The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF) is deeply disappointed by the Department of Justice’s decision not to bring federal hate-crime charges against George Zimmerman for the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American youth. Mr. Martin was one of several unarmed African-American men whose deaths at the hands of law enforcement and quasi-law enforcement officials has drawn national attention to the false presumption of criminality faced by African Americans, and its often lethal result.
Despite the fact that evidence indicates that race played a pivotal role in both Mr. Zimmerman’s perception of Mr. Martin as a potential threat and the eventual pursuit that culminated in Mr. Martin’s death, the Justice Department concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the federal criminal statutes prohibiting the use of force by an assailant because of a victim’s race were violated.
“Justice demands accountability,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. “In order for any American to have faith in the criminal justice system, we must have laws that both prevent these kinds of tragedies and ensure that those responsible for senseless deaths, like those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless others, are held accountable for their actions. We must address and eliminate the biases and stereotypes that led to these killings.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in media attributions as the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund or LDF.