The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) , an organization representing 34,000 Black churches, is staging a rally July 15 at noon in front of the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. to protest the verdict in the murder trial of George Zimmerman.
The NBCI, which has been among the leading advocates for justice in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., is calling for the demonstration to buttress demands for the Justice Department to launch a prosecution under federal civil rights laws of George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty July 13 by a Florida Circuit Court jury of second degree murder and manslaughter charges in the 2011 shooting death of Martin.
Zimmerman, who told police he shot Martin in self-defense during a scuffle in a gated community Feb. 26, 2012, after the 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer confronted the unarmed teenager who was returning from a snack run to the townhouse occupied by his father.
The call for Justice Department action came minutes after the six-member, all-female jury delivered the not guilty verdict. The NAACP, which is holding its annual convention in Orlando, Fla., said it is seeking “to open a civil rights case against George Zimmerman.”
In a Twitter posting within minutes of the verdict, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization said, “The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida’s prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act.”
The statement is posted on a petition posted on MoveOn.org in which NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous is seeking support for a Justice prosecution.
Jealous and other civil rights leaders have spoken with senior members of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s team at the Justice Department about pursuing federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, Jealous said on several Sunday news talk shows. Holder has said that a hate crime prosecution would have to clear a high bar for establishing a hate crime.