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. Loretta

    When are we going to realize racism is alive and well! Look at the number of young African American males that are in prison. Look at the number of African American that are educated, but unemployed. Look at the number of African Americans working, but are still below the poverty line. Look at the number of African Americans who are not able to be home owners, Look at the number of African Americans who are dying from health issues because the lack of preventative health care. Look at the number of African Americans who are denied due process. Look and you can see. If you close your eyes and you can denied that racism is not

    Can you be honest with yourself and say if T Martin was a white young man walking that evening, he would be dead today?

    I asked my 19 old son "what do you think about the verdict" he said are you surprised, that happens all the time. Then he referenced a young African American boy who was shot in his back by the police and nothing happen to the police officer. And he went on to site a few other incidents. What a sad America we are living in.

    July 16, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. Anthony in California

    If Zimmerman were black and Trayvon were white, would the verdict be any different? If the answer is yes, then justice has NOT been served.

    Also.. why wasnt Trayvon granted the right to "stand his ground" against a man in a car who was following him on his way home from buying snacks?

    Do I have to teach my son to actually beat a stalker to a coma to stay alive(and face a jury of 6), versus letting the creep take his life w a gun(and get carried to the grave by 12?)?

    Just like O.J. I hope the Martin family finds a way to sue the living day lights out of the Zimmerman family for grievances.

    July 16, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. Doctor Fine

    What a bunch of racist garbage. All the black people in these comments are sick-os and it proves how racist and anti-law abiding all these creeps really are. According to them it is illegal for a law abiding neighborhood watch commander to be alive after an attack by a black man. How criminal! I only hope their neighborhoods continue to be crime infested and their lives continue to be ruined by criminal attack. George Zimmerman was PROVEN to be not guilty. But that is NOT enough by these racist black un-American fools. I am so sorry I fought for civil rights. I am so sorry I voted for Obama. I now have found out all my racist fore father were correct. Blacks are sub-intelligent trouble makers. This is all so sad. I used to have brothers that were of the Black race. I will never consider them brothers again as they are all marching lock step with the anit-white racists that are on here...

    July 16, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. American Idol Justice

    Absolutely amazing! Jury finds the man not guilty and now it is a miscarriage of justice. You american idol wannabe's want to have your vote to decide whether GZ is innocent or guilty. So now American Justice is a popularity contest. Wow, says a lot about common sense – there isn't any this site!

    July 16, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. Steve Krause

    What a waste of tax payer money and time. ANYONE who watched that trial knows it was self defense. QUIT wasting our money!

    July 16, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  6. Scott

    Marin could have walked way , he did not have to turn and confront Zimmerman, He certainly should not have beat Zimmerman and pound his head into the side walk. Zimmerman was justified, the jury saw it that way. Now all these cry babies want to bring him up on Federal Charges, Well guess what, the only racists words spoken at the trial was Martin's girlfriend saying that Martin, ask why is this white ass Cracker following me. Sounds to me like the racist was Martin.

    July 16, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  7. BillyBob Smythe

    That goodness that we have a system of laws that is not determined by petition

    July 16, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  8. tom l

    "Zimmerman stalked, confronted"

    Yes, this is a tragedy. There are many, many more tragedies like this every day.

    However, and with all due respect, you don't know that Zimmerman "confronted" Martin. You honestly just don't know that. You weren't there, you have no idea whether that happened or not. Neither do I. I have no idea what happened and who confronted who, either. I'm not saying that what you said is correct or incorrect. I'm saying that neither you nor I know exactly what happened. We weren't there. To make such an assertion demonstrates that you are being lead by emotion rather than reason. The truth is there are several scenarios that could have happened. Several. The one you stated is possible but certainly wouldn't fall into the category of probable.

    July 16, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Philly!ike

    It's amazing that when a 12 year old white New Jersey girl was strangled to death for her bike by two black teenagers, there was hardly even a mention of the incident, let alone racism. However now that the circumstances are reversed. It's suddenly the most horrible thing that could have happen. I am not in agreement with what Zimmerman did but I am bringing up these circumstances to make a point. It seems like the black community is much more racist than the white community. I really hope there will come a day where we will all stand together as Americans not as people with different ethnic backgrounds. Until that day comes, a divided America is an America that is not fulfilling its full potential.

    July 16, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |

    Do what you think is right.

    July 16, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  11. Geebe

    Please... using this matter as a platform for race issues in our country at the expense of GZ is patently unfair. GZ made some errors in judgement but if there had been a hint of racism in his past he would have been demolished during trial. It didn't come up because it wasn't "the" issue. Was he in fear of his life or not when he pulled the trigger. The evidence supports that he was and the jury agreed. I've been racially profiiled on several occasions but I didn't do a ground and pound on the culprit to vent my rage. There's no evidence to prove that the shooting was motivated by hate or racial prejudice. It happend because one person put another in fear of his life and I have to believe that TM had a role there as well. A role that most seem to conveniently ignore.

    July 16, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  12. Noel S. Morgan

    I think it is only right for the Justice Department to conduct a thorough investigation, to enable them to know whether George Zimmerman is guilty of violating Trayvon Martin Civil rights to bring about a wrong full death suite against him

    July 16, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  13. benny hill

    OK...........Where can we sign a petition that says George Zimmerman is innocent of all civil rights charges???

    July 16, 2013 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  14. rs

    I am thinking that the signatures simply don't matter at this point. Yes, that's a lot of people expressing doubt about Florida "justice"- appropriately so. However, the court and the jury have spoken, and while a federal civil rights case is tempting, proving racial-based intent is not a slam dunk.
    No, Mr. Martin's legacy should be the end of :Stand your Ground" laws.There is a direct line from these violence inducing laws, and Mr. Martin's death.

    July 16, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. Ross

    I made a contribution to the George Zimmerman defense fund. It is a proud day to be an American!

    July 16, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. Ross

    It's not Zimmerman's fault that Martin was black.

    July 16, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  17. Patrick in Minnesota

    Zimmerman will pay for what he's done, in this world or the next.

    July 16, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  18. ALyssa

    What does it matter how many people sign a petition? Half the country could sign and it wouldn't make a difference. You can't charge someone with a crime when there is no evidence to support that a crime took place. Florida just tried that with Zimmerman and we saw the results. If you are angry about racism in this country – please do something constructive about it – sign petitions against the KKK or the Black Panthers. Get together with your neighbors and churches and show that you won't tolerate racism (including the extraordinarily uneven strain of violence against whites by blacks) and show that you will stand up for equality for all. But this isn't the case to do it with. The media should have dropped this one from the get-go because it's a non-starter. All we've done is inflame people's passions over a case that can never go anywhere. Zimmerman is never going to be found guilty of anything; in a criminal or civil court; because he's not guilty!

    July 16, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  19. John Wright

    It would be tragic and very divisive to try Mr. Zimmerman on civil rights charges. Any sane white person knows that race was not a motivating factor and self defense it was! Stop the racist nonsense and start bringing people together!

    July 16, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  20. forpeace99

    While the jury has spoken, one wonders what kind of laws the state of Florida has. Zimmerman instigates trouble, and then shoots an innocent minor and walks away free. Does this incident not set a precedence to other Zimmerman wannabe's? There will be others who will do the same thing. Sad... very very sad. This is not about race, it is about flawed laws and exploitation of them individuals like Zimmerman and his attorneys.

    July 16, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  21. Catmandew

    How many of the people posting here were in the courtroom and had access to all the evidence and testimony? Everyone posting is making a decision based on media slanted info. I believe our constitution says a person can only be tried once in court. The jury rendered their verdict and that should stand. I believe if the outcome had gone the other way and Trayvon had killed Zimmerman everyone on here would have said Zimmerman had it coming to him. Y'all are a bunch of hypocrites trying to say your side should've won and looking right past the problem in the process.

    July 16, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  22. army vet

    how can zimmerman be guilty of profiling blacks when his grandfather was black and his mother was hispanic? he didnt just volunteer his time in the neiborhood watch but he also was mentoring young black kids. he was doing his job and called 911 and probably followed him so he would not get away and travon probably assumed something else and attacked him. a tragic situation, but not racism.

    July 16, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  23. Catmandew

    Ya do know stalking isn't following someone one time? And why didn't Martin just turn around and ask Zimmrrman why he was following him instead of doubling back and sucker punching him? He went back to kick his butt and violence was met with violence and he payed for it. Has no one ever told any of you there is always someone that's faster on the draw. I believe the jury has spoken, the trial is over. It would be wrong to try and file other charges. That would catering to many uninformed people and if the next trial came back not guilty what do it again till those folks are happy? Doesn't sound like America to me!

    July 16, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  24. Jason

    Zimmerman was a register Democrat. Now they dislike him and have turn on a spanish man still the same party that started slavery. There was never a Party Switch.

    July 17, 2013 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  25. Al Sharpton

    Please don't let this die down ! Uh...da people are giving me 50-dollar bills !

    July 17, 2013 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
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