Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared at the Washington Convention Center for a luncheon hosted by an African-American sorority. Holder told the crowd “I share your concern” with regard to the “unnecessary shooting death” of Trayvon Martin.
Holder also reminded the crowd that the Department of Justice had opened an investigation into possible civil rights violations last year. Since the acquittal of Zimmerman, the NAACP has urged DOJ to pursue a civil rights probe in the case.
In addition, the Washington Post reports that Holder told the audience “We are resolved, as you are, to combat violence involving or directed at
young people, to prevent future tragedies and to deal with the
underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs and stereotypes that serve as the
basis for these too common incidents. And we will never stop working to
ensure that — in every case, in every circumstance, and in every
community — justice must be done.”
Last year the FBI interviewed roughly 30 individuals who had contact with Zimmerman. Interviewees were specifically asked whether Zimmerman “displayed any bias, prejudice or irrational attitude against any class of citizen, religious, racial, gender or ethnic groups.” None of the 30 said he had at any time prior to the incident.
Zimmerman’s family says that he helped pass out flyers at a black church to raise awareness of an incident when a “white police lieutenant’s son” punched a black homeless man on video but was not arrested.
However these stories did not received nearly the amount of attention prior to the trial as other speculation. Major media outlets repeatedly aired allegations that Zimmerman had used a racial slur in his non-emergency call to police. Last March, CNN’s Anderson Cooper show enhanced the audio and claimed Zimmerman seemed to be saying a derogatory racial slur under his breath. A couple weeks later CNN retracted that claim. By the time of the trial, both defense attorneys and those for the prosecution agreed Zimmerman had said “f–king punks.”
NBC news also added to the racial firestorm by editing Zimmerman’s non-emergency call to make it sound as if Zimmerman had profiled Martin because he was black. NBC eventually fired two producers involved in the edits. Zimmerman has sued NBC over their actions.