Dominion of New York

Social Justice

July 11, 2012

NAACP Leads March for Marissa Alexander

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Written by: Kelly Virella

Marissa Alexander’s Stand Your Grand defense was rejected by both a judge and a jury.


arissa Alexander’s family is keeping her crusade for freedom in the news after a judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison for an aggravated assault in which she injured no one. Friday, in Jacksonville, Florida,  the NAACP will lead a march for the incarcerated woman, highlighting the injustice of the sentencing law that meted out her harsh penalty.

Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault after she fired a gun in the vicinity of her abusive husband and his son, after she says her husband attacked her. Her case raised questions nationally about why her self-defense claim was rejected, while in another part of the state, George Zimmerman — the confessed killer of Trayvon Martin — was allowed to avoid arrest for weeks.

Marissa Alexander says she fired the shot as a warning to protect herself from her husband. Her husband Rico Gray admitted during a deposition that he beat her, saying ”I got five baby-mamas and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one.” But a jury did not believe Alexander was acting in self-defense. Nor did Angela B. Corey, the prosecutor in the case, who is also the prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case.

Corey told the Huffington Post that Alexander was acting out of anger, not fear. Alexander fired her warning shot not into the ceiling, as she claimed, but into the wall, at an angle indicating she was shooting at someone, Corey says. Her husband was nearby and so were his two young sons, Corey says.

“She didn’t fire into the ceiling,” Corey told the Huffington Post. “They are blatantly lying. She fired the shot toward the living room, where they were, at an adult that she was angry with. She might have been angry at him, but what if that bullet had struck one of those kids?

“Who would be crying for Marissa Alexander then?” Corey asked. “Who fights for those two children? She fired at two children. These two young boys had no choice. … Marissa Alexander made her decision.”

Alexander’s 20 year’s sentence was mandated by Florida’s “10-20-Life” statutes.

In an earlier interview, Alexander sister and ex-husband vowed to keep fighting for her exoneration. They plan to file an appeal.

The NAACP issued a statement saying the march is a protest not just against Alexander’s sentence but also against Florida’s “10-20-Life” statutes, which mandate minimum sentences for certain crimes. The statement says: “The judicial branch of our government has always been where playing fields have been leveled and where the power of the state and its prosecutors can be held in check. Mandatory minimum sentences interfere with that balance of power.”

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Official portrait from his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.