A Prayer for Marissa Alexander
Jesus, please be with Marissa Alexander today.
You know Marissa, the 32-year-old mother who fired a warning shot in the air to ward off her then-husband who was threatening to abuse her. You know that she tried to claim stand your ground and was denied by State Attorney Angela Corey who said Alexander fired her shot out of anger, not fear. You know that Corey’s office prosecuted George Zimmerman and did not block Zimmerman’s lawyers from embedding the language of the stand your ground statute in his jury’s instructions. You know that Zimmerman was declared not guilty based on that language, while Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison because of 10- to-20-year mandatory minimum sentencing requirements in Florida.
You have walked with Marissa through the more than three years since the initial incident on Aug. 1, 2010. You stood with her when she was convicted in May 2012. You understand the pain of being separated by prison bars from family. You sat with Marissa in the Duval County jail when her daughter turned 3 years old in July. You felt the pain of her not being able to buy a birthday cake or presents or invite family to celebrate the life of a daughter with whom Marissa has had no contact since the child was 6 months old — the daughter who resides in the custody of the very man who attacked Marissa in the first place. And you were with Marissa on Sept. 26, when an appellate court threw out her guilty verdict and granted a retrial.
You are walking with Marissa, Lord. You know the mountain she climbs. It is a mountain of injustice. It is the mountain of racially inequitable application of law. It is the absurd burden that an abused and threatened woman needed to prove that she was afraid and not angry at the husband who threatened her life and, by extension, the life of her newborn child to claim self-defense. It is the historic mountain of hyper control over black bodies and families; first on plantations, then through Jim Crow, now through mass incarceration. You know this mountain, Lord.
Stand with Marissa Alexander today at 4 p.m. Eastern time, Lord. Stand with her as she learns whether she will be released on bail to await her retrial.
Stand with Marissa as she learns whether she will be free to bond with, celebrate, and care for her toddler daughter and two older twin sons.
Stand with her and all women as we await this verdict: Will the Florida courts recognize the right of a woman who has been convicted of no crime to be with, bond with, and love her children without restraint? That is the question.
Move the courts to answer in the affirmative.
Lisa Sharon Harper is director of mobilizing for Sojourners.
Photo: Jesus Cervantes / Shutterstock