hell.
    Little girl named Heaven, age seven, killed in Chicago running for her life when the gangs started shooting. Nothing. She’s a nobody.
    God damn it.

    • Well, it’s harder to argue that someone who got killed by a member of their own race got killed because of racism. Although you might have a point that not enough is being done to prevent those crimes.

      • @ Abubaca … I work with minorities in a residential setting and see this first hand. There is in fact racisms within races.

    • I agree. A racist murder gets front page but the continuous murders/shootings/stabbings/beatings in Chicago continue to be ignored. This Chicago, I would imagine that there are plenty more in other cities like LA and New York that are ignored.
      -Chicago Shootings: 4 Killed, 13 Wounded By Gun Violence
      -Chicago Shootings: 9 Killed, At Least 37 Wounded In Weekend Gun Murders In Chicago: Weekend -Violence Results In Murder Rate
      -40 shootings, 10 homicides reported over holiday weekend in Chicago
      -Another Violent Weekend in Chicago – National

      It was a banner month …. “November ended last week with 36 homicides, down from 39 homicides in November 2011, RedEye data shows.”

      When is it going to be addressed? Kids are killing each other. Innocent people are in the cross fire. What’s being done for these kids and families?

      Victims
      Dec. 4
      – Alexis Stevens, a 23 year old unknown female, caused by a gunshot in Woodlawn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Dec. 2
      – Name Unknown, a unknown male, caused by a gunshot in Woodlawn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Dec. 1
      – Marlon Vaughn, a 28 year old black male, caused by a stabbing in North Lawndale.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Dec. 1
      – Walter Pate, a 29 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Armour Square.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Dec. 1
      – Shemara Fitzpatrick, a 23 year old white female, caused by a gunshot in Austin.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 30
      – William Martin, a 30 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Fuller Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 30
      – Tremayne Franklin, a 33 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Englewood.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 30
      – Aswell Selmon, a 46 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Uptown.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 30
      – Timothy Kinds, a 32 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Chatham.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 28 – Raymond Ogara, a unknown male, caused by a stabbing in Norwood Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 28
      – Darius Hartfield, a 22 year old unknown male, caused by a gunshot in South Shore.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 28
      – Raymond Ogara, a unknown male, caused by a stabbing in Norwood Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 28
      – Darius Hartfield, a 22 year old unknown male, caused by a gunshot in South Shore.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 26
      – Porshe Foster, a 15 year old unknown female, caused by a gunshot in Chicago Lawn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 26
      – Tyrone Scott, a 43 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in West Garfield Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 26
      – Sherman Miller, a 21 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Greater Grand Crossing.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 25
      – Billie Daniels, a 25 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Englewood.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 25
      – Leonard Phillips, a 34 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Near West Side.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 22
      – Christopher Jacobs, a 19 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in New City.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 22
      – Jonathan Belton, a 25 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Gage Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 21
      – William Terry, a 55 year old white male, caused by a stabbing in Roseland.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 21
      – Name Unknown, a 19 year old white male, caused by a gunshot in New City.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 20
      – Keith Shaw, a 22 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Albany Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 19
      – James Holman, a 32 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Washington Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 18
      – Eric Ross, a 23 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in New City.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 18
      – Emilio Palomo, a 16 year old white male, caused by a gunshot in New City.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 17
      – Darius McGraw, a 22 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Chicago Lawn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 17
      – Freddie Hernandez, a 20 year old white male, caused by a gunshot in South Lawndale.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 16
      – Bruce Bennett, a 49 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in North Lawndale.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 15
      – Bryan Lopez, a 24 year old white male, caused by a gunshot in Albany Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 15
      – Joshua Albert, a 26 year old white male, caused by a gunshot in Austin.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 15
      – Sergio Oliva, a 15 year old unknown male, caused by a gunshot in Chicago Lawn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 13
      – Elahmadi Goba, a 40 year old white male, caused by a gunshot in Auburn Gresham.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 12
      – Taylor Fitting, a 16 year old white female, caused by a gunshot in Roseland.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 10
      – Anthony Bagsby, a 20 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in South Shore.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 9
      – Darrell Austin, a 19 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Calumet Heights.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 8
      – Rodney Stewart, a 17 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Ashburn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 7
      – Joshua Lowe, a 20 year old unknown male, caused by a gunshot in Ashburn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 6
      – Rodolpho Hernandez-Bey, a 39 year old white male, caused by a strangling in Avondale.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 3
      – David Kitka, a 29 year old white male, caused by a gunshot in Belmont Cragin.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 3
      – Ismael Perez, a black male, caused by a gunshot in South Deering.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 3
      – Travis Henry, a 19 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Englewood.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Nov. 1
      – Tre Henry, a 19 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Washington Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 31
      – Brandon Johnson, a 30 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in New City.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 31
      – Devin Harris, a 19 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Austin.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 30
      – Earl Cunningham, a 18 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in West Pullman.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 30
      – Derrick Johnson, a 23 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Woodlawn.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 29
      – Elizabeth Pabon, a 36 year old white female, caused by a gunshot in Humboldt Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 29
      – Walter McLemore, a 37 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Uptown.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 29
      – Carlos Alexander, a 33 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in South Chicago.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 28
      – Marcus Freeman, a 21 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Humboldt Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 28
      – Fitz Bariffe, a 68 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Roseland.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 28
      – Marzel Hicks, a 35 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Near West Side.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 28
      – Name Unknown, a black male, caused by a gunshot in Englewood.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 27
      – Johnny White, a 22 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Greater Grand Crossing.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 27
      – Devon Greer, a 21 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Humboldt Park.
      > Read more about this homicide.
      Oct. 24
      – Kenton Morgan, a 28 year old black male, caused by a gunshot in Auburn Gresham.
      > Read more about this homicide.

      I’m not saying this to minimize what this ass wipe did, all I’m saying is that there are many things happening that are not being addressed or shown on the front pages.

  7. Developers^3 says:

    I do believe that Dunn legitimately felt threatened by black teenage guys arguing with him.

    If that’s the case, then their actions meet the legal definition of assault:

    An “assault” is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.

    Mr. Dunn’s stated reason for drawing his weapon and shooting those people wasn’t, “they were playing their music too loud”. It was “they assaulted me”. So, I don’t see how you can believe that Dunn legitimately felt threatened while also saying that someone was killed for playing their music too loud. I don’t see how you can say that Mr. Dunn legitimately felt threatened while you are simultaneously hoping he is convicted of a crime.

    • Developers^3 says:

      On second thought, strike that last sentence. Mr. Dunn did not call for police or EMTs after he safely fled the scene. This might be considered Cupable Negligence or Manslaughter.

    • That is not what assault means at all. Playing music is not the same thing as going up to somebody and saying “do XYZ or I’ll fucking CUT YOU.” Congregating with your black friends while also being black is not the same thing as beating someone black and blue. The only reason to feel intimidated because “the big scary black people were over there listening to their scary black music really, really loud and it made me scared” is RACISM, pure and simple.

      Mr. Dunn is the only person guilty of any crime here. The teenagers didn’t assault anybody, HE DID. With a gun. And it killed a boy who had his whole life ahead of him.

      • Developers^3 says:

        The thing is, Mr. Dunn confronted them about the music. He didn’t open fire just because of some loud music or the fact that they were black and congregating. He opened fire after some sort of argument or altercation. If we hold that Mr. Dunn legitimately felt threatened by black teenage guys arguing with him, this means they must have said or done something threatening.

        • I think the key word you are skipping over is “unlawful”. I don’t know exactly how this jives with the first amendment, so I’ll leave that to the lawyers, but I imaging it takes more then just saying even something as direct as “I’ll hit you” because people say that all the time.

          Also, note that they have to fulfill all three parts of that clause. So, not only do they need to UNLAWFULLY verbally threaten him, but they must also have an apparent MEANS to do so, and also creates a WELL-FOUNDED fear of being assaulted.

          I don’t think that being black constitutes either a means to assault someone or “well-founded” justification of being fearful.

          Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean you have a good reason to feel that way and it certainly doesn’t justify taking a life.

        • “If we hold that Mr. Dunn legitimately felt threatened by black teenage guys arguing with him, this means they must have said or done something threatening.”

          No, it means he felt threatened, not necessarily that they said or did something threatening. There is a clear distinction, especially in a country where white people are more likely to interpret the words or actions of a young black man as threatening.

  8. God, those Stand-Your-Ground cases are appalling. They invite vigilante-ism and basically declare martial law on your property. That’s ridiculous. These laws encourage everyone to shoot-first-think-second.

  9. Funny how no one gives a damn until a white guy harms a black man. Two black men shoot each other? Not news, no one cares. Black man mugs a white man? Not news.

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