New York congressmembers call on DOJ to examine Zimmerman verdict

July 17, 2013 Denise Romano
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Four Brooklyn federal representatives — Congressmembers Hakeem Jeffries, Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velazquez and Yvette Clarke — are among a group of seven, all Democrats, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an examination of whether or not George Zimmerman violated national civil rights laws when he killed Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, was accused of killing Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black male, as he was walking home from the store after buying an Arizona iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman – whose avowed justification was Florida’s Stand Your Ground law — was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter on Saturday, July 13.

On Sunday, July 14 — the day before the press conference convened outside Manhattan Federal District Court with the elected officials, including also Congressmembers Charles Rangel, Gregory Meeks and Jose Serrano — the Justice Department said it would restart its investigation into the case to consider possible hate crime charges against Zimmerman.

“George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin, and then shot him dead in cold blood.  The continuation of the Justice Department inquiry is a significant step in the right direction,” contended Jeffries. “Ultimately, a federal grand jury should decide if Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman because he was black in violation of our nation’s hate crime laws.”

Rangel said he was “deeply saddened and angered that George Zimmerman has escaped responsibility for the shooting of Travyon Martin.”

Serrano concurred. “In the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict we must take the opportunity to reevaluate our laws and examine our society’s prejudices,” he said. “Above all, we have to work to ensure that no child of any color fears for his life when he walks in his own neighborhood.”

“As the ranking member of the Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, I, like so many Americans, have watched the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s senseless death very closely and with a deep, abiding sadness,” Nadler added.

Velazquez called the incident “a tragedy for all Americans.”

 “We know that Trayvon Martin would have been living today if George Zimmerman had not pursued him with a firearm.  I am disappointed that the laws of Florida have failed to secure justice for Trayvon and his family,” Clarke said. “Our children are not safe if private citizens have the authority to act as vigilantes.  My prayers are with the parents of Trayvon Martin, who have demonstrated extraordinary courage in this awful tragedy.”

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