tagged w/ injustice is wrong regardless of race
Lawyer: Federal hate crime charge against Trayvon shooter a 'challenge'
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:53 AM EDT, Sun March 25, 2012
Martin case sparks rallies across U.S.
Sanford, Florida (CNN) -- Bringing a federal hate crime charge against a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin will be "a challenge, to put it lightly," the victim's lawyer said.
Daryl Parks, an attorney for the Martin family, told board members of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) on Saturday that prosecution on the state level stands a better chance.
"Most state laws tend to be better for the prosecution of state crimes. And that's why we see the federal authorities expressing, although gently, in their statements that they can only do so much if there's some type of race statements involved. The state officials don't have that problem," Parks said.
"I think the focus is not necessarily a federal arrest over a state arrest. We want an arrest, period. And I think that the state aspect of that is the one that's most feasible, most attainable in this matter."
Martin, 17, was killed February 26 as he walked back to his father's fiancee's house in Sanford, Florida, after a trip to the convenience store. Police say he was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who says he was acting in self-defense.
The teen was unarmed, carrying a bag of Skittles candy and an iced tea, according to police. Zimmerman has not been charged.
Speaking to the NABJ, Parks said there is evidence that the Twin Lakes homeowners' association told residents who saw suspicious activity to call George Zimmerman if they could not contact the police, according to an NABJ statement.
The Martin family plans to pursue a civil case against the homeowners' association, Parks said.
Meanwhile, worshipers in cities across the country will wear hoodies to church Sunday in honor Martin, who was wearing a hoodie when he was killed.
Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and Middle Collegiate Church in New York are among the churches that plan to honor the teen.
"I will also preach in a hoodie. We are doing this not for show, but to send a message that all humanity is sacred. And by saying ALL, we are including African American boys and girls, and men and women who reserve the right to wear a hoodie in the rain and not be racially profiled and killed because bigots think that their appearance is suspicious, or threatening," the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock said in a statement posted on Ebenezer's website.
A "Hundred Hoodie March" will take place Sunday in Rockford, Illinois, as well as a "Million Hoodie March" in Rochester, New York.
In Sanford, a "prayer for peace" and a candlelight vigil will take place Sunday evening. Another candlelight vigil will take place at the Civil Rights memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.
"In a nutshell, I think this case is not being handled properly -- that is why we have so many protests," Ron Campbell said after a demonstration in Virginia Beach, Virginia. "It was a senseless situation."
A handful of members from the New Black Panther Party rallied in Sanford on Saturday and offered a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman's "capture."
"It's time for us, as black men, to take justice in our own hands. If you won't give us justice, we will have to take justice," said Florida organizer Mikhail Muhammad. "An eye for an eye. A life for a life."
The New Black Panther Party, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a "virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization," is distinct from the better-known Black Panther Party, founded in the late 1960s.
The city of Sanford responded to the bounty offer by calling for "calm heads and no vigilante justice."
"Attempts by civilians to take any person into custody may result in criminal charges or unnecessary violence," it said in a statement.
Zimmerman's lawyer said Florida's "stand your ground" law doesn't apply to the shooting that killed the teen.
"In my legal opinion, that's not really applicable to this case. The statute on 'stand your ground' is primarily when you're in your house," said Craig Sonner, Zimmerman's attorney.
"This is self-defense, and that's been around for forever -- that you have a right to defend yourself. So the next issue (that) is going to come up is, was he justified in using the amount of force he did?"
The 2005 law allows people to use deadly force anywhere they have a right to be if they have reasonable fear an assailant could seriously harm them or someone else.
It also eliminated a long-standing "duty to retreat" in the face of imminent harm, asserting that would-be crime victims have the right to "stand their ground" and "meet force with force" when attacked.
The case has sparked a national debate over the Florida law and concerns about racial profiling. Martin was black and Zimmerman is white Hispanic.
The Sanford Police Department said officers were prohibited from arresting Zimmerman the night of the shooting because physical evidence and testimony supported his claim that he acted in self-defense in accordance with Florida law. The police department gave the explanation to City Manager Norton Bonaparte, who included it in a letter to the community about the case, posted on the city's website.
Zimmerman said he was driving in his gated community when he saw Martin walking and called 911 to report a suspicious person.
Zimmerman told the dispatcher he was following the boy, but the dispatcher told him that wasn't necessary. Moments later, several neighbors called 911 to report a commotion outside, and police arrived to find Martin dead of a gunshot wound.
Sonner says his client was injured that night and went to the hospital with a broken nose and a serious cut on the back of his head.
Sanford police said Zimmerman did not indicate a chase, telling them instead that "he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon," the police said in the letter posted by Bonaparte.
But the Rev. Al Sharpton said he doesn't think Zimmerman was simply protecting himself.
"This is not about self-defense. This is about a man deciding somebody, based on who he was, was a suspect and that he would take matters into his own hands," Sharpton told a crowd in New York on Saturday.
Sonner said he believes Zimmerman's life is in danger and has advised him to keep a low profile.
"This case is spinning out of control," he said. "I hope there's a way to rein things in so it doesn't become an issue of a racial battle. I hope that things come back so that there can be a time for justice and for healing and not for just skipping the whole judicial process and going straight to sentencing."
CNN's Kim Segal, Greg Morrison, John Couwels and Holly Yan contributed to this report.
Lawyer: Federal hate crime charge against Trayvon shooter a... more