Eggs vs bullets: Michael Dunn, Willie Noble, and teens being teens

egg-tp-musicI’m trying to wrap my brain around Willie Noble’s killing of Adrian Broadway in the wee hours of Saturday morning in Little Rock, Arkansas. Seems she and six friends drove to Noble’s house and proceeded to cover his car in eggs, toilet paper, mayonnaise, and other debris. Nobles response was to run out with gun blazing, firing into the fleeing car and killing 15-year-old Adrian, who was in the front seat.

Willie Noble, like Adrian, is African-American. He “was charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of a terroristic act and five counts of aggravated assault.”

This comes on the heels of Michael Dunn being convicted on Saturday in Jacksonville, FL of three counts of attempted second-degree murder and another charge in the killing in 2012 of Jordan Davis, who was in a car with three friends and a loud stereo. Dunn, who is white, confronted the four African-American teens about the loud music. The argument quickly escalated as Dunn pulled his legally concealed weapon from his glove compartment and fired three shots into the the teen’s SUV. Dunn and his girlfriend then went to their bed and breakfast and ordered a pizza.

The jury deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge of Davis and the judge declared a mistrial. Dunn claimed to have seen Davis with a shotgun (no weapon was recovered by police).

Noble, the African-American, could possibly be convicted of terrorism and Dunn, the Caucasian, has yet to be convicted in the death of his victim.

But getting beyond that for a minute: teens are getting shot for teenage behavior.

I am not defending egging a car. I have never engaged in that particular act. Full disclosure: I was in a car with two female friends in high school and a car with two men tailed us for several miles (yes–we tried to lose them and even drove to the police station, but we were afraid to get out of the car) so we finally went to one of our houses, ran inside and grabbed the first things we could think of to throw at the car, which happened to be eggs. The car left as we ran back out.

But toilet paper? Seriously? I was a world-class TPer. We used 40 rolls on the county extension agent’s house after the 4-H banquet. We used green and white so he would know who did it. He caught us and invited us in for hot chocolate and donuts. We offered to clean it up, but he wanted his little kids to see it in the morning.

A group of my parents friends threw a great annual party to celebrate a local high school football rivalry. Whoever had the party got “rolled” (TPed). The night before the game when I was in college, I heard pounding in the front yard–the supporters of the rival team were decorating my parents’ house, because it was our turn to hold the party. I flipped on the porch light and they all froze. “Hey! You want to TP the bedroom?” The results were amazing: the bed was wrapped in TP and red and black crepe paper. A couple of years later, my mom and I drove to the party site and returned the favor (that was my last TP outing).

But loud music, eggs, and toilet paper now constitute threats that deserve to be met by lethal force?

I am so glad I grew up when the consequences were not so severe.

17 replies »

  1. The most distressing part of both these events to me Cat is when did we as a society ever condone taking of life for trivial nuisance? Or taking of life for minor property crimes? And if we don’t condone it then where the hell did these numbnuts get the idea?

    It’s cold blooded murder plain and simple and I hope they are made examples of as a warning to other loons out there that this sort of behavior will not, can not be tolerated.

  2. We’ve reached a level of shoot first and don’t worry about the questions that’s really scary.

  3. Here’s the problem: the proliferation of guns. Everyone has one. EVERYONE. Everyone now carries one or has one readily available and does not hesitate to use it no matter the offense. It IS open season on teenagers, no matter what the offense. But it isn’t open season on white teenagers–it is open season on black teenagers and that hurts me to the core. I’d like to be wrong, but I know I’m not.

    I, too, am glad I grew up in a time where and when it was okay to be a teen and do goofy stuff like TP someone’s house (we rarely egged-too hard to get them and everyone knew our parents!) because chances were we were there the next morning to help clean it up.

    • Max: I hear you about “open season” on teens of color–the statistics hold aren’t good. Oddly enough, mass shootings seem to have more white victims. And it does seem like everyone owns guns–but the number is actually down considerably since the 1970s (to 30-35% from about 50%). Considering that the number of guns in circulation is increasing, some people own quite a few–and that’s also worrisome.

  4. i stand by a post of mine from last year about zimmerman. it’s now legal for white men to shoot black kids. i have no words.

  5. Yes. That post came to mind when I first heard of the Dunn case. May not meet the threshold of a trend yet but it is not a good path on which we should continue.

    I engaged in all the mischief mentioned and some a bit more … mischievous. To this day I want to believe the sheriff in the next township was shooting over our heads if for no other reason than I want to believe he was a better shot than that. But the pop and the sound of the bullets zinging through the leaves over our heads is still pretty clear in my mind. And I do not think for a second he intended us any harm. It just seemed part of a ritual and a helluva rush.

    • On my last TP adventure with my mom, we both kept laughing about neighbors of our target calling the cops and us getting arrested. The idea of getting shot at never occurred to us.

  6. there will always be nuts that you have to control, but to get rid of guns for isolated incidences and take away the ability to defend your self over these things is just silly. they should not have used a gun so the justice system will have to take care of them, if i had gone out to confront them by my self i would have been armed. it was 6 to 1. if someone has just stolen something from me and is running away you do not have the right to shoot. the amount of guns are at record levels and crime is down. these people have to go through the court system. just because a lot of people are killed with knifes does not mean we get rid of knifes,

    if i went out i would have carried a gun it was 6 to1, you can not shoot someone running away with your tv, why because it is against the law. you can hold them for the police if you so desire.

    zimmerman was hispanic not white sensationalizing some thing does not make it better, unless you have an agenda and are trying to mislead.

    how come no one says anything when the police knocks down doors at the wrong address and kill the occupants. or uses a drone to kill innocent people around a guilty man without a trial. we are guilt until proven innocent. they read our emails and record our phone conversations. do you really trust the government it’s track record is absolutely terrible, gun purchases has set records in the last 5 years and the crime rate has fallen. start by taking laws away from the government. it is doing our bidding not suppose to enslave us like they are doing, i would say 95 % of the people are truly good. we are trying to take our rights away to control a very few, and history has proven that never works. i am nodding in and out so i guess i will say good buy. let us start with the government work on our own nation and let the rest of the world make their own minds up. we certainly are not going to change them and the cost in human life and money is to great,

    • Chasing a group of people with a loaded gun that you don’t intend to use sounds like a bad plan–you are still outnumbered. And chasing people with a gun who are RUNNING AWAY is a problem. You are right, “if someone has just stolen something from me and is running away you do not have the right to shoot” and “these people have to go through the court system.” To get to the second stage, law enforcement has to get involved. You (and everyone else who feels the need to carry a gun) needs to decide at what point someone else should be called in and how much personal law enforcement you need to do.

      Actually, here, you will find plenty of people concerned as concerned about drones, unreasonable search and seizure, and warrant-less surveillance as we are about armed wackos and vigilantes.

    • Which brings up another problem–with 1 in 4 African-American males being incarcerated, it raises the later issue of illegal possessions of firearms.

  7. Cat I think we have to take gun ownership statistics with a block of salt. Phone surveys on sensitive issues invite respondent falsehoods. There are a lot of guns out there, and a lot of gun owners as well. I don’t see the tool being the problem nearly as much as the “Stand Your Ground” mindset. That by appearance at least is a definitely emerging problem.

    And Otherwise, respectfully, how does one outlier getting away with murder prove that it’s open season on blacks anymore than OJ getting away with murder proves it’s open season on whites?

    In the two cases cited above, Dunn the white man is looking at 60 years in prison, and Noble the black man will likely be following right behind him. The only solution I see is punishing the crap out of people who commit unreasonable acts with a firearm (or any weapon) so others will think twice before following suit.

    • Yeah, I know–there’s no such thing as a REALLY reliable gun statistic (since tracking that is illegal). I’ve seen 30-35% in a number of sources–but that doesn’t make it completely accurate. And you’re right, the real problem is the attitude of the individual owner (whether or not s/he is backed up by Stand Your Ground laws).

      We’ll see what Dunn gets as a sentence. I find the “terroristic action” charge against Noble to be a bit far-fetched in this case–but it is the Ultimate Crime charge in this day and age (even though I can’t think of any definition of terrorism that would involve shooting teens egging your car).

      • “Terroristic Action” describes a form of intimidation in criminal law Cat, not associated with global terrorism. Similar to “Launching a Missile” which can mean throwing a beer can or rock.

        You bring up a good point about the disparity of punishment by race. If we follow my old white guy “burn ’em at the stake” philosophy then inevitably many more people of color will spend time behind bars because of it. Mandatory sentencing is a debate in and of itself.

        There have to be firm consequences though or we’re going to see a lot more of this. I would like to hear the back story on Noble, I’m guessing mental problems but there could be other extenuating circumstances. Dunn by all appearances is just a hateful racist bastard with no sense of self control.

    • That’s fair, Frank, maybe I did call the trend a little early. (My management consulting background gives me the ability to draw a trend line using only one point. 🙂 An old joke in the trade. ) But we now have two points.

      Anyway, I think the combination of (1) high gun ownership (2) stand your ground laws (3) endemic racism and (4) inflammatory media meant that this trend was inevitaable.

      OJ actually proved one trend and one fact.

      1. Trend: It’s virtually impossible to convict a celebrity protected by high price talent–Durst, Simpson, Blake, etc. Even Spector almost got off.

      2. Fact: Police have an informal make-up rule. If you can’t send them to jail on something they should have gone to jail for, find something else, e.g., Simpson and Mike Tyson. They really, really don’t like being made to look stupid.

      I’ve really been pondering the inflammatory media recently, on both the left and right. THere’s a website I encountered called “Downward Trend, because that’s the way we’re headed.” I found that very sad. It seems to be general concensus that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, despite mountains of evidence that just the opposite is true–we have fewer wars, fewer people starving, more distributed opportunity, etc than ever before. But people on both sides are absolutely hell bent on thinking it’s going to shit. In part, I recognize this is human nature (Cato the Elder,) in part it’s evolution (we’re designed to be paranoid,) but in part I think it’s the media–and not just Fox. It’s commercials for goodness sake like ADT, etc.

      • Interesting thoughts Otherwise, and I agree with most of them. We do have it better now (speaking globally) than we’ve ever had it before but instead of making us happy it seems to divide us even more.

        A disturbing trend I’ve observed in the USA is the militarization of not just the police but of the citizenry as well. When I was a young Marine back in the early 70’s the military was not popular and frankly I was OK with that. Standing armies of men with guns is a necessary evil not something to be proud of especially when used against opponents orders of magnitude weaker.

        But now, Jeebus H Christ, we’ve turned into a warrior society in constant search of new enemies to vanquish and the citizenry lauds and fawns over our heroes like Spartans of old. When did we turn into war mongers? Why does every American need an AR-15? What is so fucking enchanting about killing mostly innocent people and in far off lands and scarring generations of our own youth physically and emotionally?

        I believe it all boils down to the humongous amounts of money being made producing war material and the only solution is uncoupling the monetary feedback loop between politicians and the corporations that feed them. Then maybe we can return to a more peaceful lifestyle and it will no longer be open season on kids of any color.

  8. There a major differences between the cases. Not least the fact that one crime was committed on impulse, and in the second the perpetrator had forty-five minutes to come to his senses.
    The jury dead-locked in the Dunn case. This can happen because one juror stubbornly refuses to accept the facts of the case, or it happens because the prosecution left sufficient doubt about the evidence that a thinking juror could not in good conscience convict. Bringing a first degree murder charge may have been overreach, as there may have been insufficient evidence of pre-meditation.
    Michael Dunn was wrong, and so was Willie Noble. Neither should have done what they did.
    Michael Dunn has not been sentenced, but he could get as much as seventy five years. Society has not “condoned” either crime.