In response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal on charges related to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are preparing to take legislative action.
Lawmakers are drafting proposals designed to address racial profiling, state Stand Your Ground laws, and training for neighborhood watch volunteers, The Hill reports. Despite the heated emotions the Zimmerman trial has stirred, CBC member Rep. James Clyburn said he and his fellow caucus members were seeking to remain “deliberate” in their actions.
“We’re very disappointed in the verdict,” said Clyburn on NewsNation Thursday. “And so we are looking at the verdict as well as other thing surrounding it, and trying to figure out whether or not this whole so-called Stand Your Ground legislation or law can be dealt with in such a way to prevent this kind of the thing from happening. And we hope that we can.”
Stand Your Ground laws, enacted in two dozen states since 2005, have come under particular fire in the wake of the Zimmerman trial, even though the law’s protections were not used in his defense. The legislation allows citizens to use deadly force in self-defense before trying to quell or retreat from a situation they perceive to be threatening.
Zimmerman did not use a “stand your ground” defense. He said he shot Martin in self defense after the teen attacked him, and was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The prosecution did not accuse Zimmerman of racially profiling Martin and the defense says race played no role in the incident.
Clyburn said the entire investigation “got off on the wrong foot from the very beginning” because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
“Rather than arrest Zimmerman, take him downtown for questioning, rather than do something to maintain the crime scene,” said Clyburn, police simply “accepted his word, as if were a Stand Your Ground kind of incident, and saying it would be unconstitutional for him to be arrested. No police officer has any business making constitutional decisions.”
“That’s the kind of stuff we want to take a hard look at,” he said.