George Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon Martin in late February of last year. It took 45 days for Sanford, Florida police to arrest 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s admitted killer — and only 16 hours for jurors to acquit him of second-degree murder and manslaughter last night.1
We are angry. We are sad. And we are in pain.
We send our love and support to Trayvon’s parents — Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin — and we grieve with them and the countless other families of Black children who have been killed just for being Black.2
In this time of national sorrow, let’s turn our rightful frustration into action and grow a movement to hold the criminal justice system that fails Black Americans every day3 accountable.
Since the beginning, the Department of Justice has closely monitored the state’s case against George Zimmerman, and the DOJ can still bring charges against Trayvon’s killer. Please join us in calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to bring federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, and help us strengthen our efforts to end racial profiling and the violence it creates.
What does it say about our society when a civilian can shoot and kill a Black child who is just walking home from the store, and what can it mean when the killer is set free? What does this say about the value our society places on the lives of young Black children? It tells us that a Black life has little worth. It tells us that Black youth are seen as nothing more than violent criminals.4 And it tells us how much more work we must do to achieve a just society.
The police department in Sanford botched the investigation from start to finish.5 But we did not stay silent. Had it not been for the dedicated activism and work of Trayvon’s family, ColorOfChange members and countless others, Zimmerman may have never been arrested — let alone gone to trial. Our collective commitment to fight for justice for Trayvon was overwhelming. We responded. We organized. We forced authorities to make an arrest in a case that easily could have been forgotten, just like so many before. The US Department of Justice was forced to intervene, and although it took 45 days, Zimmerman was eventually arrested and charged with murder.6
Thousands of ColorOfChange members spoke out against Florida’s “Shoot First” law, which initially shielded George Zimmerman from arrest and prosecution.7 The shadowy lobbying organization the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — and its deep-pocketed supporters at the National Rifle Association (NRA) — proliferated these laws around the country. Since ColorOfChange began drawing attention to ALEC’s role in crafting these deadly Shoot First laws, 52 corporations and nonprofits and at least 70 state legislators have publicly disavowed any relationship with the group.8
Working together, our movement is a powerful force for change. Please join us in calling for an end to impunity. Demand that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. And when you take action, please ask your family and friends to do the same.