Several national and local New York leaders and politicians released statements following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old unarmed teenager last year, in Sanford, Florida.
“Once again, the court system has failed to deliver justice in a racially-tinged matter that involves the killing of an innocent, unarmed African-American male,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, (N.Y.-8). “The Justice Department must open an immediate investigation to determine if George Zimmerman can be charged with violating our nation’s civil rights laws in the cold-blooded killing of Trayvon Martin.”
“Today, justice failed Trayvon Martin and his family,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP. “We call immediately for the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the civil rights violations committed against Trayvon Martin. This case has re-energized the movement to end racial profiling in the United States.”
“We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “We stand with Trayvon’s family and we are called to act. We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”
“First and foremost, my continued prayers for peace and comfort go to Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, as well as the parents of every child our nation has lost to gun violence,” said New York City Councilmember, Jumaane Williams. “The murder of Trayvon Martin is but the most recent example of profiling in America, a practice that is discriminatory at its best and deadly at its worst. Our society must be re-examined at every level, from law enforcement to criminal justice to the basic way we relate to each other. Laws like ‘Stand Your Ground’ are not only inhuman, they have exacerbated some of these basic problems. Furthermore, they are fueled by a gun culture that is literally killing our children one by one.
“We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. What we are now charged with is the responsibility to sustain our unity and have our emotions fuel a relentless pursuit of reform. In 2013, it should not be this difficult, by every statistical metric, to be a black man in America.”
New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, also a mayoral candidate said: “Today’s decision is shocking and highlights the sad reality that the day of equal justice for Trayvon and millions of other young men of color has yet to arrive. And it reminds us that we must strengthen our efforts to further equality and justice for all.”
“I am shocked and saddened to learn of the Trayvon Martin verdict,” said Manhattan Borough president Scott M. Stringer. “A young black man on his way home should have been able to walk the streets safely. Instead, he was cut down by senseless violence. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”
“A court in Florida today found George Zimmerman not guilty of second degree murder for shooting and killing unarmed 17 year old Trayvon Martin in February 2012. This is another tragedy for Black families everywhere, and another instance of how law enforcement and our criminal justice system routinely fail Black people and communities,” said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org,the nation’s largest online civil rights organization. “Were it not for Trayvon’s family and countless supporters taking action, Zimmerman would have never faced a single question about his actions at all. Tonight, as George Zimmerman walks away without penalty, the verdict sends a clear message about the minimal value placed on the lives of young Black men and boys everywhere. And it is also a clear lesson about the power of culture and media to shape negative perceptions and attitudes, with grave consequences. Since Trayvon’s death, widespread media coverage has perpetuated inaccurate and dehumanizing stereotypes of Black youth — the very kind of depictions that have served to excuse unprovoked violence against young Black men by and boys for years.
“Throughout this trial, we’ve endured a steady stream of media attacks on Trayvon Martin – an innocent, unarmed teenager who was profiled, stalked, and murdered on his way home from buying candy. By amplifying unfounded claims about Trayvon, news media magnified the very same racial stereotypes and false perceptions that put Trayvon’s life in danger in the first place, while ignoring his family’s rightful pleas for justice. Numerous outlets have been passing along unfounded, baseless conjecture as evidence, and reviving deep-seated stereotypes to validate Zimmerman’s defense. This type of newscasting portrays Black teenagers as inherently threatening and violence-prone, but it’s actually the unfair and dehumanizing portrayals in the mass news media that are proven to be life threatening to Black men and boys. We already know that inaccurate media portrayals lead to warped biases against Black people, which lead to negative attitudes and aggressive, harmful treatment by judges, juries, police and others vigilantes wielding dangerous preconceptions like George Zimmerman.
“In a media environment that continues to cast Black men and boys as thugs, it’s not surprising that the tragic death of an innocent young man has become a character trial for Black people everywhere. The media’s portrayals cannot be taken lightly when there words and images contribute to lives being put at risk. We must change news media practices and the media landscape to present evenhanded, accurate and multi-dimensional portrayals of Black people, and all people.
“After more than a year waged in battle for justice for Trayvon — the trial is finally over — but ColorofChange remains deeply committed to creating a more honest and humane media landscape. We send our love and support to Trayvon’s family and we will continue to demand an end to media, culture, and a criminal justice system that dehumanizes young Black men like Trayvon and enables a culture in which Black lives are seen as less valuable.”