SANFORD, Fla. — July 13, George Zimmerman was acquitted on second degree murder and manslaughter charges related to the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Purportedly, Martin was walking home from a store when he was killed by Zimmerman, a member of a “civilian patrol”. The judgment incensed many, including The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Key NAACP leaders in Orlando, Fla. joined in pushing further for “justice for Trayvon”. They emphasized the importance of pressing on against racial profiling in U.S. law enforcement and judicial processes.
“We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said. “We stand with Trayvon’s family and we are called to act. We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”
Adora Obi Nweze, president of the organization’s Florida state conference stated, “We lost a young man due to senseless violence, but justice did not prevail.” Nweze also said, “Last year we pushed for the arrest of George Zimmerman and a thorough investigation and trial. Today, we are still called to act. No one should be allowed to use this law to commit a senseless crime again.”
NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock stated, “Today, justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family. We call immediately for the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the civil rights violations committed against Trayvon Martin. This case has re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States.”
The NAACP is now circulating a petition for the U.S. Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
“The Department of Justice has closely monitored the state of Florida’s prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act.
“The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.”
July 14, Rev. Jesse Jackson told CNN’s “New Day” the Rainbow PUSH Coalition also will press the Justice Department to examine possible civil rights violations by Zimmerman. Jackson was among civil rights leaders who had been urging public calm in anticipation of a verdict announcement.
According to MSNBC television, “Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said that Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin were considering filing a civil lawsuit, but that no decisions had yet been made.”
In addition to possible federal civil rights charges, Zimmerman could face a wrongful-death civil suit if the Martin family decides to pursue that legal avenue.