By Justin Sink - 04/11/12 11:13 PM EDT
Civil rights leader Al Sharpton said that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and the special prosecutor appointed to oversee the Trayvon Martin case should be congratulated for bridging political and racial differences in charging George Zimmerman with second-degree murder Wednesday night.
"I will say I did not trust Gov. Scott and prosecutor Angela Corey. But they did their job. I want to congratulate him and the prosecutor for being what they should be," Sharpton said.
Sharpton, who has been a key ally of the Martin family in pushing for an arrest, said he hoped the development would unify Americans behind the notion of justice.
"Despite the fact we have different political parties and different political persuasions, perhaps tonight we can come together and say only the facts should matter when dealing with the loss of life," Sharpton said.
The civil rights leader credited political pressure from protesters across the nation for forcing a longer look at the case.
"Had there not been pressure, there would not have been a second look," Sharpton said.
That sentiment was echoed by Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, who said he "always believed from day one that if you looked at that evidence fairly and impartially that you would have to come to the conclusion that he had to be arrested."
"To all those young people, the people who marched, the people who stood up and refused to look away, the young people who were Trayvon's age … it's the young people who believe completely in justice, the concept, the idea, the dream of justice," Crump said.
Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said she hoped her son's death transcended racial lines.
"A heart has no color. It's not black, it's not white," Fulton said.
But Sharpton cautioned that Wednesday was not a day for celebration.
"They charged him with a serious crime. He deserves a fair trial. We don't want anyone high-fiving tonight," Sharpton said.
"We have not won anything. All we have done is establish we must have the right to redress and justice in this country," he said.
In charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder — the most severe possibility available without convening a grand jury — Corey will likely assuage some concerns that Zimmerman was shielded from prosecution because of race. But Corey maintained Wednesday that her prosecution was not politically motivated.
"There is a reason cases are tried in the court of law and not the court of the public or the media," Corey said.