2013-07-18 / Other News

Local Pols: Justice Not Served For Trayvon Martin

By Dara Mormile

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries speaks out after verdict in Zimmerman trial. 
Photo by Margot Jordan Congressman Hakeem Jeffries speaks out after verdict in Zimmerman trial. Photo by Margot Jordan Not too long after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, millions took to the streets in outrage – many feeling that justice has not been served.

In Brooklyn, masses protested at Borough Hall on Sunday and a petition was passed around, calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, who said he shot the unarmed teen in Sanford Florida on February 26, 2012 in selfdefense when Martin allegedly attacked him.

Many feel that the course of events which reportedly took place that night did not warrant a young man being killed. Elected officials in the Canarsie area sounded off this week, most of their sentiments parallel to the outrage felt by other communities across the country.

City Councilman Charles Barron feels that this is a “typical case of racial injustice” and that race should not have been excluded from the case.

City Councilman Charles Barron 
Courtesy of the Black Star News City Councilman Charles Barron Courtesy of the Black Star News “Unfortunately, this was predictable and appalling,” he said. “He shouldn't have had only been charged for a single indictment. They could have gotten him on reckless endangerment or aggravated assault. Acivil rights violation should be considered. We're all in revolution mode now because it's clear that the system isn't working for black people.”

Barron said this case is another tragic reminder that black men - especially those proven to be unarmed - are treated like criminals. “Such was the case with Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell - men who were profiled and gunned down.”

The councilman held a rally in Harlem over the weekend to bring attention to the injustice of the criminal justice system nationwide.

East Flatbush City Councilman Jumaane Williams said in a recent statement, “We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. What we are now charged with is the responsibility to sustain our unity and have our emotions fuel a relentless pursuit of reform. In 2013, it should not be this difficult, by every statistical metric, to be a black man in America.

“My continued prayers for peace and comfort go to Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, as well as the parents of every child our nation has lost to gun violence. The murder of Trayvon Martin is but the most recent example of profiling in America, a practice that is discriminatory at its best and deadly at its worst. Our society must be reexamined at every level, from law enforcement to criminal justice to the basic way we relate to each other. Laws like 'Stand Your Ground' are not only inhumane, they have exacerbated some of these basic problems. Furthermore, they are fueled by a gun culture that is literally killing our children one by one.”

State Assemblyman Alan Maisel doesn’t believe the prosecuting attorney did a good job during the trial, but he also believes that justice was only served in a legal sense – according to Florida law.

“But there’s no justice for Trayvon Martin,” the Assemblyman said. “We have a young man who is dead and I think the Department of Justice should look into the violation of civil rights rights.”

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries held a press conference on Monday with other dignitaries, calling on the Department of Justice to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation to determine if the nation's civil rights laws were violated.

“George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin, and then shot him dead in cold blood. The continuation of the Justice Department inquiry is a significant step in the right direction,” he said. “Ultimately, a federal jury should decide if Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman because he was black - in violation of our nation's hate crime laws.”

City Councilman Lew Fidler believes that true justice has not been done and told the Canarsie Courier Florida's ‘Stand Your Ground Law’ is “absurd.” He also stated the facts – that the jury believed Zimmerman was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Feeling the rising tension in the community, Fidler reflected on protests that are taking place.

“There is no productive purpose behind the rallies and they're not honoring Trayvon's memory or respecting his family if this becomes harmful to others and is turned into a violent expression of injustice,” Fidler said. “Mr. Zimmerman started this by following Trayvon and scaring him. He ended it by shooting and taking someone's life.”

A local incident – that seemed to echo the practice of racial profiling among authorities – took place in March when 16-year-old Kimani Gray was allegedly shot down by two police officers in East Flatbush near Church Avenue and East 55th Street.

The officers involved in the shooting claimed that Gray pointed a handgun at them before they opened fire, reportedly shooting at the teen at least six times.

Councilman Williams held a rally after chaos broke out in the community as a result of the shooting. Crowds reportedly looted stores and assaulted shopkeepers and much of the community was turned upside down as residents rallied against violence practiced by the NYPD. Williams and other officials called for an independent investigation into the shooting.

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