There but for grace go he….

Dear President Trump,

Currently the most read article in the WP is about how a man who repeatedly yelled racist epithets and threw a bottle and then a punch died after the African American Fed Ex driver he attacked punched him in the face. Once. In self-defense. As determined by the courts. A friend of mine told me about it because he knows what happened to my brother last week in Portland and this other incident also happened in Portland.

There were several witnesses to the incident and they were all clear that Magnuson, the man who died, initiated the conflict and was physically aggressive first. I think the Fed Ex driver, Timothy Warren, was fortunate there were people around to see what happened since things usually go very badly for black people when they kill white people, no matter the circumstances. Similarly, I’m grateful there were people around when the racist guy came after my brother since they helped defuse the situation.

I read some of the comments in the WP and in the Oregonian, where the story first came out. Some said that Warren wasn’t justified in hitting Magnuson at all because the latter was homeless and in ill health. Some said that Warren wasn’t prosecuted because he was black. I’m not sure why they were bothering (maybe for the same reasons I keep writing to you), but some were trying to get the others to see that Warren didn’t intend to kill or seriously harm Magnuson and was acting within his rights to defend himself. They weren’t getting very far, but they were trying.

The articles mention that Oregon doesn’t have a ‘duty to retreat’ law on the books (14 states do and 23 have “stand your ground” laws). In the short Wikipedia article I read on it there was a case in Indiana where the ‘duty to retreat’ idea was shot down as absurd and un-American. As I sit with all this, I’m thinking about how torn I’ve always felt at the prospect of ever having to hurt someone to physically defend myself or my family. I hope I am never tested in this way or that if someone were to come after one of us that there’d be a way to escape, but if I had to, I sure hope I can effectively use the self-defense strategies I’ve learned. And again, I’m grateful my brother didn’t end up having to defend himself physically and that Mr. Warren had witnesses present. But mostly, I just want all this awfulness to stop.

May we be safe; full stop.
May we be happy to leave one another in peace.
May we treat one another with respect and dignity.
May you and various GOP “leaders” stop race baiting.

Tracy Simpson

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