Question: If a man threatens you and your family, pulls a knife on your teenage son on your front lawn and then, after you fire a warning shot to get him to leave your property, he charges at you while reaching for a weapon, do you have the right to defend yourself?
Well, apparently not. Some of you may have heard about the case of John McNeil, the 46 year-old brother and Kennesaw, Georgia resident serving a life sentence for killing a white man trespassing on McNeil’s property.
It all started back in December of 2005 when Brian Epp, a hired contractor whom the elder McNeil had a dispute with, pulled a knife on the McNeil’s teenaged son.
Epp refused to leave McNeil’s property, so McNeil called 911 and fired a warning shot at the ground. That’s when Epp charged McNeil, reaching into his pocket for the knife. McNeil fatally shot him at close range.
Now, my legal background tells me this appears to be a classic case of self-defense. Even more, the investigating officers did not charge McNeil, claiming he acted in self-defense.
However, nearly a year later, Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head pursued a murder charge despite the conclusion of the police and won a jury verdict upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court.
This despite the fact Kennesaw, Georgia happens to be a town really committed to the concept of self-defense. First, all homeowners are required to own a firearm and ammunition as a deterrent to crime. Second, a 30 year-old Castle Doctrine law allows the use of deadly force to protect one’s home, or anyone inside it, from a violent trespasser.
And there’s more, because it would be so easy to think this is just a simple case of black and white in this white conservative town.
This case is even more troubling given the fact that the predominantly white Kennesaw police department has consistently supported McNeil’s right to self-defense and that white neighbors, white eyewitnesses and white police officers all testified on McNeil’s behalf.
According to NAACP reports, the Cobb County Sheriff's Office had to arrest McNeil because the Kennesaw Police Department refused to.
So while there may certainly have been bias in the decision to prosecute McNeil, white officers and witnesses were the main ones saying that he was well justified in defending himself.
Time for us to act folks. The NAACP has a petition you can sign at their site, naacp.org. The case is currently being reviewed a second time by a Georgia appellate court.
And it’s even more urgent we free McNeil from prison given his wife, Anita, has been stricken with cancer. Prayers and best wishes go out to the entire McNeil family.
I’ll close with this quote from NAACP President Ben Jealous: "When it comes to protecting your home and your family, there is no law that can protect a black man from a biased system of justice."
Until next time, this is Stephanie in love and hope.
Click here to sign the NAACP's petition to get justice for John McNeil.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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