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.
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
New documentary about Trinidadian ‘hero’
NEW YORK — A documentary film inspired by the life of West Indian war hero, jurist and diplomat Ulric Cross is scheduled to be released next year by award-winning Caribbean filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon.
Addressing an audience packed into the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in London last month, Solomon announced that Cross will be the central feature in the 75-minute documentary “A Hero for All Time,” which also highlights the accomplishments of fellow Trinidadian legends George Padmore, C.L.R. James, Henry Sylvester Williams, Learie Constantine and Jamaican Una Marsden.
From an ordinary Belmont childhood in colonial Trinidad, Cross vaulted the barriers of color, race and class to realize his extraordinary destiny. The most decorated West Indian Squadron Leader of World War II, Cross was a navigator with the elite Pathfinders Force of Britain’s Royal Air Force and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for meritorious service during wartime combat and the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial exercises.
After the war, he trained as a lawyer, worked as a producer at the BBC, then went on to shine in key advisory roles in three newly independent African states as a trusted advisor to President Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, attorney general in Cameroon and as an advisor to President Julius Nyerere in Tanzania.
He returned to Trinidad to serve his country as judge, mediator and diplomat before heading back to Britain as Trinidad and Tobago’s high commissioner in the 1990s. In 2011, Ambassador Cross received the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the highest honor of the twin island Caribbean state.
Reflecting on Cross’ accomplishments, acclaimed actor Rudolph Walker, the film’s U.K. patron, stressed the importance of role models.
“We need to tell our stories, especially for the benefit of our young people and the generations to come,” said Walker, whose Rudolph Walker Foundation provides theatrical training to inner-city youth in the U.K..