As the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict continues to reverberate across the nation, those unsatisfied with the acquittal of George Zimmerman are now looking to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to step in with hopes of a better answer.
Upon news of the “not guilty” verdict, calls for the federal government to take on the case were loud and clear. Last year when Zimmerman was initially not arrested for killing Martin, discussions about whether the DOJ would get involved loomed. However, the federal government backed off to allow the state of Florida to handle the case.
Reports indicate that evidence, most notably the gun Zimmerman used in the killing, will not be released by the Sanford Police Department. The DOJ has placed a hold on the evidence. The investigation is separate from the criminal trial. Among other items are Martin’s hoodie and his bag of Skittles.
While conversations continue over Florida’s “miscarriage of justice” and boycotts against the state start to erupt, the DOJ is now stepping in to see if Martin’s civil rights were violated and if he was racially profiled.
“As the department first acknowledged last year, we have an open investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin,” the department said in statement. “The Department of Justice’s Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial.”
The DOJ added that experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether there is enough evidence to see if Martin’s civil rights were violated. That will determine whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the DOJ’s policy governing successive federal prosecution.
Zimmerman’s legal team stated that they plan to fight the federal government over any charges they bring. They believe justice was done and that the federal government shouldn’t step in any further.
“We are confident [the Department of Justice] will find a young man with a diverse ethnic and racial background who is not a racist,” they wrote, “a man who is, in fact, sensitive to the complex racial history of our country.”
Meanwhile in Florida over the weekend, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson spoke at a protest rally for Martin at the state Capitol. He called the climate of the state “toxic,” comparing Gov. Rick Scott to late Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who was known for supporting segregation. Jackson and the protesters are asking for the state to repeal its “Stand Your Ground” law.
“’Stand Your Ground’ laws must end,” Jackson told reporters. “The manipulation of African-Americans here is disgraceful. “Florida is today a very toxic place. It led the drive for these ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws,”
He added that Scott could face challenges in his re-election as governor, though Scott could also change his mind on “Stand Your Ground” similar to how Wallace changed his mind on segregation in Alabama.