Petitions get one million signatures for Zimmerman charges
July 16th, 2013
04:48 PM ET
10 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin."
    I've had this conversation with my predominantly white co-workers. They concur with the above statement from our attorney general.
    I've had it this conversation with other Latinos, they generally concur with Mr. Holder.
    We know that a jury has spoken. We also know that sometimes facts get muddled due to improper presentation of evidence, a piss-poor prosecutor or witnesses that don't hold up well under questioning and that leads to juries reaching unbelieveable verdicts as was the case with O.J.....and Trayvon.
    This verdict is a travesty of justice.
    Zimmerman stalked, confronted and, after Trayvon defended himself, shot this kid in the heart. In the heart.

    July 16, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. Beeman

    There never seems to be any outrage on the massive amounts of deaths in these urban areas like Chicago. Hopefully some good will come out of this but I don't see it. I taught a Certified Handgun License class for a few years and talked to an old colleague yesterday and he said he has never been busier with classes. Taking a human life is the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone and the scenarios I taught would have been clear Zimmerman should have not followed. On the other hand if attacked and no other choices remain that is going to happen.

    July 16, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The President has already spoken and asked everyone to honor the memory of Trayvon and his family by remaining calm
    Now we, over a million Americans, are speaking and asking for justice for Trayvon and his family.
    Before you start blabbing blubber about the NAACP please recognize that folks of all colors and walks of life are marching and signing petitions seeking justice for the memory of this Black kid.

    July 16, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. PJ

    There have been a lot of comments since Saturday night. Some hateful, some analytical, and some consumed
    with "what's going on in Chicago" rather than face the fact that a child was, once again, murdered.
    Those who say "Get Over It" are cold hearted.
    Those who say "poor George" obviously heard none of the testimony,
    and, those who say Zimmerman should be held accountable are the ones I agree with.
    But, very few have expressed compassion, sympathy, or any understanding of the pain that will be felt
    for a lifetime by Trayvon Martin's parents, family, and friends.
    I don't have one iota of sympathy for George Zimmerman, and if its true that he is "fearful" for his life,
    I say – good.

    July 16, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. California Gary

    Zimmerman, after making remarks about these " punks" and how these "a..holes" always get away, basically stalked Martin and followed him into the darkness when he lost sight of him. When confronted, a fist fight ensued that Zimmerman was apparently getting the worst of. He decided to pull his firearm and end the fight with deadly force. He violated Martin's civil rights by stalking him and then ending his life without just cause. His injuries were not serious, certainly not life threatening, and were not justification for ending the life of a young man who was just walking home from the store. The criminal justice system failed in this instance.......hopefully this can be made right either through a federal civil rights charge or through a civil law suit. So far the system has failed the Martin family......let's make it right.

    July 16, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. manny

    And the shows go on with the media adding more fire. We already had the female version of Java the Hut trying to put a couple of words together, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, the NAACP, you name it. They seem to forget that there is a judicial system in this country and the jury decided that GZ was innocent, but they want their revenge.

    July 16, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. Name. denise jackins

    Justice will prevail

    July 16, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. JAX FL

    Going through our local newspaper over the last ten days reveals that at least five white people have been murdered by African-Americans. How much chance do you think we have of Eric Holder conducting an investigation of these murders for hate crimes?

    July 16, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. J R Brown

    If the federal government chooses to prosecute someone because of an online petition rather than the facts of law, we will have moved from a nation governed by the rule of law to mob rule.

    Zimmerman did NOT violate anyone's rights by FOLLOWING them while acting as a Neighborhood Watch person. Watching for suspicious activity is the purpose of Neighborhood Watch, ffs.

    July 16, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  10. Ali

    This is not a racial issue. A child was killed which is tragic but getting your head bashed into the concrete is life threatening. If you want to go to facts, blacks make up 13% of the population and commit 50% of the murders in this country. Its sad and horrific but I do not think things would have been any different no matter the race of either party. As a father of five I sympathize and am sorry for the Martins but I cannot see any of my children or friends resorting to attacking an adult.

    July 16, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. smith

    @Dominican Mama- Were you there? Their is no evidence to back up what you claim. NONE. That is why he was found not guilty.

    July 16, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  12. smith

    @Pj-Trayvon Martin was not a child. Follow President Obama and accept the verdict. Your in a sad case of denial

    July 16, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  13. Kendo

    So what they're saying is, there are 329 million Americans that didn't sign a petition wanting charges.

    July 16, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  14. Data Driven

    Amen to all that, PJ.

    All that being said, however, I think a civil rights case would lose here. My opinion for a strategy? Elect more liberals in the statehouses across the country, liberals committed to changing existing dangerous gun permissiveness. We can win if we just VOTE in 2014. Republicans are running wild in state capitals like rats in landfills. Time to change that.

    July 16, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. LKT

    There is only one part of the Civil Rights laws that could apply to GZ, a hate crime. The statutes that convicted police officers in the Rodney King beating only apply to law enforcement and a "hate crime" is very hard to prove. Especially hard to prove when there's already a verdict in FL saying he showed no " ill will or malice." The federal civil rights charges are a long shot at best and would probably result in another acquittal.

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

    Eric Holder should be charged with racism/inciting riots–adding fuel to fire of violence– for his racist rhetoric against Zimmerman/court. Why is this man still in office?

    July 16, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    Is the Daily Show the only news source that gets it?
    The murderer of Trayvon Martin gets away with, what else, murder. The jury took two days and then some to find him not guilty of killing an unarmed teenager.
    There's another less known case in Florida. A woman fired a gun into the air to keep her abusive husband from hurting her. The judge (name wasnt zimmerman, was it?) ruled that she had no case to fire the gun into the air and it took the jury 12 minutes to convict her to 20 years in prison.
    Without getting to deep in firing gun in the air vs stalking and murdering somebody the woman was black!!!!
    I am utterly ashamed of my home state and any plans that we might have had of retiring down there are not even in the back burner. I wouldn't go back to give them tourist money much less live in a state that is so wrong about everything! This starts in earnest in November of 2000 and continues to this day.

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

    There is no evidence that George Zimmerman followed Treyvon nor that he stalked him.

    July 16, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. Karen Rauscher

    I'm appalled with the same ol. same ol with the constant disrespect and if nothing else their indifference about and to African~Americans not having the same justice that Caucasians do. From the police all the way through life. We, as a country need to move forward NOT backwards here. PLEASE at least have a real trial for Trayvon Martin so we can ALL move forward and feel proud of what this beautiful country should and can be.

    July 16, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. Thomas A. Hawk

    Instead of "taking another look" those people who want the charges filed should produce an actual legal theory (not a political theory) supporting the charges.

    That the state verdict was "appalling" is not a legal argument. It's a political argument.

    That they have over a million signatures is a political statement and most certainly is not a legal argument.

    The DOJ needs an actual legal argument before they can get past the grand jury and pre-trial motions. Otherwise this is pointless.

    July 16, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  21. ZombieTech

    *Scratches head* It blows my mind how it seems the judicial system and even the press seem to be blatantly ignoring specific facts. They keep saying "race wasn't an issue" and "there's a *burden of proof* to prove racial profiling".

    After the incident it was played dozens of times, Zimmerman, his old buddy Chaffey (or whatever that guy's name is), and I think even Zimmerman's brother went on and on about how, "there were several break ins in the neighborhood all done by unidentified African-Americans". The in the interview after the incident the police told Zimmerman when he claimed that, "we arrested somebody two weeks ago in connection to the burglaries, that's a done deal".

    Then along comes Trayvon Martin... again with Zimmerman's mindset and in his own words, "several robberies have been committed by African-Americans"... sizes up Trayvon Martin as an African-American, and some of the first words out of his mouth when he doesn't even know who Trayvon is, has no proof or reason to believe Trayvon was a burglar (as the police stated, they caught the robber)... and yet, what are some of Martin's first words? "[Expletive] punks" and "they always get away". And again, the ONLY two reasonings I've heard for why Trayvon Martin was initially pursued was a) "there were a lot of break ins done by unidentified African-Americans" and "because he was 6'2", wearing a hoodie in the rain, black, and walking along the sidewalk at 7pm".

    It's like the iconic definition of racial-profiling... how can they all act like it's such a far stretch or seem like they have blinders on to the truth... it's right there, no pun intended, but right there in black and white. O_O

    July 16, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  22. Ed

    What's this, Holder "is watching?" Who does he think he is, Pontius Pilate? Apparently he wants to appease the crowd, justice or not.

    July 16, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  23. Babyboomer

    At the very least I hope the Martin family files a wrongful death civil sue against the Sanford Police Dept., the State of Florida and Zimmerman so no one gets to profit from book and/or movie deals. Ultimately, I hope the AJ will bring Federal Hate Crime charges against Zimmerman but if not, civil court will have to do.

    July 16, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  24. mike

    lets start one to leave zimmerman alone will get 10 million votes

    July 16, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  25. BostonBob

    Better check the question and signatures – they might have thought they were going to get a double EBT card for a month.

    July 16, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
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