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Michael Dunn conviction may set precedent

Last week, Michael Dunn was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Jordan Davis, an African American 17-year-old who was fired at ten times by Dunn for playing loud music in an SUV outside a Jacksonville, Fla. convenience store. The sentence follows Dunn’s initial February trial in which the jury hung, and may serve as a precedent in similar violent crimes which are clearly racially motivated.

From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown to countless less-publicized incidents, the United States has shown itself to be a country largely indifferent to justice for young black men — at least at the level of infrastructure, and surely in the hearts of millions of individuals. George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges last year, and today he is a murderer who walks free.

Meanwhile, the dust in Ferguson is hardly settled, even as mainstream media attention and public attention wane. Michael Brown’s killer, the white cop Darren Wilson, far from being convicted of a crime, has not been charged and is awaiting a grand jury decision on paid administrative leave.

As militarized cops continue to beat down protestors, racists across America have raised over $200,000 in Wilson’s name online, apparently as a sort of extra reward for the murder of a black teenager.

Dunn is the first high-profile case in recent memory that has closed in favor of the black victim. The ruling is especially encouraging considering Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which has often been evoked in such cases, including Zimmerman’s.

The Tartan can only hope that Dunn is the first in a new wave of justified convictions for the murder of young black men which has long been a contentious issue in this country. However, we know too well the short lifespan of the public’s anger over injustice.

The public’s sympathies are limited, since to care deeply and continuously about any important, complicated issue is exhausting to the point of impossibility. Nevertheless, the next Jordan Davis will blast through the papers sooner or later. Detangling the threads of long-held racism in American society requires endurance.