Lewis Diuguid

Focus remains on whether black lives matter in shadow of Justice Department decision against charges in Trayvon Martin slaying

Jaylen Reese, 12, of Atlanta, in 2013 marched to downtown during a protest of George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. The Justice Department decided Tuesday against filing civil rights charges in the slaying.
Jaylen Reese, 12, of Atlanta, in 2013 marched to downtown during a protest of George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. The Justice Department decided Tuesday against filing civil rights charges in the slaying. The Associated Press

It is sad, but not surprising, that no civil rights charges will be filed in the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The 17-year-old was gunned down in Sanford, Fla., by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Trayvon, who was black, was viewed as a suspect even though he was just returning from a store with a soft drink and Skittles.

Zimmerman was acquitted in the homicide. The case centered on Florida’s stand your ground liberal gun law, which also became a subject of concern in other states.

The Justice Department decision Tuesday adds to the ages-old question the slaying raised in America — Do black lives matter?

That became a major point in protests — some that turned violent — last year after police killings of unarmed African Americans Eric Garner, 43, on July 17 in New York City, Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., and Tamir Rice, 12, on Nov. 22 in Cleveland.

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorofChange.org, issued the following statement after outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department decision in the Trayvon Martin case:

“We will continue to fight for Trayvon and others like him who lost their lives unjustly by working to reform the media culture, police force and a criminal justice system that dehumanizes young black men and enables a society in which black lives are seen as less valuable.

“Over the past few years hundreds of thousands of ColorofChange members have spoken out against Florida’s deadly “Shoot First” law, which was able to shield Zimmerman from arrest and prosecution. Since Trayvon’s murder, we have seen countless other innocent young black men die.

“In this time of national sorrow, let us continue to turn our rightful frustration into action and build a movement to hold accountable the criminal justice system that fails black Americans every day.”

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