Unleashed by Trump, right-wing media, and GOP allies, racism is on the rise in America once more. This summer has seen a slew of reports of racist activity—some of them violent—directed at minorities by white Americans. America’s twin love affairs with guns and racism came to a predictably tragic end recently when a white man shot and killed a black father in front of his own kids over a dispute about parking.
After a verbal altercation turned physical, 47-year-old Michael Drejka of Florida drew his gun and fired on 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton while the slain man’s family waited in a car. Drejka, who has a reputation for starting fights over parking spaces, noticed an idling vehicle waiting in a disabled parking spot. After determining there was no handicapped parking sticker on the vehicle, Drejka began shouting at the family inside.
McGlockton ran out of the store to protect his girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, and their two children, shoving McGlockton to the ground.
That’s when surveillance footage shows Drejka pulling his gun out and firing, killing McGlockton.
Surveillance video provided by the owner of the Circle A Food Store shows Markeis McGlockton walk outside and confront Michael Drejka, who was arguing with McGlockton’s girlfriend after she parked in a handicapped space. McGlockton shoves Drejka, then Drejka pulls out his gun pic.twitter.com/rT1CeYi9tm
— Kellie Cowan (@KellieCowan) July 20, 2018
“He wanted somebody to be angry at,” Jacobs told Good Morning America. “He just wanted someone to fight him. He was picking a fight. I’m just sitting, waiting for my family to come back to the car.”
The Pinellas County sheriff’s office is declining to prosecute Drejka, citing Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law that allows armed citizens to use deadly force against anyone they deem to be a threat to their lives.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a press conference to address the decision.
According to Gualtieri, Drejka thought “he was going to be further attacked by McGlockton. He felt the next thing was that he was going to be slammed again.”
“We have to recognize that if Markeis McGlockton hadn’t walked up to him the way he did and slammed him on the ground, we wouldn’t be here having this discussion,” Gualtieri said.
As Slate journalist Jamelle Bouie pointed out on Twitter, “Stand Your Ground” laws, like many other laws, are often selectively enforced in a such a way that provides white people with more leeway, to the detriment of black Americans.
This tragic killing bears a striking similarity to many incidents of violence directed at African-Americans that went unprosecuted in the Jim Crow south. Indeed, mobs of white people punishing blacks with deadly force for minor infractions is part of what gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement in the first place.