The National Institute for Restorative Justice
"Educating for Advocacy"
15226 Lakeshore Blvd
Cleveland, Ohio 44110

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Mittie's Musings: A Message From The Chair
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the
strength, the patience,
and the
passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
Harriett Ross Tubman
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Photograph by Jeff Ivey
There are thirty-one states and counting that have some form of the Castle Doctrine
on record in the United States, including “Stand Your Ground” and “No Duty to
Retreat” laws.  Laws that allow for justifiable use of deadly force to protect a citizen’s
“habitat,” if the occupant “reasonably believes” that an intruder poses a threat to his or
her life.  They are laws that shield calculating murderers, providing them with
immunity from both criminal and civil prosecution.  

The laws have origin in the Medieval European concept that a man’s castle is his
home.  As a victim and survivor of a home invasion, I am all for protecting and
defending my life and my home.  But, just as corporations are not people, (contrary to
the supreme law of the land), the last time I looked, the common streets of a gated
community does not translate into the definition of someone’s private domain.  

Oh, that’s right.  In Florida, the “No Duty To Retreat” applies to anywhere you take
your stand.  

As the old folk would say with regard to inexplicable insanity, “My Lord!”

It is under the “Stand Your Ground, No Duty To Retreat” law that a “hunt ‘em down,
smoke ‘em out” cowboy Bush mentality (yeah, he said it), redneck racist is covered
for the cold-blooded execution of a young boy on his return from an evening stroll to
a convenient store to buy a cup of iced tea and a box of Skittles.  
                                            Sadly, Trayvon Martin is not the first unarmed young black man to be shot down
                                            like a mad-dog in the streets by legally and self-appointed law enforcers.  Thanks to
                                            the NRA and other anti-life organization backed “shoot first” laws, it is open season
                                            on black men and boys in America.  In Florida, homicides - justified as self-defense -
have tripled since the inception of the law.  And in virtually every case, the murderers have walked free.  

Despite all evidence provided through audio transcripts of frantic neighbors reporting Trayvon’s screams for help to the Sanford
911 operators, George Zimmerman claimed, and the police supported, self-defense in chasing and shooting down a seventeen
year old, unarmed youth.   

George Zimmerman is not the problem.  He is just a puss-infected symptom of the ugly manifestation of a highly contagious
disease of epidemic proportion in America.  A disease that has festered and boiled over during the past four years:  sick,
debilitating beings showing up in front of the White House armed to the teeth, with images depicting the lynching the the
President of the United States in effigy, while calling him a monkey and a coon.  

Nah, George ain’t Jack!  Nonetheless, I am the first to agree that he, and the Sanford Chief of Police, need to be tarred,
feathered and left tied to a tree.  I’ll stop there, because I cannot stoop to the devil’s despicable act of murder by lynching,
which historically followed the tarring and feathering of black men in the south.  Just tar them, feather them, tie them to a tree in
front of the injustice center of Sanford - the Seminole County Courthouse.  Then, let the warrior spirit and medicine of the non-
surrendering Seminoles, Oceola and Abiaka, rise up and take it from there.

The issue is not George Zimmerman, ignorant men like him come a penny a dozen.  Rather, the issue is the law.  Laws
supported by a website complete with an online store to purchase security signs, tee shirts, window stickers and even “hoodies,”
all bearing a pistol and the wording: “Warning! Protected by the Castle Doctrine.  No Duty to Retreat.”  Welcome to the good ole
boy’s Dodge City, Death Valley vision of America.  

911 Dispatcher:  “(Mr. Zimmerman), are you following him?”  
Zimmerman:        “Yes.”  
Dispatcher:        “We do not need you to do that.”

“Hunt ‘em down.  Smoke ‘em out.”  Execute them.  Walk free.

The good new is we’ve had bad laws on the books before that have been overturned.  The bad news is that no sooner than we
get rid of one, another rears its ugly head.  It requires diligence: unwavering commitment, untiring work, and unselfish sacrifice
to keep moving us forward.  That is the legacy of the four legendary leaders The National Institute will focus on in our spring
discussion series, Organizing A Movement, Struggling to Freedom: The Legacies of Randolph, Houston, Marshall and Baker.”  
The series will explore the life and work of organizers Asa Philip Randolph, Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall and
Ella Baker.  We will be guided in the discussions by twelve brilliant young and seasoned scholars, a sitting federal judge, and a
retired state supreme court judge.  The syllabus follows.  Details regarding our discussion guides can be found on the series page
of our website link below.  

At first thinking, I avoided the use of the word “struggle” for our series, although it shows up in two of the three titles of our
texts.  But then I remembered the heeding of the great abolitionist and statesman, Frederick Douglas,
“without struggle, there
can be no progress.”   

Indeed, “struggle” is not a bad word.  Rather, it is a bold action to endeavor, strive, resist and withstand.  In the face of  an
American judicial system that is retreating from civilized human rights laws of equal protection, and embracing antiquated wild-
west laws like Florida's “Stand Your Ground Law,” and Colorado’s “Make My Day Law” (are they for real?), it is critical that
we learn the strategies for withstanding the wave of hatred and ignorance, while ever working toward social, economic and legal
change.

Our slogan is “Educating for Advocacy.”  The purpose of our book discussion series is not for intellectual masturbation.  Sorry
folks, but it best describes what I want to say.  This is not about cerebral jerking off.  The series, Organizing A Movement is for
the purpose of providing us with the knowledge, framework, inspiration and courage to organize a proactive movement.  It does
not happen overnight.  It took each of the legendary figures we will explore, twenty years to achieve their goals.  

Quite frankly, we do not have another twenty years to try to stop this evil force against American’s civil and human rights.  So
instead of re-inventing wheels, in moving forward we had better take our lead from what worked, and what did not work, and
why.  It's time for us to Stand our Ground.

Faithfully,

~ Mittie Imani Jordan, Chair
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"The ultimate measure of a man is not
where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I will never forget that the only reason I am
standing here today is because somebody,
somewhere stood up for me when it was risky"
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