Wheels of justice move forward in Trayvon Martin case

We are heartened by recent developments in the case of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot to death in Florida on Feb. 26. George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder by special prosecutor Angela B. Corey. He made his first court appearance this afternoon.

Florida is one of several states that have “stand-your-ground” laws, which allow individuals to claim self-defense to justify use of deadly force against another individual. Corey was appointed as special prosecutor following criticism that the case had been moving too slowly. The Department of Justice and FBI also opened a civil rights investigation into the killing.

Task Force Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper says:

This is a stern reminder of just how much our nation continues to grapple with racial tension. Identity-based profiling of any kind is a serious issue and youth are especially victimized. So many people organized and rallied for justice on behalf of the Martin family. Each of us must continue to do our part. We should all be mutually concerned about these issues regardless of whether the attacks are based on race, or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Task Force and other national LGBT rights organizations released a joint letter describing Trayvon’s killing as a “national call to action”; urged local and federal authorities to find answers in the case that has garnered worldwide attention; and demanded justice be served. Read the full text here. The Task Force has long advocated for racial and economic justice.

This includes lobbying for passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, federal legislation that seeks to end racial profiling by law enforcement officials and ensure that individuals are not prejudicially stopped, investigated, arrested or detained based on their race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.

We will be submitting testimony in next Tuesday’s U.S. Senate hearing on “Ending Racial Profiling in America.” It marks the first Senate hearing on racial profiling since 2001. Lawmakers will explore the different facets of racial profiling, including discriminatory law enforcement against African Americans, state immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona that subject Latino/a Americans to heightened scrutiny and anti-terrorism efforts.

The hearing will also examine proposed solutions to racial profiling, including the End Racial Profiling Act, closing loopholes in the U.S. Department of Justice’s racial profiling guidance, and the Justice Department Civil Rights Division’s enforcement of federal civil rights laws to prevent profiling by state and local law enforcement agencies.