Rep. West: Ransom for Trayvon Martin's death a 'hate crime'

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Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, was shot and killed in a Florida gated community by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

West weighed in along with the Congressional Black Caucus — West is the only Republican member — earlier this month asking for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Martin’s death.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), also a member of the CBC, told CNN she believes there is “stiff evidence” to suggest the shooting was a hate crime.

West also leveled the accusation of “hate crime,” but against one group’s offer to pay for the capture of Zimmerman. He wrote that he “vehemently” condemned the New Black Panther Party for the offered reward, and called for the DOJ to investigate what is "clearly a hate crime."

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a group calling itself the New Black Panther Party offered a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman at a rally in Florida on Saturday. Zimmerman and his family have gone into hiding, according to reports. Several groups along with the CBC are angry that Zimmerman has avoided arrest due to his claim of self-defense in the incident.

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law allows an individual who feels threatened to "stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force." 


The New Black Panther Party is not affiliated with the 1960s-era, black power-affiliated Black Panther Party. The group’s offer of a reward for Zimmerman’s capture accompanied suggestions of violence and the phrase “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." The Sanford police department warned against vigilante justice.

“To openly solicit for the death of an American citizen, with reward, is not in keeping with the laws of due process which governs this Constitutional Republic,” West wrote. “However, this is to be expected when irrational voices dominate our public dialogue and are fueled by an ideological driven media.”