Obama urges calm in aftermath of Zimmerman verdict
MOSCOW, July 15 (RAPSI) - US President Barrack Obama has urged calm in the aftermath of the highly divisive jury verdict that saw defendant George Zimmerman acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin, who was gunned down in a Florida neighborhood in February 2012.
According to the transcript of a 911 call published by The Washington Post, Zimmerman placed a call on the evening of February 26, 2012 to report a young man who looked “real suspicious” and appeared to be “up to no good or [like he was] on drugs or something.” When Zimmerman confirmed he was following the young man, the dispatcher said, “Ok, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman had expressed concern that the young man was “coming to check [him] out,” and that he had something in his hands. At the start of the phone call, Zimmerman had mentioned that there had been “some break-ins in [his] neighborhood,” and told the dispatcher that the young man had been walking around, looking at houses.
After the ensuing altercation that resulted in Martin’s death, it was widely reported that Zimmerman acknowledged having shot the unarmed teenager, but claimed self-defense. The defense appears to have satisfied the jury, which acquitted him Saturday of murder and manslaughter.
The US president took an early interest in the case, which proved widely divisive. During an appearance in March 2012, Obama was asked to comment on the case – then only a month old. He responded: “my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”
In a statement issued Sunday, Obama stated: “The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”
Executive Director Anthony D. Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a highly influential civil rights organization, issued a statement Sunday stating that the verdict: “casts serious doubt on whether the legal system truly provides equal protection of the laws to everyone regardless of race or ethnicity.”
A petition posted to the website of another renowned American civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), urges the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to act, stating: “The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida's prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act… The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.”
Romero’s statement as well called on the DOJ to consider whether the shooting constituted a federal civil rights violation or hate crime. He further called on Congress to pass a law aiming at ending racial profiling.