Petitions get one million signatures for Zimmerman charges
July 16th, 2013
04:48 PM ET
5 years ago

Petitions get one million signatures for Zimmerman charges

(CNN) – One million people have so far signed online petitions by the NAACP and calling for federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Three days after Zimmerman was found not guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter after a February 2012 confrontation with Martin, thousands have taken to the streets and the digital highways to call for federal action.

"The most fundamental of civil rights – the right to life – was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," the petition reads on the NAACP's website. "We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation."

Supporters of the petitions, which went online shortly after the verdict Saturday night, argue that Zimmerman pursued and confronted Martin specifically because the teenager was black.

The only juror of the six-member, all-woman panel to come forward so far after the verdict has said she did not feel race played a part in the confrontation.

To succeed, civil rights charges against Zimmerman would have to meet a very high burden of proof in showing that he racially profiled Martin.

The Department of Justice first considered the case last year. At the time, Attorney General Eric Holder said "for a federal hate crime, we have to prove the highest standard in the law."

Now, petitioners on and the NAACP's website want Holder to take another look.

"The support our petition has received shows the mindset of the American public, who are tired of a system of justice that allows for appalling verdicts like the one we saw on Saturday," Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, said in a statement.

The number of petitioners is not available online, and results have been reported in statements from the NAACP. The one million number comes from a combination of the two petitions. A separate petition on the White House's website has so far amassed 25,000 signatures, a quarter of the 100,000 signatures it would need to get a response.

Holder has indicated that he is watching. The Justice Department will "continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law," he said in a speech in Washington Monday, examining what he called "the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin."

While commentators on both sides of the political spectrum have weighed in freely on whether or not additional legal action should be pursued against Zimmerman, President Barack Obama has not commented on potential federal charges.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the decision to prosecute Zimmerman "is not something the president involves himself in," he said. Obama "has no opinion to express about the disposition about how the Justice Department will look at this."

- CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Filed under: Eric Holder • Justice Department • NAACP
soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. OLivia P. Smith

    As I see it our race in America is considered worthless. We have done so much to help build this country and we don' t get the credit we deserve. We as a race need to come together and stop the killing of one another, instead of hating each other. Because believe it or not other races hate us as well. The KKK made a point some time ago that they didn't have to get rid of us, because eventually we would do it ourselves and it is happening.

    July 16, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  2. ZombieTech

    Another thing, there's already PROOF out there that Zimmerman is racist... they found his old MySpace page where he made bunches of racially aimed comments based on people by judging them by their skintones. Google "Zimmerman racist MySpace" and you'll see what I mean, even Huffington has an article covering it.

    Along with the fact Zimmerman was obvliously paranoid or with delusions of grandeur believed he was some sort of kingpin of the neighborhood... it was documented that in a few years he called 911 something like 48 times... for all sorts of oddball things like, a garage door was left open. Really? He couldn't call the direct police-department line, or at the very least, knock on his neighbor's door to say, "hey, I saw your garage door open and was worried somebody might take stuff from your garage". For a guy that went to college to study legal law, he's proven it's a good thing the police denied him being a police officer due to poor credit... because so far, he's shown absolutely zero evidence of being able to make sound judgements and proper decisions. o_O

    July 16, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  3. Davis

    There is no evidence of civil rights violations, Holder is just stringing you guys along, don't be so foolish as to believe this man.

    July 16, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  4. emilie56

    The jury trial was about whether Zimmerman felt threatened to the extent that he thought he himself would be killed. That is what he was brought to trial for. This is what the state allowed itself to come up with – did he feel threatened. If the defense could prove that Zimmerman felt threatened then the man could not be convicted. That is how the law reads in the state of Florida. This is what the defense fought for.

    The prosecution tried to prove Zimmerman did not feel threatened. Now how can you prove a person didn't feel threatened? You cannot. That is the problem. The prosecution had nothing to work with.

    Now if we do not like the justice system our recourse has to be telling our elected representatives that we want the law changed.

    Doing anything else, having marches that may turn riotous will only dishonor Trayvon Martin's life and death and his name will forever be associated with violence. Is that what people want?

    July 16, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. ZombieTech

    Also, Zimmerman already has proof out there that he's racist. Just Google search, "Zimmerman racist MySpace"... even Huffington did an article over his old MySpace profile blasting people based on judging them by their skintones and making bunches of racial remarks.

    Not to mention his mindset of being quite paranoid. Think they said in a few years he called 911 something like 48 times? Even for silly issues like somebody leaving their garage door open. Why not call that neighbor or knock on their door letting them know you're worried somebody might take things out of their garage... or at the farthest call the police-department directly, not 911. For somebody like Zimmerman to have studied legal law in college, and wanting so badly to be a police officer, perhaps it's a good thing he was denied on poor credit... because he's shown absolutely ZERO proof that he's capable of making sound decisions and proper judgements.

    July 16, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. John

    I'm neither a white or black and don't stand on either side. However, I believe this issue has to be stopped from being politicalized into racism. Imagine if both of them were whites, blacks, latinos, or Asians. Based on the information available I don't think any jury would come out with a different conclusion – that is solely based on evidences. There will be no conclusion that both sides would be satisfied in these kind of issues. The law has spoken, the president has spoken. Let's respect it and stop pulling every issue into racism just because we can.

    July 16, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. jim

    Obama made this case about race no one else. both sides picked the jury.they voted not guilty,we have to live with that . all this other stuff is about money.if they can keep this in the media then the payoff is bigger jackson and sharpton want a bigger share of the pay out that,s why they are keeping in the media,they don't care about Trayvon they care about the money.Obama can put a stop to all the violence and looting by calling off his hit man, Holder.

    July 16, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. chicago urbanite

    Where do I sign to leave Zimmerman alone? All of these people who were not there and not a member of the jury have already convicted Zimmerman long before the trail even started. Stop being a lapdog of the media. Think for yourselves. No one knows what happened. A jury spoke. That is one of the greatest things about this country. Someone is innocent until proven guilty. 25-40 people get shot every weekend. EVERY WEEKEND in Chicago. Where is Sharpton and Jackson for that injustice?

    July 16, 2013 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  9. KMAZ

    If the DOJ decides to pursue civil rights charges against Zimmerman, than the DOJ needs to go back and re-file for every other case that could fall under those same circumstances, (regardless of which race vs race it is); however, they would never do it because they know courts would be tied up for years and probably wouldn't like the outcomes. You can't "cherry pick" which cases to use the "Civil Rights" claim, especially if it is being done for nothing but pure political gesturing.

    July 16, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. Michael

    So next time someone starts a fight with you regardless of race or what your doing at the time you should let them beat you till your death? You are all morons if necessary I will protect myself and if it requires extreme force so be it. This whole ordeal has been all about assumptions. Sorry but the evidence that was withheld of the little gangsters pictures, smoking weed and his love of guns should play into this. Instead the largest racist group I know (I will not say who) is saying he is innocent. And you know this for a fact? No you don't! However it seems theirs is more black on black and black on white violence now then ever before can you explain that? Raise your kids to respect EVERYONE no matter what race they are. That is how I was raised and how I raised my children. End of rant.

    July 16, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. PSJ

    This is why we have a constitution and (supposedly) a rule of law.
    1. GZ was acquitted by reason of self defense. Period. Done.
    2. There is NO WAY that this case fits the federal charging criteria of a "Hate Crime" (the only possibility for a private citizen.

    The people screaming now are NOT looking for "justice". That has been done according to the law.
    There are simply a lynch mob howling for REVENGE.

    This sad chapter is OVER. Let it rest.

    July 16, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  12. Name

    How totally stupid. Leave the man alone. He was not convicted. Which means in America he is innocent.

    July 16, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  13. Kingfish

    No one, no one, no one but Zimmerman knows what was in his head nor the circumstances so all of you who think you know what was in his head are just speculating. HOW DARE you say you know what was in his head or the real circumstances/ No doubt blacks have been historically killed for no reason but their color and I understand you think this case is now a pedestal for this awful history but by demonstrating blacks and their supporters just make it worse. Wake up and do something positive or only this negative will continue. I assume you don't want it to!!!!

    July 16, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  14. liz

    here is time for everything. It's time to bin the jury system which catapults ordinary citizens with different backgrounds and often without the faintest idea about laws and sanctions to make life changing decisions.

    Trayvon Martin on my mind!! I wasn't too surprised that they came up with a 'Not Guilty' verdict. Afterall, a few hours prior to reaching a verdict, the jury sought 'clarification on the crime of manslaughter and it's implications'!!! Oh wow!!

    Bin the jury system and let real justice be carried out through those that truly understand it. — feeling annoyed.

    July 16, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. David

    Eric Holder better keep his dogs on a leash, because no civil rights were broken, unless you want to count what Trayvon said, and even that is hearsay at best. The minority community needs to realize they are being fed terrible and twisted information from the news media. The real fact is that Trayvon lost it because someone was following him, which happens millions of times a day. Just yesterday, I was headed in the same direction as another minority, "so basically I followed them for two whole blocks, now guess what happened?" Nothing! Trayvon had anger management issues plain and simple and if it was not Zimmerman, it would have been someone else.

    July 16, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  16. liz

    There is time for everything. It's time to bin the jury system which catapults ordinary citizens with different backgrounds and often without the faintest idea about laws and sanctions to make life changing decisions.

    Trayvon Martin on my mind!! I wasn't too surprised that they came up with a 'Not Guilty' verdict. Afterall, a few hours prior to reaching a verdict, the jury sought 'clarification on the crime of manslaughter and it's implications'!!! Oh wow!!

    Bin the jury system and let real justice be carried out through those that truly understand it. — feeling annoyed.

    July 16, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. Chris

    The Democrats are even turn on their own supporters. I think he was a Democrat.

    July 16, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  18. abbydelabbey

    What is really telling of the racism involved is that a black woman who fired WARNING shots at an abusive husband (against whom she had a protective order) has been sentenced to 20 years in prison whereas Zimmerman who killed a teenager was acquitted. She tried to use the Stand Your Ground defense and she was still convicted. Apparently, in Florida it DOES matter who your father is (a retired judge) and what color your skin is (not black).

    I think that Americans need to boycott Florida. Refuse to visit a state dependent on tourism. Refuse to purchase products from Florida. The only thing Republicans (the governor is a Republican) understand is money.

    July 16, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  19. ZombieTech

    And for any that don't know, George Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman Sr. is a "retired Supreme Court magistrate"... considering all the legal incidents and issues George has had in the past that seem to just roll right off his back to slaps on the wrist up until this... really makes me wonder if daddy hasn't been helping to get him off the hook in some shape or form.

    July 16, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  20. Timothy Taylor

    George Zimmerman actually just got away with not only a hate crimes but also a first-degree murder (not 2nd degree).
    I can't really blame a white jury for being clueless as to the criminal nature of Zimmerman's actions.
    But I would like them to reconsider. Do they really think that it was fair to send football star Michael Vic to prison for killing a couple of dogs while Zimmerman was allowed to walk free for killing a human being?
    That's what is outraging so many black Americans–that white America considers their lives less important than a dog!

    July 16, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  21. Unbiased Perspective

    Like it or not, it's not currently, and never will be, illegal or questionable to check out what someone is up to in your neighborhood after break-ins have been a problem no matter what color, size, economic status, or anything else they might be. To say this is a civil rights violation is ridiculous. The criminal justice system didn't fail any of us. The judge and jurors read the laws exactly how they are written and applied them as such. If you have a problem with anything in this case it should be with gun law and the stand your ground acts. Both would be completely understandable to be upset about.

    July 16, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. Seriously

    Ok, The right of someone to defend themselves stops the instant the threat is neutralized. If TM felt threatened, he neutralized GZ in one punch. The instant that TM jumped on top of GZ, pinned him down and commenced beating him is when TM's right to defend himself turned into assault. For everyone who says "his injuries weren't that serious" are ignorant. You don't have to wait until your injuries are serious before you defend yourself with deadly force. Following someone in a public place is not illegal. Confronting someone on the street is not illegal. Pinning someone down and beating them is illegal. If TM had lived, he would have been arrested for assault and battery

    July 16, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. Dave H

    Last time I checked, a petition isn't part of our judicial process. In order for Federal charges to be filed, they would have to have clear evidence of intent based on race. That evidence doesn't exist – period. Not saying it was or was not present, just that there is no way to PROVE it did. Move on, just like we all do every time there is a perceived miscarriage of justice (Casey Anthony, O.J,, etc). It's an imperfect system in an imperfect world, but it's the best we've got.

    July 16, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. LaiMari Bailey

    This is something out of the stoneages and it still continues, when is it going to stop God made us all it sure would be a boring world if everyone looked the same, forget about color it is about the content of characer. I am 58 years old and i am so sick of racism that old down south crap.

    July 16, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  25. Harlon Katz

    Wow, over one million people have proved how stupid they may be for not understanding how the courts work, how the law works, or the evidence presented.

    First, Zimmerman did not "stalk" Martin – look up the term and try and understand what it means. These people of questionable intelligence have to quite repeating what they read on MSNBC. Zimmerman had EVERY right to be on that same sidewalk and even the right to ASK Martin what he was doing there. Martin had the right to be offended, the right to tell Zimmerman to pound sand, etc – he did NOT have the right to assault Zimmerman.

    Also, what about Zimmerman's right to LIFE? He was the one being attacked before he finally shot Martin. Just a bunch of racist fools wanting to lynch Zimmerman because they don't want to admit / believe that Martin acted like a thug.

    July 16, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
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