In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas called on the Department of Justice to fulfill its mission and defend the civil rights of Trayvon Martin—and by extension all Americans.
He noted in the letter that George Zimmerman’s acquittal by a Florida jury for second degree murder and manslaughter should not absolve him of Trayvon Martin’s wrongful death. Federal intervention can do what the Florida court did not do which is to squarely address the issue of race and the role that it played in the wrongful death of young Trayvon Martin.
Federal civil rights statutes allow for the criminal prosecution of ordinary citizens when racial motivation results in bodily injury. The Florida jury was not asked to answer whether Trayvon Martin’s fundamental civil right to walk down the street was violated by George Zimmerman. The answer to this question, wrote Chairman Ridley-Thomas, is unfinished business.
“I understand that civil rights enforcement is a critical priority for President Barack Obama’s administration,” he wrote. “The mission of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is to protect and defend the civil rights of all individuals. As such, I respectfully request that the Department of Justice fulfill its mission.”