As We Watch the Trayvon Martin Case, All of Us Should Know Marissa Alexander

As we look at the drama surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, we encourage folks to connect the dots and pay attention to other cases to get an idea on how justice is elusive for some and the working quite well for others.. Yesterday we saw how George Zimmerman was granted bail after giving a half-hearted, insulting, insincere apology to the Martin family for profiling, stalking and eventually killing their son..

What we didn’t hear about was a how an African-American women who in the course of protecting herself from an abusive husband who beat her while she was pregnant, shot a gun that she legally owns into the air. No one was hurt, but she is now looking at 25 years. Yes indeed, you read that right, facing 25 years.. Her name is Marissa Alexander, she lives in Florida, is a mother of 3 and everyone should know her name and her case.The person who prosecuted her case is Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case.

Here’s a letter that was written on her behalf laying out the details… As you read this letter ask yourself the following questions:

Where is the NRA on this case? Don’t they have supporters who come to the aid of people like Alexander, a legal gun owner who used a law they designed to protect herself, or was she supposed to actually shoot her husband?

Where’s the folks behind ALEC who pushed for Stand Your Ground Laws, not just in Florida but in other states around the country?

Where are all the folks speaking loudly about the injustice around Trayvon, but silent on Marrissa Alexander, because they choose to see Trayvon in isolation and not connected to the larger system of continual injustices impacting Black people and people of color all over the country?

Here’s the letter….

April 3, 2012

Dear Supporters:

On August 1 2010, my premature baby girl, born nine days earlier, was in the Baptist South N.I.C.U. fighting for her life and I would too be fighting for my life in my own home against an attack from my husband.

My name is Marissa Alexander, I am a mother of three children, but at the present time, I am not able to be with them due to the following circumstances.  I am currently sitting in the Pretrial Detention Facility in Jacksonville FL, Duval County awaiting a sentence for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm.

Before my life changed drastically on that August afternoon, I was in the perilous position of leaving an abusive relationship with my husband who has history of violence and documented domestic abuse towards women.  Our history included one which required me to place an injunction for protection against violence and was active during the month of August 2010.

In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom.  He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave.  After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing.  I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out.  For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit.  Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave.  Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave.  Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself.  I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened.  The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch I will kill you!”, and charged toward me.  In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling.  As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home.  Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons.  The police arrived and I was taken into custody.

I was devastated and would continue to be for months following the incident.  I had to appear in court all the way up until trial as I plead not guilty and know that I acted in self-defense.  I believe my actions saved my life or prevented further harm, but preserved that of my husband who was completely irrational, extremely violent, and unpredictable that day.

Florida has a self-defense law and it includes the right to stand your ground.  Below are the facts of my concern with the incorrect way the law was applied and ultimately the injustice in my case.

·        The alleged victim, my husband, under sworn statement in November 2010, admitted he was the aggressor, threatened my life and was so enraged he didn’t know what he would do.

·        The alleged victim, my husband, was arrested for domestic violence two times, once for abuse against me.  The attack against me was so violent; I ended up in the hospital.

·        Prior to my arrest, I told the office I was in fear for my life due to the prior violence against me.  I also told the officer there was a domestic injunction in place to protect me against abuse from the alleged victim.  This information was written in detail by the officer in my arrest report, but ignored for some unknown reason.

·        In July of 2011, a hearing was held, where I along with the alleged victims testified as it relates to the stand your ground law and its immunity from prosecution.

·        After the hearing, Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt denied my motion, citing that I could have exited the house thru the master bedroom window, front door, and/or sliding glass back door.  The law specifically states: No duty to retreat.

·        My attorney entered a standing objection on the record to the ruling and we proceeded to trial.

·        During that time, Angela Corey, our State Attorney met with the alleged victims.  I also along with my attorney met with Angela Corey, John Guy, and then prosecutor Christen Luikart.  I justified my actions to them and the truth as I have told it has remained the same.

·        Knowing our prior domestic abuse history, Angela Corey was hard pressed for the minimum mandatory, which provisions allow for prosecution to wave those stipulations.  I was not guilty, nor did I believe that was fair and just under the circumstances.  She also allowed for those same provisions in the State vs. Vonda Parker, same charges different circumstances which did not include self-defense.

·        Florida uses a law commonly known as 10-20-life as a sentencing guideline when a felony takes place with the use of a weapon.  Under this statute, my felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to harm carries a twenty year mandatory sentence.

·        Stand your ground law has been applied in multiple recent incidents, the following is just a couple of incidents.  Carl Kroppman Jr was allowed to use this law to avoid being arrested/charged during a road rage incident on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville, FL in August of 2011.  Marqualle Woolbright of Ocala, FL avoided murder charges due to the stand your ground law when he shoot and killed someone.

I am a law abiding citizen and I take great pride in my liberty, rights, and privileges as one.  I have vehemently proclaimed my innocence and my actions that day.  The enigma I face since that fateful day I was charged through trial, does the law cover and apply to me too?

A step further and more importantly is in light of recent news, is justice for all include everyone, regardless of gender, race or aristocratic dichotomies.  I simply want my story heard, reviewed and the egregious way in which my case was handled from start to finish serve as an eye opener for all and especially those responsible for upholding judicial affairs.

The threat that day was very real, imminent, and the battery on me occurred minutes before the decision I made to protect myself.  That decision was a last resort, necessary and a reaction to the continued threat on my life.  I am a believer that grace allowed for my response to be carried out in a non-lethal manner.  This prevented the imminent threat and harm a non-fatal tactic, but not against an unknown attacker, rather my very own husband.  That was by far the most difficult position to be in nine days after giving birth to a six week premature infant.  My heart goes out for my two stepsons and always has had a hurt and sincere empathy for them being subjected innocently to that trauma.

The law states that I was justified in standing my ground and meeting force with force up to including deadly force, but political views and concerns states otherwise in the 4th circuit court.

So my last questions and valid concerns are what was I supposed to do that day and the stand your ground law who is it for?

Sincerely,

Lincoln B. Alexander Jr on behalf of Marissa Alexander

You can get more info on this case my going to: http://justiceformarissa.blogspot.com/

Suge Knight think 2Pac is Alive-Could You Imagine What Pac Say if he was Here Today??

The past couple of days everyone’s been bugging off the fact that Suge Knight during an interview on LA radio station KDAY asserted that he thinks 2Pac is still alive..He noted that ‘no one has actually seen the body’ and that he gave Pac 3 million dollars in cash just before he perished or in Suge’s case, ‘disappeared’. . We think Suge just said that all this to get everyone talking about him..

Over the years the former Death Row CEO has long been coy about all the rumors and speculation of Pac being alive.. The mystique around this has been nothing but beneficial for Suge and many others in the industry. Pac was our Elvis, who has also been rumored to still be alive. I’m sure at the end of the day Suge has a project or two coming down the pipe..He of all people knows better..

On the other hand, it’s interesting seeing the huge amount of interest Suge’s remarks have garnered because it speaks to a much bigger issue. One has got to take note about all the fame, fortune and popularity 2Pac has garnered in death vs being alive. Why are some of our best and brightest worth more dead than alive?  Are dead Black artists ‘safer’? Are they more ‘controlled’? Does their absence represent huge voids in the type of leadership, many may be yearning for?

So many really want 2Pac to be around. They want him to be alive, because in contrast to many others who have that level of popularity,  Pac was one to speak out forcefully and unapologetically to keen issues of the day.

While it was great seeing the video of his hologram, for those of us who knew Pac it was too limiting. By that I mean, think about what 2Pac would’ve said before tens of thousands of people today in 2012 if he was alive and on stage at Coachella. he would’ve done more than hype the crowd.. You don’t think 2Pac wouldn’t have seized the moment and spoke on the Trayvon Martin situation? I could hear Pac speaking out loud and forcefully about George Zimmerman and his weak apology. You don’t think Pac would’ve put President Obama on blast for reneging on promises or not speaking out enough on keen issues facing young Black males?

People keep forgetting that a couple of months before 2Pac died he, Snoop and MC Hammer spoke at an NAACP Press conference in Beverly Hills, where they promised to energize and politicize their fans and have them ‘throw monkey wrenches into future elections’.. Pac had long had sharp critiques of those sitting in elected office.

You don’t think Pac would’ve spoken out on all the overt racism coming in the forms of Fox News anchors or far right-wing radio jocks..Heck, one but can’t help thinking that if Pac was around today, he might’ve had some critiques of Suge but that’s another story. The bottom line is many who miss Pac, miss him because he was one of those folks who was down to speak truth to power and do so eloquently.

In the meantime.. check out these clips including one that shows another angle of the ‘2Pac Hologram’ (yes we know it’s not a real hologram). From this angle, I gotta say what appeared on stage the other night in Coachella is really impressive.. I can see why folks are thinking about taking this on tour..You really can’t tell the difference from a real life performer and this ‘hologram’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMcLaEwkfGc&feature=relmfu

Here’s a couple of videos to check out of 2Pac.. We often forget dude was 25 when he left us..He was already sharp and getting sharper..  He was well on his way to doing bigger and better things..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMi3Zvb9eQo

This is the speech Pac gave at the Malcolm x Grassroots Movement dinner..He was on fire here..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex4PtkmLvgo&feature=related

An Interview w/ Ise Lyfe on Business, Haters and Leadership

This is a great article interview  w/ Bay Area artist Ise Lyfe.. He offers some keen insight in the arenas of leadership, starting your own business and the complex relationship those who are in the ‘struggle’ have with making money.. It initially appeared in Nor Cal Magazine..

On starting your own business:  

The business you start should be an organized expression of your spiritual self. Essentially this means that you should start a business that provides you with an opportunity to make money being who you naturally are. If you are working for someone else before or while you’re starting your own business don’t resent that. Don’t get too comfortable there either… But while you’re there my advice is to seek out and focus on interacting with experiences and people that are involved with things that trigger your passion.

When I started LP my vision was to create a company that made education provocative. I also wanted to be a part of producing events and products that were hella fresh and good for people; where entertainment and progressiveness went hand and hand. I’m living that now, but it didn’t begin that way. I’ll even admit that the first couple years I didn’t even know if it was possible.

The key was finding professional confidence in the way that people were reacting to me. You see, if your business is TRULY an organized expression of your spiritual self, then if people connect with you they’ll probably connect with your business or product! People often misstep when they pose or bend in attempt to survive in the market. This causes them to be looked over by most and ignored. When you’re posing, lying, or over compromising you’re not being yourself. Your self is the foundation of your business. Foundations are made of concrete and steel, not plastic and fluff. Trust that you’re great and step out with that.

On Getting Money:

It’s rarely discussed, but people who are considered “conscious” or socially aware have a real complex about making money, keeping money, and being financially astute. Somehow “struggling” is viewed as a badge of honor. But if you say things like “I’m committed to the struggle” and you struggle your whole life- then you have won in your task to stay struggling and should be happy with that.

I am of the knowledge that some struggle is divine and inherit to the beauty of life. However, the centuries of struggling that our people have gone through are nothing to marry or commit to. I believe that our commitment should be to always be one with and an advocate for our own personal salvation and the salvation of all people struggling. But if I was on a stretcher coughing (struggling) and the doctor walked in coughing over me (struggling) I wouldn’t think “Yo, that’s what’s up, we in this cough thing together!” No… I’d be like damn can we get somebody in here for both of us!? This fool has germs! 🙂

I make a lot of money. Especially compared to most educators and independent artist out there. In fact, many independent artist are also educators either in the classroom or in after school programs as either a passion or just a way to make ends meet while they’re waiting for their careers to take off. Sadly, most of those folks live financially challenged, which is a tragedy because they offer so much goodness. Not only am I an independent artist and an educator, but my work is deemed “conscious.” This makes my particular status of wealth really rarefied air because in general if you show me a “conscious” artist I’ll show you a broke person!  However, there are a lot of folks out there with a powerful, conscious, and necessary message that are making money and doing what they love at the same time. Not only that, what they love to do is good for other people too! But they do not speak on and will even deny their wealth. Part of it comes from humility, but I believe much of the secrecy is due to guilt and or how misinformed bozo’s in the community will put them down or condemn them for not being broke.

The biggest lie artist are told is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) make real music and be heard and successfull. Hell (heaven), I was sitting in my office with six staff members, fresh off a tropical vacation, with two cars parked underneath me in the garage (all financed by my “conscious” work) and a music industry cat looked me dead in my face and said, “Ise, nobody wants to hear that conscious s*^%…” I would argue that nobody wants to hear that dumb s*^%, but its all that gets played… Imagine if a mother stopped up all the water faucets in her home, never exposed her children to water, and only gave them double chocolate milkshakes to drink. Then, as her kids got fatter and more out of shape the mother says, “What can I say, they ain’t with that water s*^%…”

Here’s some math:

Jill Scott- 4,192,900 albums sold
Erykah Badu– 5,018,000 albums sold
Lupe Fiasco– 3,500,000 albums sold
India Arie– 10 million albums sold worldwide
Common– 2,727,000 albums sold

Clearly, some people do wanna hear a different message…

So what I’m saying is if you are an Artist or anybody striving to live your dream you need to shamelessly ball on these fools. If you are a good person with morals and ethics your good fortune and abundance will naturally be a positive thing for your community. It will empower you to employ people, donate to youth, support family members, invest in projects you believe in, support organizations, and inspire others. These are all things that I’ve experienced first hand and they are the cornerstones of bliss in my life.

On haters:

Haters baffle the player because we cannot at all relate to their existence. By player I mean people who are actually manifesting and progressing in life. Haters normally are just bothered by people who remind them of what they’re not doing. I use to try to win the hearts of haters by trying to reason with them. I realized though that it is impossible to reason with a hater because reason takes rational thought and honesty. Haters are filled with no rational thought and won’t honestly confront how wack they’re being, so there is no point in even approaching the conversation.

An adviser once told me, “Ise, when you argue with a fool after awhile it gets hard to tell who the fool is.” So keep it pushing and be grateful to be one of the few players in this world of puzzled ass lames. If you’re a hater and you’re reading this I send you my love and encourage you to tap into your inner light and believe in yourself. You can do anything!

On being in leadership:

First off, as children most of us are told that we are “The leaders of tomorrow!” Ehh, I disagree. Everyone is not a leader. That may sound harsh but it is reality. However, many people want to be in leadership roles because we live in a society that has a verticle view of roles and power that puts leadership “on top” and everyone else “beneath.” So naturally many people desire to be viewed as leadership but do not desire or have the ability to carry out the responsibility that comes with the role.

I’ve visited parts of the world where all roles are placed in a circle, not stacked on top of each other. So leadership roles are right beside the other EQUALLY important roles that make up systems. The first key to being a great leader is understanding that your role as leader does not mean you are higher up, superior, or better than the other people you are working with. This thinking contradicts terms that we normally hear like “This is my superior in the company”, “Upper management”, and ”Lower tier.”

Being the leader of a company, project, or family simply means that your job is to have a fully encompassed understanding of everything that is happening while bringing out and supporting the best attributes of the people and elements that you are working with.

To survive as a leader you have to keep your emotions in check at all times. Leadership responsibilities will stir up all sorts of emotions in you!
Some are good: Passion, joy, happiness, satisfaction…
Others not so good: Rage, fear, disappointment, confusion…

Thing is, any emotion whether its one that feels good or one that feels bad can blur your vision and affect your judgment as a leader. Make moves and decisions based on what’s best for the goal, not based on what makes you feel best.

This part is important:

Many people who once loved and admired you, promised you loyalty, and who owe a lot of their success to you will at some point resent you, not be impressed by you, fear you, and may even betray you. This is not your concern in relation to leadership, but because it will affect you it is important to be prepared for this. Don’t take it personally (though it will hurt like shit at times), it comes with the territory.

People question and curse God, so of course they’ll question and curse something much smaller in comparison like an earthly leader. My aim is to make sure that everyone that comes into contact with me as a leader leaves more informed, experienced, and better equipped to fulfill their purpose than they were when they arrived. No one has ever left my company and this not be the case. Doesn’t matter if they feel great about me or have some different feeling, the fact is that they are better now because of being in contact with me and that is what matters (whether they’ll admit that or not).

For example there’s a person who was fired from my company that went on a pointless tirade of trying to slander me and our company. They even stole out of our office and tried to hold our property at ransom for a payout. We all just shrugged and laughed and kept pushing forward. But the real reward (beyond the good laugh) is that I know I impacted this person’s life and put them on a path they NEVER would have been on if they had never worked for me. Before being at LP they were doing menial cubicle drone work and were  miserable. They were inspired while at my company to start their own company and even named it after a nickname I gave them. So now, even when they’re off speaking ill of me, every time they say their company’s name they have to think of me! If they change the name because it reminds them of me they’ll have to think of me as the reason they changed the name.

 So you see, leadership is not about popularity or being loved- even though it is sublime to have that experience. Your job is to support people in maximizing their human potential. Its good for business and good for the world.

……………………………………………………………

Ise Lyfe (Oakland, CA) is an HBO Def Poet, Educator, and Executive Director of Lyfe Productives- a social marketing and education firm focused on product development. 

ISE LYFE BREAKS DOWN ALL 20 ITEMS IN THE PHOTO SELECTED FOR THIS ARTICLE AND WHAT THEY MEAN TO HIM: 

 

1. Jay-Z’s “Decoded” is a fresh textbook. It reveals and reminds us all that Hip-Hop like all other art comes from a foundation of humanity and struggle.

2. It is hard to see it in the shot but this book is a book of poetry by Marcus Garvey. It reveals Garvey as an Artist and true user of heart.

3. This book “Freedom” is a picture history of Black people in the United States from slavery to present day. It is impressively thorough and touching.

4. “The Missing Piece Meets the BIG O” is the best book I’ve ever read on relationships. I want to read it to someone.

5. As an emcee it was a trip to record an audio book. The 1st time I saw it on a shelf at Barnes & Noble was surreal. I never would’ve imagined that. Lesson learned…

6. This is a copy of my 1st book, “Pistols & Prayers. I dedicated it to my mother, which was a great feeling. I hope it makes up for all the janky hand made birthday cards when I was a kid!

7. Prince Cometh

8. I’ve had this rhyme bad since I was 17. It hasn’t even been on purpose that I’ve kept it. It just always resurfaces wherever I’m at. Thought i’d add it to the heap…

9. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a thorough indictment of the exploitation of Africa for western world benefit. Out of all the books in my home this is probably the most significant one I have in relation to understanding the deliberate attack on Africa.

10. The Husia is love.

11. Solid gold from Mali…

12. This is the 1st copy printed of my 1st albim, “spreadtheWORD”. I remember how juiced I was to open it up and play it for the first time. Having this in my house reminds me to not get jaded and stay enthusiastic about everything.

13. I think the reconciliation of Malcolm and Martin is so deep on so many levels. Forget whatever beef you might have in the streets, these brothers were beefing over the destiny of our people and found a way to move through their differences and set eyes on a common goal.

14. Every morning when I rise I sit up and check in spiritually. The first thing you do in the morning should not be checking Twitter on your cellphone! Anyway, sage always centers me and genuinely holds power.

15. I never walk around with this much money on me, nor do I keep it in my house. In the hood you learn to keep hella g’s on you to floss but as you mature you learn that that isn’t what’s up. Money isn’t power, it is a manifestation of power. For intensive purposes though I pulled several (several) thousands in cash out to authenticate what I knew would be in the article. Then it was right back to the bank cousin…

16. 789= Balance Infinite Completion

17. I keep it modest on the designer/name brand tip- but I’ll admit that I’m weak for Ray-Bans. I WON’T ADMIT HOW MANY i’VE BOUGHT…

18. One day

19. This is Steve Jobs. I read his biography four times. Homie was flawed as we all are, but he never relented in building what he saw in his mind and making it a reality. I’ve studied and I’m learning from his successes AND mistakes.

20. WEAR condoms.

Peace, this has been fun.
Ise