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Bishop Cox: Zimmerman Verdict Slap in the Face
DAYTON -- The Justice Department says it is looking into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case.
The department opened an investigation into Martin's death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed. In a statement Sunday, the Justice Department said the criminal section of the civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida are continuing to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal probe, in addition to the evidence and testimony from the state trial.
The statement said that, in the government's words, "experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation."
"What that verdict says: not guilty is that you can shoot and kill and African American and nothing will be done about it," said local civil rights activist Bishop Richard Cox.
He called it a sad verdict and says it's time look at the state of racial relations in this country.
"August 24th, it will be 50 years since the I have a dream speech, this is the slap in the face of the african American community. This is an injustice , justice was not served and that verdict has lit a power keg for unrest.. However we advise people to react non-violently," he said.
Now the NAACP is pursuing civil rights charges with the Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin.
"Something should be done, if you want to put on a hoodie, we should put on hoodies across the country," he said. "We need to alert our young African American men that they are an endangered species in this country. You raise a child, you raise him up, hopefully he can be a part of the American dream but the color of his skin will keep him from doing that."
"Did he have the right to use deadly force to defend himself and obviously the jury believes he did," said UD Law Professor Tom Hagel.
He says he doesn't think the outcome of this case is going to have any dramatic legal effect and believes the prosecution began to lose the case when they asked Zimmerman be charged with the lesser charge of manslaughter, not murder.
"What they're really saying is we're not sure if we have proven our case and if we can win this thing so let's give the jury of another option other than murder so at least we can find him guilty of something," said Hagel.
Still the verdict was hard to swallow for some.
"I didn't agree with it but if they found him not guilty they found him not guilty," said Ryan Richardson of Dayton. "They went through the proper judicial system we had and came up with a verdict it is what it is."
"Based on what I saw in the entire trial it was almost expected," said Kelvin Freeman of Dayton. "I don't know if they can accept the concept of a African-American man being innocent just walking down the street when he had a hood on. I think there's still a little bit of racial tension in this country."
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