US Attorney General Eric Holder faces a tough decision as civil rights group petition the Department of Justice to press federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, 29, who was found “not guilty” on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges Saturday night by a jury of 6 women — 5 white and one Hispanic — for the February 26, 2012 killing of unarmed Black teen, Trayvon Martin.
NAACP President Ben Jealous released a statement that the organization was “not done demanding justice for Trayvon Martin”:
“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,” said the NAACP in a petition released Saturday night. “Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today.”
On CNN Sunday, Rev. Jesse Jackson called the verdict “Old South justice” and demanded that the DOJ “take this to another level.”
As previously reported by NewsOne, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin called for the FBI to become involved in their son’s case once the corruption, racism and cover-up culture of the Sanford Police Department became apparent when they protected and freed Zimmerman and the DOJ launched an investigation, described in detail below:
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, and the FBI opened an investigation into the facts and circumstances of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation. The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids – the highest level of intent in criminal law. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws.
“If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action, and at every step, the facts and law will guide us forward,” said Holder in a speech in April to Sharpton’s National Action Network.
In just 12 hours, the petition calling on the Department of Justice to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman garnered 250,000 signatures on the NAACP site, and the petition by MoveOn.org drew 140,000, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Since the release of the petition, both sites have crashed due to high volumes of traffic.