Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) on Wednesday welcomed the news that George Zimmerman was finally arrested, 45 days after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida, but continued to blame racial profiling as a cause of Martin's death, and called for a broad discussion on this issue to avoid future tragedies.
"While this chapter in the Trayvon Martin case may be over, we still need to have an honest and open discussion of the hard truths that led to this tragedy," Wilson said. "Trayvon's death must not be in vain. Racial profiling still exists in our country.
"There's a level of distrust between law enforcement and black men," she continued. "These are difficult conversations to have, but we must have them so that there will be no more tragedies like Trayvon's."
The failure to immediately arrest Zimmerman led to increasing protests, including in Washington, D.C. After a few weeks, Wilson took to the House floor every day to call for Zimmerman's arrest, and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) donned a hooded sweatshirt to protest what he said was the role that racial profiling played in the death of Martin, a black teenager.
"It took 45 days, but finally, second-degree murder charges have been filed against the man who killed their son," Wilson said of Martin's parents. "That George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin is not in dispute. But letting him enjoy his freedom for 45 days was unconscionable. We've stood up for Trayvon for 45 days. We've stood up for justice for 45 days."
Other members of the Congressional Black Caucus indicated their relief that Zimmerman was finally in custody.
"State Attorney Angela Corey's decision to file charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin is a positive first step toward some closure on this tragedy," said Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.). "From the very beginning, following my 5.5-hour meeting with the Sanford chief of police, city manager, mayor and City Commissioner Williams, I have believed that there was sufficient evidence for an arrest.
"There can be no happy ending in this story, but people need to believe that the system works fairly for everyone, and this development is a good sign," she added.
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) indicated that those who have protested the lack of an arrest should now let the judicial system work, mirroring calls from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) on Wednesday to remain calm, and encouraging Corey to be "meticulous with her investigation."
"I, like many others, thought that an arrest based upon probable cause was not unreasonable," Green said. "Mr. Zimmerman now deserves a fair trial. I look forward to a just verdict after a review of the evidence."