Federal Civil Rights Case Might Be Tough

[Content Note: Racism; violence.]

So say anonymous Justice Department officials, even as US Attorney General Eric Holder promises to continue the investigation:
Current and former Justice Department officials said Monday that bringing civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old in Florida, would be extremely difficult and may not be possible.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. vowed to continue a federal investigation of the matter, but other officials said in interviews that the government may not be able to charge Zimmerman with a federal hate crime because it's not clear that he killed Martin because of his race.

..."The Department of Justice couldn't bring this case unless they believe they could prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin because of his race," said Rachel Harmon, a law professor at the University of Virginia and a former prosecutor in the Justice Department's civil rights division.

"It's not enough to show that Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin because of his race," Harmon added. "They would have to show that he attacked Martin for that reason. ...Proving that motive is why it's hard to bring hate crime charges in general and why it is likely to be hard to bring them in this case."

Privately, several Justice Department officials agreed that such charges would be difficult to bring for several reasons, including the difficulty in proving motive and the challenge posed by Zimmerman's acquittal in state court.
An acquittal that itself was based on jurors' belief that Trayvon Martin's race was irrelevant to George Zimmerman's actions. In her interview with Anderson Cooper last night, Juror B37 reported that the jury did not believe "race played a role" in the case:
COOPER: So you don't believe race played a role in this case?

JUROR: I don't think it did. I think if there was another person, Spanish, white, Asian, if they came in the same situation where Trayvon was, I think George would have reacted the exact same way.

COOPER: Why do you think George Zimmerman found Trayvon Martin suspicious then?

JUROR: Because he was cutting through the back, it was raining. He said he was looking in houses as he was walking down the road. Kind of just not having a purpose to where he was going. He was stopping and starting. But I mean, that's George's rendition of it, but I think the situation where Trayvon got into him being late at night, dark at night, raining, and anybody would think anybody walking down the road stopping and turning and looking, if that's exactly what happened, is suspicious. And George said that he didn't recognize who he was.

COOPER: Well, was that a common belief on the jury that race was not — that race did not play a role in this?

JUROR: I think all of us thought that race did not play a role.
So, to recap: George Zimmerman stalks and then kills Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is thus left the only person alive to share his version of the shooting, and he says he did not pursue Martin because of his race. And a bunch of white people take his fucking word for it and give him his gun back and acquit him of any crime because they believe he had a right to stand his ground and do not believe that Martin had a right to stand his. And now it's just that much harder for the Justice Department to prove racial motivation.

Because a bunch of racists colluded to abet a racist who engaged in eliminationist violence and defend it with the bullshit fantasy that George Zimmerman would have done the same thing "if there was another person, Spanish, white, Asian."

And let's be frank here: If the white jurors actually believed that shit, they wouldn't have let him go. Because if they actually believed Zimmerman would shoot any fucking person he thought looked suspicious, they wouldn't feel safe themselves with his gun-toting ass on the street.

They know damn well why he targeted, pursued, and killed Trayvon Martin. And I know damn well, too.

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