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Statements on the Killing of Trayvon Martin
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Caucus Chairs Urge DOJ to Investigate the Murder of Trayvon Martin as Hate Crime, Acknowledge the Opening of Investigation
Washington, DC: The Chairs of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American and Progressive Caucus released the following statements acknowledging the Department of Justice's investigation into the shooting death of unarmed 17 year old Trayvon Martin and urging them to pursue the matter as a federal hate crime:
Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II - The Congressional Black Caucus
"I am encouraged by the initial actions taken by Attorney General Eric Holder to ensure that the FBI opens an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the senseless shooting death of unarmed, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. The handling of this case compromises the integrity of our legal system and sets a horrific precedent of vigilante justice. In far too many instances, those who are meant to protect us and our children have blatantly turned their backs on fairness and justice. Despite the heroic efforts of Congresswoman Corrine Brown to help bring justice to this family and surrounding community, the Sanford Police Department has shown a blatant disregard for justice.
"I am urging the Department of Justice to investigate Trayvon's death as a hate crime due to the fact that his only crime seems to be the color of his skin. The Congressional Black Caucus stands with our colleagues to continue the fight for parity on the local, state, and federal levels."
Chairman Charlie Gonzalez - The Congressional Hispanic Caucus
“I am relieved that Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are investigating the killing of Trayvon Martin and taking the first step in seeking justice. Though knowing their son’s death will be investigated can only provide a small relief next to the enormous grief of losing a child, the Department of Justice is sending a message to the Martin family and to communities of color that our children’s lives have value and deserve equal protection under the law.
“It is vital, for the preservation of our basic notions of civil rights and trust in the legal system, that we take a closer look at what transpired that night and the Sanford Police Department’s actions. It is essential for the Martin family, the residents of Sanford, for communities of color and for the countless number of Americans across the country who have been outraged by this tragedy. “
Chairwoman Judy Chu - The Congressional Asian PACIFIC American Caucus
“Trayvon Martin was an unarmed victim killed in a senseless act of violence. A thorough investigation is the only way we’ll ever know exactly what led George Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon. Letting questions go unanswered sets a dangerous precedent for vigilante behavior and people acting irresponsibly on misguided and heavily prejudiced suspicions. We have seen similar cases of violence in communities around the nation and must confront these examples whenever and wherever they occur. I am glad to hear the Justice Department has made the right decision to investigate Trayvon’s murder. Americans of all backgrounds deserve equal protection under the law, and I join my Congressional colleagues in emphasizing how important this investigation is.”
Co -Chairman Rep Raúl M. Grijalva - The Congressional Progressive Caucus
“Equal justice is one of the building blocks of this country, no matter where you came from or who you are. This young man deserved better, and his family deserves more than an apology and a promise to do better next time. Our nation was founded on the principle of justice for all, not justice for some or justice some of the time. This case challenges our commitment to that principle, and I share the hope of millions of Americans around the country that we’re going to meet that challenge.”
The Congressional Black Caucus Calls for Department of Justice Investigation Into the Shooting Death of Trayvon Martin
Washington, DC, March 19, 2012 - Chairman Emanuel Cleaver II, released the following statement regarding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin calling for the Justice Department to investigate:
"On February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, 17 year-old African American boy, was shot and killed while walking home from a local 7-Eleven. He only had $22, skittles and a can of iced tea in his possession. Trayvon, who had no criminal record, was described by his teacher as an 'A and B student who majored in cheerfulness'. The gunman, self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, admits to killing Trayvon, but claims he was acting in self-defense. Three weeks after Martin’s death, Zimmerman was never arrested and remains free. I am outraged by the way in which this case has been handled by the Sanford Police Department in Florida. Those who are meant to protect us and our children have blatantly turned their backs on fairness and justice. Despite the heroic efforts of Congresswoman Brown to help bring justice to this family and surrounding community, the Sanford Police Department has shown blatant disregard for justice.
"We urge the Department of Justice to immediately and thoroughly investigate the shooting death of Trayvon Martin as a hate crime. This case compromises the integrity of our legal system and sets a horrific precedent of vigilante justice. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus stand together in the name of justice for Trayvon. As a nation we cannot, should not, and will not ignore, Trayvon's brutal murder and the inconceivable fact that his killer remains free.
"Contrary to the flippant way this case has been handled, his life had meaning and purpose. Trayvon had a family, friends and a future all taken away because of the color of his skin. We will not stop until justice for Trayvon is served because a life is a terrible thing to take."
- Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II
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