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All eyes on Trayvon Martin case

March 23, 2012

As outrage builds after the recent shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., the Task Force continues to urge for a complete investigation and full justice for the Martin family.

Florida is one of several states that has enacted “stand-your-ground” laws, which allow individuals to claim self-defense to justify use of deadly force against another individual. Zimmerman told police he acted in self-defense and has not been charged or arrested based on his actions. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, whose department has been accused of bungling the investigation, announced yesterday he was temporarily stepping down amid the controversy and national scrutiny. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI are opening a civil rights investigation into the killing.

Today, President Obama weighed in:

Obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together — federal, state and local — to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened. … But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.

The Task Force has long advocated for racial and economic justice. This includes lobbying for passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, a federal law that seeks to end racial profiling by law enforcement officials and ensure that individuals are not prejudicially stopped, investigated, arrested or detained based on their race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.

We believe the fight for LGBT equality is inextricably tied to the battle to end racism, and we encourage supporters of LGBT rights to demand justice for the Martin family.

Prior to the DOJ’s announcement it would open an investigation, the Task Force urged people to sign the ColorOfChange petition calling on the DOJ to take over the case and launch an independent investigation into the Sanford police department’s unwillingness to protect Trayvon’s civil rights. View the petition here.

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