It took much longer than it should have, but the outrage over the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has finally caused the FBI and the Justice Department to open a formal investigation into the teenager’s death. In a statement, the Justice Department said:
“The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation.”
The victim’s family lawyer, Ben Crump, said public pressure was behind an earlier promise by the Justice Department to review the case. Some 533,000 signatures have been gathered on a petition on change.org calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman who shot the unarmed teenager in a gated Florida community. Over the weekend, 911 tapes of witnesses to the shooting, including one where the victim and the shooter can be heard screaming in the background, sparked many to action, including a number of celebs. Spike Lee and Wyclef Jean sent out tweets encouraging their followers to sign the petition, and it seems the move is working.
Zimmerman initially escaped arrest under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, dubbed “shoot first, ask questions later” by opposers, which allows a potential victim who is “in fear of great bodily injury” to use deadly force in public places. Crump says that defense is ludicrous.
“It’s illogical, you can['t] claim self defense after you chase and pursue somebody,” he said. “That’s a courtroom defense. That’s not something the police accept on the side of the street.”
Hopefully it’s not something the FBI or the defense department will accept either and George Zimmerman will be arrested as he should have been on Feb. 26.
Have you signed the petition at Change.org?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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