The video below shows Jehrardd Williams, a 28-year-old Fort Myers man, who was the victim of a racist attack in Lee County last year. You won’t see or hear his drunk attackers hurling racial slurs at the Hispanic man sitting next to him at the counter of the Waffle House, or at couple who entered the restaurant at the same time.
It doesn’t show the Waffle House staff ejecting them. But it does show a man throwing a wild sucker punch after Williams declined a peace-offering handshake.
The shirtless man who ran in like Feral Wolverine was named Dakota Fields. Williams, who is licensed to carry a concealed firearm, shot him three times.
Fields died later in a car crash as his crew fled the scene. It’s unclear if it was the crash or the gunshots that killed him.
Curiously, although the video clearly shows a potentially deadly situation that was rapidly escalating, some of the early accounts painted Williams as the aggressor. One witness described Williams as spook and nigger in the police reports.
Another said that Williams had refused to pay his bill. That was false.
And one waitress said that she “knew that Williams was a drug dealer.” I should point out, she doesn’t then go on to describe detailed encounters with Williams when she actually witnessed Williams dealing drugs. This was just a hunch, but one that she was so certain of that she decided to include it in the police record.
Then there was the woman who said that Williams had shoved one of his attackers. This never happened. Had it been admitted in court, though, it could easily been the difference between him being acquitted on the grounds of self-defense, and going to jail for manslaughter.
Though many of the staff corroborated Williams account of the event, enough contradicted it, either out of hatred, racism or misinformation, to put him in prison, if it weren’t for the camera. The video saved him.
I’ve heard dozens of times that Stand Your Ground laws only work if you are a White man standing your ground against a perceived Black threat. Witness these two men. Each one was the subject of a no knock raid. Each took shots at the intruders only to realize that they were police.
About a year ago police in Kileen Tx. obtained the warrant to invade Marvin Louis Gay’s home after an informant said that his house was full of cocaine. They entered a window at 5:30am and he opened fire, killing one officer and injuring one more. Police did find a marijuana grinder and a handgun, but no cocaine. The DA, however, is seeking the death penalty.
Compare this to Henry Goedrich Magee, also of Texas. Police invaded his home based on information that he was dealing marijuana. He shot and killed Sgt. Adam Sowders, saying that he feared for his life, and the life of his pregnant wife. A grand jury refused to indict and within months he was exonerated.
You can read more about each case here.
At any rate, my friends are clearly justified in believing that Stand Your Ground isn’t a privilege that is afforded Black handgun owners. A lot of times it isn’t. Sometimes, however, it is.
Maybe Stand Your Ground isn’t the problem. After all, it’s just a law. The problem comes in when it is interpreted through a layer of stereotypes, misinformation and outright racism. That’s the only reason I can think that Gay is defending his life in the Texas justice system while Magee is home with his newborn daughter.
And it’s the only reason I can think of, that some of the men and women at the Fort Myers Waffle House could watch Williams and several others undergo a barrage of racist taunts and still think that he was at fault for having the self-respect to defend himself.