Black Caucus preparing legislation to address racial profiling

July 17, 2013 at 10:16 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- Congressional Black Caucus members are preparing racial-profiling legislation in response to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black Florida teen, aides say.

CBC lawmakers are drafting proposals meant to curb racial profiling; end state stand-your-ground laws and promote better training for the nation's neighborhood watch volunteers, among other anti-violence measures, The Hill reported.

George Zimmerman, a Hispanic-American neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted Saturday of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in last year's fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, who was unarmed.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., an icon of the civil rights era, said the acquittal "seems to justify the stalking and killing of innocent black boys and deny them any avenue of self-defense."

CBC leader Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, denounced what she said was "the presumption of guilt so often associated with people of color."

A member of the all-female, six-person jury interviewed by CNN said the panel did not believe Zimmerman was motivated by race when he followed Martin, who was on his way to his father's house from a convenience store. When Zimmerman called 911, he was told not to approach Zimmerman.

CBC members said they believed that race was a motivating factor, The Hill said.

"George Zimmerman targeted Trayvon Martin as a potential criminal because Trayvon Martin is black," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said on MSNBC Monday.

"Anyone who denies that racism isn't alive today, particularly in the so-called justice system, is exceedingly delusional," said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and a CBC member, is leading the effort. For years he has pushed legislation to curtail racial profiling in the nation's law enforcement agencies.

While Zimmerman did not use Florida's stand your ground law in his defense, the law received a lot of media coverage, in part because it was cited by police as the reason why they didn't initially arrest Zimmerman in Martin's death.

Singer Stevie Wonder said he will boycott states with stand your ground laws, which allow people to use force in self-defense when they have a reasonable belief of an unlawful threat without retreating first.

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