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Monday, July 15, 2013

  • "I Felt Like It Was My Son": Thousands Protest George Zimmerman Acquittal in Trayvon Martin Killing

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    Protests were held across the country this weekend after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, shot Martin the night of February 26, 2012, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, as the unarmed African-American teen walked back to his father’s house after buying candy at a nearby store. A police report filed that night noted there was "no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter." We air voices of the protesters who marched in New York City, where thousands gathered in Union Square and then marched for hours, through Times Square and up into Harlem.

  • "There is a Trayvon in Every Town": Rev. Jesse Jackson and Florida Youth Activist Demand Justice

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    Civil rights groups are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman after he was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. A petition launched by the NAACP gathered more than 225,000 signatures in the first few hours after Zimmerman was acquitted, temporarily causing the group’s website to crash. The Justice Department responded Sunday that it is continuing to evaluate evidence from an ongoing federal probe, as well as evidence from the state trial. We speak to the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Phillip Agnew, executive director of Dream Defenders, a coalition of young people of color in Florida formed after Martin’s death. They have called for a "Takeover Tuesday" protest in Florida’s capital of Tallahassee on July 16. "I think we need to look at the environment that created a situation that grew a George Zimmerman and snuffed out a Trayvon Martin," Agnew says. "The fact is, our society programs people to be afraid of young people — young people of color specifically."

  • After Aiding Zimmerman’s Case, ALEC-Backed "Stand Your Ground" Could Threaten a Civil Lawsuit

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    The secretive right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has used its network of money and influence to push for more pro-gun state laws like Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, which initially helped shield George Zimmerman from prosecution for the Trayvon Martin killing and was later used in the jury instructions at his trial. We discuss ALEC and the "Stand Your Ground" laws with Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, and publisher of PRWatch.org and ALECExposed.org. She formerly served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration’s Department of Justice, where she handled national gun policy. "Even though it’s popular wisdom to say 'Stand Your Ground' was not an issue in this case, in fact it was," Graves says. "The exact instruction to the jury was that Zimmerman had no duty to retreat and had a right to stand his ground and meet force with force — including deadly force. Those jury instructions incorporate the Stand Your Ground law." Graves adds that the Stand Your Ground law could now threaten efforts by Martin’s family to pursue a civil lawsuit against Zimmerman: "[The law] says the family of a shooting victim must pay the shooter’s legal fees and lost wages if the judge in a civil case grants that George Zimmerman had immunity because he had a right to stand his ground and that he was in essence justified in the killing. Basically the NRA and ALEC put their thumb on the scale of justice in favor of the shooter."

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