Experts say Dunn retrial promotes race relations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The retrial of Michael Dunn ended in a guilty conviction on first degree murder, but also according to experts only helps further conversations about race relations.

Related: Verdict: Michael Dunn found guilty of first degree murder

Dunn was convicted of murdering teenager Jordan Davis in the retrial following a hung jury in February on the murder charge. In the first trial Dunn was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder.

Related: Jordan Davis' parents greet, hug demonstrators after guilty verdict

The victim's father, Ron Davis, said conviction gives him a ray of hope that race relations are taking a positive turn. Following the Wednesday's jury verdict, Davis spoke about a changing environment as the nearly all white jury rendered a guilty verdict.

"Hopefully this is a start that we don't have to look at the make up of the jury anymore," said Davis.

Orlando attorney Mark O'Mara knows something about race and high profile trials. He represented George Zimmerman in the and charged racial environment in the George Zimmerman trial.

Related: Local woman back in courtroom, wins lottery seat for Dunn retrial

"In the dynamics of the courtroom you can never ignore race because we know it exists in our society therefore it exists in the courtroom," said O'Mara who was in Jacksonville to participate in a discussion titled "Race and Justice" at the University of North Florida.

What has changed says the courtroom veteran of thirty years is the willingness of people to talk about race.

"I think it was ignored 30 years ago when I started," said O'Mara. "I think it is more of an issue that we can talk about, I like the idea that people are getting more comfortable talking about race," he said.

Related: FCN Exclusive: Dunn Trial Analyst Mark O'Mara

Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder could not agree more. She is a professor of sociology at UNF with an emphasis on race relations.

"We are definitely living in a brand new time, it is not the America of the 1960s," said Wilder pointing out people now are more open to talking about race.

When asked where communication about race plays into opening doors and removing barriers, O'Mara says it is critical.

"We have to talk about it before be can resolve it," he said.


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