By Meghashyam Mali - 07/17/13 10:57 AM EDT
Hilary Clinton on Tuesday said that her prayers were with the family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin days after a Florida jury acquitted his shooter, George Zimmerman, of murder and manslaughter charges.
“In a week that I know has brought heartache – deep, painful heartache – to many across our country, the solidarity and solace you find here is all the more important,” said the former secretary of State and possible 2016 Democratic presidential contender in a speech in Washington, according to reports.
Clinton’s comments were her first public remarks on the controversial case since the jury verdict Saturday night.
The acquittal of Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin, an unarmed black teenager after a confrontation in February 2012 sparked a national debate over racial profiling and gun laws.
Democratic lawmakers and prominent civil rights groups are pressing the Justice Department to file federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, calling the verdict a miscarriage of justice.
Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the controversy earlier Tuesday, where he sharply criticized the “stand your ground” Florida law that played a role in the Zimmerman trial.
Holder said such laws “sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods,” undermining law enforcement officials entrusted with protecting the public in an address to the NAACP
The civil rights group has launched a petition to pressure Holder to take up the case, but the attorney general said only that the DOJ was reviewing the evidence and would act if appropriate.
“I want to assure you that the department will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law,” Holder said.
President Obama on Sunday called the death of Martin a “tragedy,” but urged the public to remain “calm” after the verdict.
“We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken,” said the president in a statement.