Feds to investigate killing of Trayvon Martin

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MIAMI -- In a southern town, a man shoots and kills an innocent black youth he thinks looks suspicious. Witnesses report that they heard the high school student screaming for help before he was shot and shot again. The victim was unarmed and simply walking towards his family's house after buying candy at a 7-11. The local police don't charge, and even defend, the shooter without any real investigation. Any possibility to enact justice is left to the federal government, spurred on by thousands of angry citizens.

Sound like the 1960s? It's not.

The Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced that they will investigate the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, as local authorities seem to have failed at a proper investigation.

The parents of Martin, the African American youth who was shot to death Feb. 26 in an Orlando suburb by self-described neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, had asked the FBI to step in and investigate the shooting, and others called for investigation by the Justice Department.

"The department [of Justice] will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation," the DOJ said in a statement. " The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident."

Though there is no question that Zimmerman took the high school student's life by shooting him  in the chest, Zimmerman had no been charged with any crime by the police in the Orlando suburb of Sanford, raising a nationwide public outcry.

Martin was a student at Michael Krop High School in Miami. The youth lived in Miami Gardens and was in Sanford visiting a relative.

"It's a shame that he's not getting any justice," Martin's father, Tracy Martin, said at a March 16 press conference. "We're not, as a family, getting any closure," the elder Martin said. "I feel betrayed by the Sanford Police Department and there's no way that I can still trust them in investigating this crime."

Across the country, many fear that Martin's "crime," for which he received a death penalty ordered by neither judge nor jury, was walking while black.

Martin's family hopes that the federal government will be able to bring justice to what many around this state see as a blatantly racist miscarriage of justice. This comes after weeks of public outcry, across the Internet and across the country. A petition at change.org has garnered more than 400,000 signatures already.

Even Republican Gov. Rick Scott was pushed to action by the outcry: He ordered the FDLE investigation.

Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, who represents much of the area, met with the police chief and other city leaders March 16 to "clarify the situation." She later sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for a federal investigation. She noted that a "history of racial tension" in the community could lend itself to the lack of a thorough local investigation.

"How police immediately concluded that he had a reasonable belief of imminent death or great bodily harm from a boy half his size remains unclear and three witnesses have publicly contradicted this version."

Zimmerman, who experts say sounded drunk at the time, was never tested for drugs or alcohol, as is standard procedure.

Rep. Brown requested an emergency meeting with Holder or another official, and, in a strange twist, Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett, on behalf of himself and the city council agreed, sending his own letter to attorney general.

Zimmerman spotted Martin walking towards his relative's home. Police told him not to follow Martin and to stay in his car. He didn't listen, and confronted Martin, with whom he apparently provoked a fight. Zimmerman says, however, that he stepped out of his vehicle and that Martin attacked him, causing Zimmerman to fire his semi-automatic handgun. But many point out that this account simply does not fit with the facts of what happened:

There were cries for help. There was a shot, and then another. With that final shot, the pained screaming ceased. Zimmerman was unscathed.

Three separate witnesses said that the pleas for help were from Martin himself. This brings up more questions: If Martin was crying for help -- until he was shot -- how could he have posed any threat to Zimmerman?

Most of the facts in the case are clear: Martin was unarmed, was in the neighborhood for a legitimate reason, and Zimmerman fired the shots that killed the teen. However, because of Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law, local police say they are unable to charge Zimmerman. According to the law, anyone has the right to use lethal force -- to kill -- a person they deem threatening.

All of this makes the case for the federal government much harder to prove. The Justice Department warned, "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."

The local NAACP chapter will host a town hall meeting this evening in Sanford.

Photo: Rev. Dames of St. James AME Church leads people in prayer at the Titusville Courthouse, March 18, in Titusville, Fla., where a rally was held demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, black Florida teenager fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today/AP

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  • Margolis states,"However, because of Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law, local police say they are unable to charge Zimmerman." Stand your ground law!? The name itself sounds infantile. Why do I get the feeling that a Rightie thought this up? The law, and of course its name, sound equivilent to a Frank Burns cartoon caricature. Years ago conservatives claimed that the U.S. acheived total equality. And as usual, they're wrong. A pattern of behavior still exists revealing that racism, although now more closeted than years ago, hasn't gone away. While it would be wrong for someone to see racism under everyone's bed, it's still there: In the form of the KKK, other white supremacists groups/neo-Nazis, as well as being less visible among those in the Republican Party. Zimmerman may not be an open racist, but given the information provided, and the "stand your ground" law, I sense paranoia and racial motivation in Zimmerman's bravado to clear the neighborhood of "undesireables." Plus, given the inaction of the Sanford police not to sensibly arrest Zimmerman with more information now at hand, this further stinks of racial motivation.

    Posted by revolution123, 03/22/2012 3:02pm (2 years ago)

  • Second amendment issues do have a bearing on this whole atrocity.
    However, the unspeakable oppression, exploitation, dehumanization and genocide of the Negro people in the United States, and especially in the Southern region, is the real source and crux of this problem, this crisis.
    The promulgation of law and public policy which sits intentionally in place to support a superstructure of this genocide has been operative since and before the attempted legal lynching of Angelo Herndon, and before him the Scottsboro 9. The Scottsboro case involved the traditional all white jury, the attempted outright lynching, the terrorist sensationalism of the "gallant South", this "pastoral scene".
    As a racist, anti-human, form of capitalism, fueled by a historic foundation of the rot and mass murder of chattel slavery, a monstrosity, I operates today in 2012.
    It was the brilliant, forthright, courageous- the William L. Patterson, the Paul Leroy Robeson, the Benjamin Jefferson Davis, the courageous Communist Party, USA which defended the voiceless, these victims of racist legal, social, political, oppression and dehumanization.
    Nothing can change this historic fact and past. But this not alone, the wise Negro people, the soul of the soul of labour, in Black skin and white, formed the basis of the movement to free these then, as now this same soul must materialize to get some justice for our South and our United States of America when it comes to our people of color, its youth and its posterity.
    When the wise Negro people, along with the working class of the world, including the vast, vast, millions of the socialist world ,moved to save Angela Yvonne Davis from a legal lynching, for promoting civil, economic and political rights as a UCLA professor, its mighty force was irresistible, and sister Davis helped start a mass organization, a broad alliance of victims of racist repression and genocide-and their supporters, to stop this awesome repression.
    Its name was The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
    We still need such an organization.
    Genocidal murder, like that of Trayvon Martin, make this plain.
    For it is so, so plain that this is not a simple matter of 2nd amendment training, not only psychosis only of a George Zimmerman, or a personal racism(however plausible), but of a mad system of social, political, and psychological racist, murderous psychosis, with a massive mount of victims of color, and its natural consequence-all victims-capitalism-as W.E.B. Du Bois called it-UNIVERSAL SELFISHNESS.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/22/2012 10:33am (2 years ago)

  • Second amendment issues do have a bearing on this whole atrocity.
    However, the unspeakable oppression, exploitation, dehumanization and genocide of the Negro people in the United States, and especially in the Southern region, is the real source and crux of this problem, this crisis.
    The promulgation of law and public policy which sits intentionally in place to support a superstructure of this genocide has been operative since and before the attempted legal lynching of Angelo Herndon, and before him the Scottsboro 9. The Scottsboro case involved the traditional all white jury, the attempted outright lynching, the terrorist sensationalism of the "gallant South", this "pastoral scene".
    As a racist, anti-human, form of capitalism, fueled by a historic foundation of the rot and mass murder of chattel slavery, a monstrosity, I operates today in 2012.
    It was the brilliant, forthright, courageous- the William L. Patterson, the Paul Leroy Robeson, the Benjamin Jefferson Davis, the courageous Communist Party, USA which defended the voiceless, these victims of racist legal, social, political, oppression and dehumanization.
    Nothing can change this historic fact and past. But this not alone, the wise Negro people, the soul of the soul of labour, in Black skin and white, formed the basis of the movement to free these then, as now this same soul must materialize to get some justice for our South and our United States of America when it comes to our people of color, its youth and its posterity.
    When the wise Negro people, along with the working class of the world, including the vast, vast, millions of the socialist world ,moved to save Angela Yvonne Davis from a legal lynching, for promoting civil, economic and political rights as a UCLA professor, its mighty force was irresistible, and sister Davis helped start a mass organization, a broad alliance of victims of racist repression and genocide-and their supporters, to stop this awesome repression.
    Its name was The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
    We still need such an organization.
    Genocidal murder, like that of Trayvon Martin, make this plain.
    For it is so, so plain that this is not a simple matter of 2nd amendment training, not only psychosis only of a George Zimmerman, or a personal racism(however plausible), but of a mad system of social, political, and psychological racist, murderous psychosis, with a massive mount of victims of color, and its natural consequence-all victims-capitalism-as W.E.B. Du Bois called it-UNIVERSAL SELFISHNESS.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/22/2012 10:31am (2 years ago)

  • I am supportive of the 2nd Amendment and the Right to Carry. However, I am not supportive of STUPID. Zimmerman was in a vehicle and was more than capable of driving away from any percieved threat. The Grand Jury should find sufficient reason to indict this idiot for murdering Martin. The lesson for everyone else, if you own a firearm you may very well end up in a defensive situation at some point. If you don't have previous training, go get it! Concealed carry courses that are recognized in most states will provide you with the safety training and an understanding of what constitutes a legitimate use of deadly force. Take the training even if you never plan to carry concealed. Hopefully none of us will ever have to be in that situation. Unfortunately, Zimmerman makes gun owners look like thugs.

    Posted by Mike Greer, 03/22/2012 12:56am (2 years ago)

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