COMMENTARY -- Is a George Zimmerman civil rights prosecution in the works? If not, why not?
In the wake of the George Zimmerman "not guilty" verdict, there have been multiple rumors that the Obama administration -- specifically Attorney General Eric Holder -- has drawn up civils rights charges that will soon be filed against Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Al Sharpton has stated what many people believe -- that the acquittal is "is a slap in the face to the American people but it is only the first round in the pursuit of justice."
The family's lawyer has already said that they will pursue a civil case against Zimmerman. Civil cases are weighed by the jury based on the preponderance of evidence and not beyond the shadow of the doubt -- which explains why they can be more successful than criminal prosecutions. A notorious case would be O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of murder charges in criminal court but ordered to pay $33.5 million in civil court.
However, I doubt George Zimmerman has any $33.5 million. And I doubt that money is enough to satisfy the family or supporters.
When an armed man can hunt down an unarmed teenager while on the telephone with a 911 dispatcher, kill the teen, and then walk away free, I think it's fair to assume that there's a serious problem with justice in the jurisdiction where the event took place.
Therefore, it's my humble opinion that federal authorities have little option but to come in from outside the troubled community to file the rumored George Zimmerman civil rights case against the self-appointed neighborhood watchman.
The NAACP has posted a petition demanding that the Obama administration take this step. Their petition addressed to AG Holder reads in part:
"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. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.
Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today."
You can read the whole thing there.
You can also sign it.
I already have.
I have believed from the beginning that something was wrong in Florida, starting with the foot-dragging about bringing the case at all.
The bold attempt to pretend that Trayvon Martin was somehow scary to George Zimmerman because he's alleged to have a picture of a gun and some weed on his cell phone doesn't impress me much either. I was unable to understand any motive for putting out that kind of information other than to make the unarmed teen the bad guy.
With this outrageous acquittal in a case where the defense attorney was sometimes just phoning it in and making knock-knock jokes, I'm left feeling that the fix was in all along.
Sometimes, where local authorities are corrupt, a federal answer is the only higher authority we have.
In my opinion, it's the logical next step for the Department of Justice to step in here to prosecute George Zimmerman on civil rights charges.