This is a sad moment for our nation. The not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman has extended the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death to a travesty and miscarriage of justice. While we must accept the jury’s decision under the due process of the legal system, we want to make it clear that this is far from over. We are focusing on two important aspects of federal law which may have been violated by George Zimmerman and which should be investigated, with the potential to lead to an additional indictment and another trial.
First, the National Urban League and Urban League Movement, along with the NAACP, National Action Network, the Black Women’s Roundtable and others, are joining to collectively ask the Department of Justice to pursue a federal criminal civil rights investigation. Our forward efforts will be to encourage the DOJ to proceed in conducting a thorough investigation of whether any federal laws were violated by George Zimmerman in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
From the very beginning of this case, if not for Ben Crump and the local community’s call to the civil rights leadership, this matter would have been swept under the rug. Our collective efforts stopped that from occurring last year. Today, we continue to send a strong message of solidarity with Trayvon's parents and with his family. But we also want to send another message - this is not the end.
The Civil Rights Movement in this country historically has been the hallmark of peaceful protest and expression, and for anyone to suggest otherwise is an effort to discredit the very issues at hand. As part of the civil rights leadership of the 21st century, we encourage people to express themselves with the discipline and responsibility that are consistent with our First Amendment rights and with the traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Activists who are concerned that justice has not been met should absolutely continue disciplined and directed advocacy on behalf of justice for this family through elected officials, social media, organized protests and other appropriate means.
As we mark the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, we also encourage people of all backgrounds to join us on August 23-24 for another historic effort in Washington, DC – the “Drum Majors for Justice Summit: Redeem the Dream” and the “Civil Rights Continuation March.” In light of the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case – and the recent Supreme Court ruling on voting rights – the civil rights continuation effort has a renewed vigor and purpose. The cause and quest for justice and civil rights in the 21st century continue.
There is no victory in this case, but we will fight until the end for justice. This is not over.