Prompted by growing public outrage and awareness, members of Congress, and the teen’s family, Monday night the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI announced that they have opened an investigation into the murder of Trayvon Martin, which may be looked at as a hate crime.
The DOJ statement read:
“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 department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids – the highest level of intent in criminal law. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws.”
This news comes on the heels of the full 911 tape of Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman, being released. In the tape Zimmerman repeatedly describes Trayvon’s race, disparages his character, and many feel can be heard whispering “f*cking coons” as he disobeys the 911 operator’s orders and begins chasing Trayvon.
Mother Jones has authenticated the tape, and although they say the slur is “unintelligable,” many (including myself) believe Zimmerman refers to Trayvon as a “coon” (at the 2:21 mark).
Another startling development in the case is that we now know the teen was on his phone talking to a friend moments before he was murdered.
Trayvon’s girlfriend spoke to ABC news Tuesday morning and said the teen told her someone was following him and that he was going to try to get away. She also claims she heard the man confront Trayvon.
The girl told ABC News, “Trayvon said ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.”
This story has touched many around the world. Despite flying under the radar for nearly a month, social media helped to spread Trayvon’s story and now the national media and DOJ is searching for answers.
But will there be justice for Trayvon Martin and his family? That remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: we will be watching.
The state attorney in Seminole County, Florida announced they will convene a grand jury to investigate the murder of Trayvon Martin. The grand jury will be called into session on April 10.
Norm Wolfinger, the local state prosecutor, released a statement: “I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. The public is entitled to no less than a thorough, deliberate, and just review of the facts. We intend to honor that commitment.”
We will continue to keep you posted.
*Want to get involved? Here are 3 ways you can help get justice for Trayvon Martin.