“We urge the Department of Justice to immediately and thoroughly investigate the shooting death of Trayvon Martin as a hate crime,” the statement read in part. “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.”
On Feb. 26, Martin, a 17 year old African American boy, was shot and killed near his home in a gated community in Sanford, Florida by Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, who claimed he was acting in self-defense.
Martin was carrying only Skittles candies and a can of iced tea when he was shot. Local authorities say they can’t arrest Zimmerman because of a state law that permits citizens to use deadly force when acting in self-defense, and there are no witnesses to contradict Zimmerman’s claim that he was acting in self-defense.
Just prior to the shooting, Zimmerman called 911 to report what he said was suspicious behavior on behalf of Martin. Zimmerman followed Martin home, despite the emergency dispatcher telling him not to do so.
Martin’s death has provoked protests and intense media focus, and on Monday students across Florida held rallies calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.
“Contrary to the flippant way this case has been handled, his life had meaning and purpose,” Cleaver continued. “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.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus released a statement shortly after the CBC’s, also pushing for a DoJ investigation.
“It is with dire urgency that we ask Sec. Eric Holder and the Dept. of Justice to launch an independent investigation of the killing of Trayvon Martin,” said a statement from caucus chairman Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Tex.). “Our children of color need and deserve equal protection under the law."