White House: Obama won't press DOJ on Zimmerman

White House: Obama won't press DOJ on Zimmerman

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

The White House says President Barack Obama won't involve himself in decisions by the Justice Department on whether to pursue civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney says it would be inappropriate for Obama to express an opinion on how the department deals with Zimmerman after the neighborhood watch volunteer's acquittal in the shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old last year.

Carney would not comment on Obama's view of Florida's "stand-your-ground" law, which gives people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the killing of Trayvon Martin was a tragic, unnecessary shooting and provides an opportunity for the nation to speak honestly about complicated and emotionally charged issues.
 
The Justice Department opened an investigation into Martin's death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.  Critics of Saturday's verdict say federal criminal civil rights charges are warranted.

Thirty miles from Sanford and two days after the verdict, the decision in the Zimmerman trial has greatly colored the tone at the NAACP convention at the Orange County Convention Center.

"I think it's made us more determined to actually try to do what we can as far as injustice in that case," said Patricia Carroll, a NAACP member visiting from Virginia.

Dozens of young people organized a town hall meeting on Monday night. Trayvon Martin's parents were scheduled to speak at the event, but declined on Sunday. NAAACP President Ben Jealous briefly addressed the young people.

Holder is expected to address the convention on Tuesday at 3 p.m.  It's a speech many said they can't wait to hear.

"I want to assure you that the Department will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law," said Holder in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, as he addressed members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

The NAACP started a petition on Saturday night.  Organizers posted on their website and Moveon.org., along with providing access on mobile devices.

"We're closing in on one-million signers since the verdict came down on Saturday night," said Eric Wingerter, Vice President for Communications and Digital Media. "The NAACP has never seen a response like this. I think this shows how this has affected communities around the country."

Florida defense attorney Brian Tannebaum told FoxNews.com that the "number one challenge" for the Justice Department is the evidence, or lack thereof. 

"There's been an acquittal. The evidence has not changed. It's not like the feds are going to go in and find more evidence," he said. 

Tannebaum said he understands the Justice Department was responding to intense public sentiment, but "I don't foresee it becoming a federal case."

The question of racial bias is key, because if the Justice Department were to pursue a federal case against Zimmerman, federal hate-crimes law is one of the few tools the department would have. 

The statute itself bars "willfully" causing injury to someone else "because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person." 


Some information taken from wire sources including the Associated Press and FoxNews.com.

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