Next Steps in Honoring Trayvon Martin: It's Time for Systemic Reform

Today, our thoughts are with Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, whose young son was taken from them far too soon.

Last night's verdict casts serious doubt on whether the legal system truly provides equal protection of the laws to everyone regardless of race or ethnicity.

This case reminds us that it is imperative that the Department of Justice thoroughly examine whether the Martin shooting was a federal civil rights violation or hate crime. We call on Attorney General Eric Holder to release strengthened guidance on the use of race in federal law enforcement. We also urge Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. These specific actions would go a long way to ameliorate the widespread problem of racial profiling. We need solutions not only in Trayvon Martin's case, but also systemic reform.

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Anonymous

The Zimmerman verdict is troubling for so many reasons, and like the Casey Anthony verdict, the results shine a light on the process of jury selection. There was a time when it was reasonable to seek out a juror who had almost no knowledge of a particular crime and had not yet formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the person standing trial. But those days of lack of knowledge being a positive trait are long gone. We live in an Information Age in which it is virtually impossible for a competent and reasonable person to have no knowledge and at least some opinion of the high profile crimes in their own community. It should be the job of the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney to present the facts in such a way that an intelligent person could make a thoughtful decision about a situation that was already familiar to them. The juries in the Zimmerman and Anthony cases show that jurors who are claim. To be unaware of media coverage are bad jurors. These people are either lying, in order to get on ther jury, which I find difficult to believe, or these people are so disengaged from the lives of others in their community that they should be considered unfit to serve. These uninformed people are not peers in any acceptable way to the kind of citizens our society needs. Being 'too dumb to convict' is not a standard we should be encouraging.

Anonymous

I honestly don't think the race of Martin had any influence on the outcome of the case. I think the situation was avoidable (he should have waited for police) but had Treyvon been white/Hispanic, walking at night in a gated community he didn't live in, the circumstances would be the the same.

AGoyAndHisBlog

Question's already been asked and answered.

@puppetboy

Boo Hiss Stop Double Jeopardy
Reform the legal system if you must ..... it is certainly out of whack ....... do not cherry pick which jury decisions you like and which you do not .... otherwise... why have a trial ? Otherwise.... power and money run everything .... I refer to the power the ACLU has..... Think with your higher brain functions.... not your amygdala

mozoterja@comca...

As I understand it, the "End Profiling" bill relates to procedures and actions by law enforcement/regulatory officials. I can see a case for this in the constitution, although profiling can be a very effective tool in allocating law enforcement resources. As I understand the Zimmerman case, he was not law enforcement. I, as a private person, am not law enforcement when I decide what or whom to avoid or be wary of and what or whom to be more relaxed with...and I bear the consequences of any erroneous judgments I may make in this regard. Surely you do not intend to regulate my thought process...only my actions in terms of the applicable law.

Anonymous

I am appalled that the ACLU is injecting itself into this on the basis of what appear to be baseless allegations. While the whole Martin/Zimmerman situation is tragic there was no evidence that race was an issue. In fact, the FBI initially investigated Zimmerman and found no evidence that Zimmerman's actions were motivated by racism (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2012/0712/FBI-report-No-evidence-Ge...). Why are you asserting the contrary without evidence? If the ACLU's position is that when people of different racial makeups (remember, Zimmerman is part African-American himself) interact race must be a motivating factor in that interaction then the ACLU is dangerously close to being racist itself.

I appreciate the work the ACLU does for criminal justice, which is why I am a member, but if the ACLU is going to ignore evidence for the sake of stirring up racial tension (and, one suspects, donations) I will have to discontinue my membership, which is a shame because when one looks at some of the other stuff going on it is clear the ACLU is needed. There are many actual examples of racial bias in the American criminal system, the ACLU does not need to manufacture them.

Anonymous

If Trayvon hadn't been so violent and ignorant that he had to beat a guy's head into the curb for no apparent reason, then maybe he would still be here. The ACLU is a joke. People are being imprisoned for downloading pictures, but this sort of nonsense is all the ACLU is good for. We're no longer in the 1960s, ACLU. Take a step into the third millennium sometime.

Anonymous

I believe justice was not done but trayvon was also at fault for not respecting a person that was following him with out cause but still he could have walked away from a bad confrontation.

Anonymous

Next Steps in Honoring Trayvon Martin:

Determine how was he delivered to the psychological state that he found himself in on the night of his death?

Nicholas Weaver

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

To read about a prominent official in the ACLU endorsing a double-jeopardy "civil rights" investigation is something I find frankly disturbing. In the past, the ACLU has rightly viewed the dual sovereignty argument used to justify such a double-prosecution as legally suspect, in respect to far less sympathetic defendants. What has changed?

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