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NEW YORK – Florida prosecutors today charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Officials at the ACLU said the arrest was “not the end of the story” and that Zimmerman was entitled to a fair and thorough hearing.
“When it became clear that the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death was exacerbated by problematic actions of the Sanford Police and local prosecutor, the ACLU of Florida joined in the call for outside investigators to more thoroughly examine what happened that night,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.
“As a result of that investigation, George Zimmerman is now being charged with second-degree murder. “That more thorough investigation only happened because people marched, met, prayed, rallied and demanded that the criminal justice system not look the other way. “Now that charges have been brought, we must remember that Zimmerman has all the rights of every defendant charged with a crime, including a legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”
Simon continued: “This is not the end of the story, but the wheels of justice are turning. The ACLU of Florida will continue to monitor this case as it unfolds to ensure that the rights of all parties – from the demonstrators marching in solidarity with Trayvon’s family to George Zimmerman himself – are not violated.”
Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, also said that due process and equal protection under the law must be assured.
“Regardless of the outcome of this prosecution, we would be doing a disservice to Trayvon Martin, to communities of color throughout the United States and to the nation as a whole if we failed to address the major issues of discrimination and fairness which this incident and many others have brought to light,” Parker said. “The questions of whether the legal system truly provides due process to everyone regardless of race or ethnicity and whether everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy the benefits of our society still must be addressed and resolved.”