DOJ: George Zimmerman Won’t Face Federal Charges for Killing Trayvon Martin

Report: DOJ Finds No Evidence Zimmerman Intentionally Violated Trayvon Martin's Civil Rights

Report: DOJ Finds No Evidence Zimmerman Intentionally Violated Trayvon Martin’s Civil Rights

ABC News is reporting that the Justice Department found no evidence George Zimmerman intentionally violated Trayvon Martin’s civil rights when he fatally shot him in Sanford, Fla. In other words, he will not face any federal charges. The teen was not armed when he was killed in February, 2012.

Here’s the entire press release from the DOJ on Trayvon Martin case:

The Justice Department announced today that the independent federal investigation found insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida.  Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, officials from the FBI, and the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service met today with Martin’s family and their representatives to inform them of the findings of the investigation and the decision.

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy.  It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface.  We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

Following the shooting, a team of some of the department’s most experienced civil rights prosecutors and FBI agents conducted a comprehensive, independent investigation of the events of Feb. 26, 2012.  The federal investigation was opened and conducted separately from the state of Florida’s investigation of the shooting under local laws.  Once the state initiated the second-degree murder prosecution, federal investigators began monitoring the state’s case and halted active investigation in order not to interfere with the state’s trial.  Federal investigators provided reports of interviews and other evidence they obtained to the state’s prosecution team.

Shortly after Zimmerman’s acquittal in state court on July 13, 2013, federal investigators resumed active investigation.  Federal investigators reviewed all of the material and evidence generated by the state of Florida in connection with its investigation and prosecution of Zimmerman, including witness statements, crime scene evidence, cell phone data, ballistics reports, reconstruction analysis, medical and autopsy reports, depositions, and the trial record.  Federal investigators also independently conducted 75 witness interviews and obtained and reviewed the contents of relevant electronic devices.  The investigation included an examination of police reports and additional evidence that was generated related to encounters Zimmerman has had with law enforcement in Florida since the state trial acquittal.  In addition, federal authorities retained an independent biomechanical expert who assessed Zimmerman’s descriptions of the struggle and the shooting.

The federal investigation sought to determine whether the evidence of the events that led to Martin’s death were sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman’s actions violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes, specifically Section 3631 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code or Section 249 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, as well as other relevant federal criminal statutes.  Section 3631 criminalizes willfully using force or threat of force to interfere with a person’s federally protected housing rights on account of that person’s race or color.  Section 249 criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of that person’s actual or perceived race.  Courts define “willfully” to require proof that a defendant knew his acts were unlawful, and committed those acts in open defiance of the law.  It is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law.

The federal investigation examined whether Zimmerman violated civil rights statutes at any point during his interaction with Martin, from their initial encounter through the fatal shooting.  This included investigating whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 by approaching Martin in a threatening manner before the fatal shooting because of Martin’s race and because he was using the residential neighborhood.  Investigators also looked at whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 or Section 249, by using force against Martin either during their struggle or when shooting Martin, because of Martin’s race.

“Although the department has determined that this matter cannot be prosecuted federally, it is important to remember that this incident resulted in the tragic loss of a teenager’s life,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases.”

After a thorough and independent investigation into the facts surrounding the shooting, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of these statutes.  Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed.  This decision is limited strictly to the department’s inability to meet the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statutes; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the shooting.

The Justice Department is committed to investigations of allegations of bias-motivated violence and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that allegations of civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.  The department aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.

The family of Trayvon Martin issued a statement:

“We would like to thank the Department of Justice for their extensive and thorough investigation into the killing of our son. Although we are disappointed in these findings, it has steeled our resolve to continue traveling the country with the message of the Trayvon Martin Foundation.

We remain poised to do everything in our power to help eradicate senseless violence in our communities, because we don’t want any other parent to experience the unexplainable loss we have endured,” the family statement read. “We will never, ever forget what happened to our son, Trayvon, and will honor his memory by working tirelessly to make the world a better place.”

Oprah Winfrey, Selma Stars to Lead March in Selma for MLK Birthday

Oprah Winfrey, Selma Stars to Lead March in Selma for MLK Birthday

Oprah Winfrey, Selma Stars to Lead March in Selma for MLK Birthday

Oprah Winfrey and “Selma” stars to lead march in Selma to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Director Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo (who played Dr. King in the movie), who were snubbed for an Oscar nomination, take part in the march. Rapper Common, who was nominated for an Oscar for a song in the film, “Glory,” along with John Legend, will also take part in the march.

Mediaite reports the Selma march will be held on Sunday and will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Rep. Terri Sewell. The film will also be screen after the march.

New Yorker Magazine cover pays tribute to MLK, Wenjian Liu, Eric Garner

New Yorker Magazine cover pays tribute to MLK, Wenjian Liu, Eric Garner (Photo credit: New Yorker)

Separately, the New Yorker magazine’s latest cover honors Dr. King and his legacy by showing him marching with Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and slain police officer Wenjian Liu.

 

Former DC Mayor, Civil Rights Activist Marion Barry Dies At Age 78

Former DC Mayor, Civil Rights Activist Marion Barry Dies At Age 78

Former DC Mayor, Civil Rights Activist Marion Barry Dies At Age 78

Former Washington D.C. mayor and civil rights activist Marion Barry dies at age 78. Barry, who was dogged by allegations of drug and alcohol abuse during his longtime stint as mayor, was a council member of Washington’s 8th ward at the time of his death, the Washington Post reports. He was elected four times as Washington D.C. mayor.

The cause of Marion Barry’s death is unknown, but his spokeswoman LaToya Foster said he collapsed outside his home. He died shortly after midnight at the United Medical Center, after he was released from Howard University Hospital on Saturday.

Statement from Marion Barry’s office : “It is with deep regret that the family of former Four-time D.C. Mayor, and Ward 8 City Councilman, Marion S. Barry, Jr., announces that he has passed.” – @mattacklandfox5
You will recall in 1990 Barry was caught on a grainy video lighting a crack pipe in a downtown Washington D.C. hotel with a much younger woman. When FBI burst in the room Barry said “she set me up!”

Maine Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse Kaci Hickox

Maine Judge Sides with State, Orders Ebola Quarantine for Nurse Kaci Hickox

Maine Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse Kaci Hickox (Photo Credit: MySpace)

UPDATE #1: The judge sided with Kaci Hickox against an Ebola quarantine as requested by the state of Maine on Friday, one day after ordering a temporary restriction of her movements, the NY Times reports.

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who has been defying authorities to remain under quarantine after returning from Ebola-stricken Guinea, got a temporary smack-down by Maine District Courts Judge Charles LaVerdiere. Here’s more from the New York Times:

The State of Maine has issued a court-ordered quarantine, requiring a nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa to stay in her hometown, avoid public transit and businesses, and remain at least three feet away from others when outdoors.

The order was signed on Thursday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves on courts in Kennebec and Somerset County.

“This decision has critical implications for Respondent’s freedom, as guaranteed by the U.S. and Maine Constitutions, as well as the public’s right to be protected from the potential severe harm posed by transmission of this devastating disease,” Judge LaVerdiere wrote in the order.

The judge ordered a hearing on Ms. Hickox’s quarantine to take place within 10 days, when he can weigh whether it violates her civil rights.

Black Students More Likely to Be Suspended From US Public Schools, Even as Preschoolers

Black Students More Likely to Be Suspended From US Public Schools

Black Students More Likely to Be Suspended From US Public Schools (Credit: Wikipedia)

A report released by the Department of Education’s civil rights division, found that black students were more likely to be suspended from U.S. public schools, even as preschoolers, than whites. In other words, Americans schools are still RACIST.

Attorney General Eric Holder said, “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool.” “Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed. This Administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities.”

Here are the key findings from the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Unit:

  • Access to preschool. About 40% of public school districts do not offer preschool, and where it is available, it is mostly part-day only. Of the school districts that operate public preschool programs, barely half are available to all students within the district.
  • Suspension of preschool children. Black students represent 18% of preschool enrollment but 42% of students suspended once, and 48% of the students suspended more than once.
  • Access to advanced courses. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Asian-American high school students and 71% of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics). However, less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school. Black students (57%), Latino students (67%), students with disabilities (63%), and English language learner students (65%) also have less access to the full range of courses.
  • Access to college counselors. Nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor; in Florida and Minnesota, more than two in five students lack access to a school counselor.
  • Retention of English learners in high school. English learners make up 5% of high school enrollment but 11% of high school students held back each year.

[H/T Rawstory]

MLK Family Wants Approval Rights Over Monument on GA State Capitol Grounds

MLK Family Wants Approval Rights Over Monument on GA State Capitol Grounds

MLK Family Wants Approval Rights Over Monument on GA State Capitol Grounds (Credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a sad commentary that the children of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the King Estate continue to tarnish his name with petty squabbles and money-grubbing.  The latest dust-up is over Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia legislators seeking to honor Dr. King on Capitol grounds. The family of Dr. King have sent notice to Gov. Deal saying they want approval rights over any image of their father being used at the state Capitol.

On Monday, the same day the a bill was passed to honor Dr. King on state Capitol grounds, Intellectual Properties Management, Inc., the company that oversees the King estate, sent a letter to Chris Riley, Gov. Deal’s chief of staff, to remind him that the King estate owns all rights to the civil rights leader’s “name, image, likeness, words, rights of publicity, copyrighted works, recorded voice and trademark interests.” The letter also chided Gov. Deal for not reaching out to the family for permission:

“When the media reported that the Governor referenced this initiative in remarks he made on the King Holiday, we expected to hear from your office and the appropriate parties seeking the Estate’s input and approval. To date, we have not received any formal request for permission to utilize any of Dr. King’s [intellectual property]. Nonetheless, we would be delibhted to work with you on determining an appropriate way to honor Dr. King….Your assistance would be greatly appreciated in expediting our review of the proposal to honor Dr. King and thus provide input.”

Chris Riley responded via e-mail to IPM’s letter:

“Mr. Tidwell:

We will continue to monitor the legislation. Please do not assume the governor would ever try to financially capitalize on the legacy of Dr. King. He is simply…trying to honor a great Georgian.”

The mention of money didn’t sit too well with Mr. Tidwell, who responded right away:

“The notion of monetizing Dr. King’s image on the part of the Governor never crossed our mind….This has to do with respecting property rights by including the rights holder in the process to determine how Dr. King will be honored….We look forward to working with you and having the opportunity to review the proposed legislation.”

I am so sick and tired of hearing about Martin Luther King III, Bernice King and Dexter King. They continue to do a great disservice to the legacy of their father. They seem to be motivated by avarice than by his selflessness and giving his life to a cause he held true. This comes as Bernice King, who was sued by her brothers, agreed to turn over their father’s Nobel Peace prize and family Bible to a court for safe-keeping, pending the outcome of a civil suit to sell the items. It’s a sad commentary that nothing is sacred to Martin Luther King III and his brother. They are willing to sell their father’s prized possessions to the highest bidders. Personally, I would not donate one penny to anything they have a hand in because it’s all about money for them.

Read more from Jim Galloway.

7 Democrats Including Sen. Joe Manchin, Vote Down Debo Adegbile for Top Civil Rights Job

7 Democrats Including Joe Manchin, Vote Down Debo Adegbile for Top Civil Rights Job

7 Democrats Including Joe Manchin, Vote Down Debo Adegbile for Top Civil Rights Job

Seven Democrats voted with Republicans to torpedo Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s pick for the top civil rights position, because he represented cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Those seven Democrats are: Sens. Bob Casey (PA), Chris Coons (DE), Joe Donnelly (IND), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Manchin (WV), Mark Pryor (AR) and John Walsh (MT).

Never mind the fact that Debo Adegbile is one of the top civil rights attorneys in the U.S. He is a leading expert on voting rights and twice defended the Voting Rights Act before the US Supreme Court.

Debo Adegbile was the best person President Obama could have nominated to oversee the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. 

More from Think Progress:

Although most of these senators have yet to offer an explanation for their votes — and the Senate offices ThinkProgress contacted shortly after the vote were not especially forthcoming — it is likely that their votes were motivated by a campaign to disqualify Adegbile because of a high profile case the NAACP LDF participated in during his time with that organization.

In 2008, a federal appeals court unanimously held — with two Reagan appointees on the panel — that procedures used during a convicted cop killer named Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death penalty hearing violated the Constitution. Specifically, the panel of predominantly Republican judges concluded that the trial judge gave the jury a confusing form that could have been read to require a death sentence unless every single juror agreed to a life sentence. The NAACP LDF filed an amicus brief on Abu-Jamal’s behalf.

At least one of the Democrats who opposed Adegbile, Sen. Casey, cited his work to overturn this unconstitutional death sentence as the reason for his opposition.

As MSNBC’s Adam Serwer points out, the Senate was not always so critical of lawyers who help bad people fight potentially unconstitutional death sentences. Indeed, as an attorney in private practice, Chief Justice John Roberts “devoted 25 pro bono hours” to representing a mass murderer recently executed in Florida.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said the Senate’s rejection of Debo Adegbile to lead Justice Department’s civil rights division was the ‘lowest point’ of his 3-decade career – @mkraju

Rush Limbaugh: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Being ‘Bullied’ to Veto New Jim Crow Bill

Rush Limbaugh: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Being 'Bullied' to Veto New Jim Crow Bill

Rush Limbaugh: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Being ‘Bullied’ to Veto New Jim Crow Bill (Credit: Salon)

I double dog dare Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to listen to conservative windbag Rush Limbaugh and sign the new Jim Crow bill, SB 1062 ( the Religious Freedom Restoration Act). I might also add that Georgia Republicans are trying to ram an equally controversial bill down our throats too.

Right talk radio is turning its focus this week to Arizona’s controversial bill that would allow business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers, and Rush Limbaugh is leading with the charge that Gov. Jan Brewer is being “bullied” into vetoing the measure “in order to advance the gay agenda.”

Limbaugh on Tuesday told his listeners that the media’s “soap storyline of the hour” is whether or not Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will veto SB 1062, which the state’s legislature passed last week.

“Religious beliefs can’t be used to stop anything the left wants to impose, unless they’re Muslim religious beliefs and then we have to honor those. But any other religious beliefs are not permitted,” Limbaugh said. “The left will not allow them. Now, the current thinking is that Gov. Brewer will probably veto the bill, which, you might think on the face of it will make her a hero with the news media and the rest of the left.”

Sure, it might make her a hero, he said — “for five minutes.” And then she’ll go back to being a “near criminal conservative Republican,” Limbaugh continued, because “their reaction will be, what took her so long? Why did she even consider not vetoing this?”

“She’s being bullied by the homosexual lobby in Arizona and elsewhere,” he said. “She’s being bullied by the nationwide drive-by media, she’s being bullied by certain elements of corporate America in order to advance the gay agenda. I guess in that circumstance bullying is admirable. In fact, this kind of bullying is honorable.” Source: Politico

Um, yeah…whatever Rush, whatever…..

US Supreme Court Rejects Ex-Klansman Edgar Ray Killen Appeal in 1964 Slaying of 3 Civil Rights Workers

Klansman Edgar Ray Killen Appeal for Civil Rights Workers Murders

SCOTUS Rejects Ex-Klansman Edgar Ray Killen Appeal for Civil Rights Workers Murders

BREAKING:  US Supreme Court rejects former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen’s appeal in 1964 slayings of 3 civil rights workers in Mississippi. The deaths were dramatized in 1988 in the film “Mississippi Burning.

Edgar Ray Killen, now 88, was convicted of manslaughter on June 21, 2005, 41 years after the murders of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. Killen, a former sawmill operator and one-time Baptist preacher, is serving 60 years in a Mississippi prison.

Schwerner and Goodman, two white men from New York, came to Mississippi in 1964 as part of Freedom Summer and teamed up with James Chaney, a young black Mississippi resident, to help register black voters. They were ambushed by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Neshoba County and killed. They were buried in an earthen dam. It took weeks for their bodies to be found.

Wife of Civil Rights Icon Rev. Joseph Lowery In Critical Condition After Suffering a Stroke

Civil Rights Icon Rev. Joseph Lowery In Critical Condition After Suffering a Stroke

Wife of Civil Rights Icon Rev. Joseph Lowery In Critical Condition After Suffering a Stroke

BREAKING:  The wife of Civil rights icon Rev. Joseph Lowery, Evelyn Lowery, in critical condition in an Atlanta hospital after suffering a stroke.

In a statement issued by the family, Evelyn Lowery is in critical condition and is currently under-going treatment at an undisclosed hospital.

“As a family of faith, the Lowerys remain in prayer for their mother’s recovery,” the statement read. “Rev. Lowery remains by his wife’s side and asks for the community’s continued prayers.” Source: WSB-TV

[UPDATED 09/21/13]: “After many consultations with top medical experts, the Lowery family is saddened to learn that the stroke suffered by our beloved Evelyn has caused irreversible damage,” the statement read.

“As a family of faith, we remain by her side in constant prayer, knowing that God is in control, while also fully understanding her medical condition and that the team of experts have done all that they can do,” the statement continued. “Though she remains in critical condition, we are blessed that she is still with us.” Source: AJC