Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala is embroiled in the “Battle Royale” of her political career.
Ayala’s name may not ring a bell for those who live on the outskirts of “The Sunshine State,” but she’s currently suing Florida Gov. Rick Scott after Scott reassigned 23 death penalty cases handled by Ayala’s office, one a high-profile murder case involving suspect Markeith Lloyd.
Lloyd was arrested after a lengthy search on January 17 and charged with the fatal shooting of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton. Investigators believe Lloyd murdered Dixon in late December, then engaged in a fatal confrontation with Clayton in a Walmart parking when she tried to arrest him.
Lloyd faces other charges in relation to the shootings, including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, killing an unborn child, armed carjacking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Ayala argued that imposing the death penalty proved no improved public safety for citizens or law enforcement, and could play out for years in a timely and costly manner.
On April 25 the Florida State Supreme Court decided against Ayala’s request for an emergency ruling until a full review of the case is completed.
Ayala contends that Scott overstepped his constitutional bounds and flexed unnecessary caution in reassigning the cases.
Though Ayala is backed by numerous civil rights organizations and constituents in the legal world, her lone pursuit of unravelling Scott’s pointed de-legitimization campaign is palpable and recognizable.
Ayala’s case harkens back to Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who faced severe scrutiny after seeking the maximum penalty for all officers involved in the Freddie Gray case. Mosby is currently gearing up as a defendant in a defamation case filed against her by five of the accused officers.
The blowback from Mosby’s decision after she unapologetically announced her pursuit of justice created a media storm of attention for the young attorney.
After a year of proceedings, three of the accused officers were acquitted and charges against the remaining three were dropped.
Mosby maintained that, in spite of her naysayers, her job was based in the tenets of her legal teachings after three of the officers were acquitted, while the remaining officers charges were dropped,
“I signed up for this, and I can take it,” she said during a 2016 press conference where she announced her office would drop the remaining charges. “We do not believe Freddie Gray killed himself. This system is in need of reform when it comes to police accountability.”
But there’s something to be said for the bold displays of Ayala and Mosby, the likes of which are rarely seen played out on the front stages of the national discussion.
Navigating the political arena as a Black woman of influence requires a deep undertaking of W.E.B. Du Bois‘ “double consciousness” theory. But living in a Black woman’s body adds another layer of weaponry women of color must assume to break down the tired misconceptions of inadequacy.
Both Ayala and Mosby are capable prosecutors who are in the position of serving the interest of the people. It should not be lost that government sanctioned violence on communities of color is long-storied in American history –the same people that Ayala and Mosby vowed to protect.
Scott’s brash renouncement of Ayala’s capabilities coupled with the severe criticisms Mosby faced reflect the patriarchy’s assumption that women, especially women of color, are ill-equipped to handle their respective positions.