Parents of Martin to attend Capitol Hill event
WASHINGTON THE parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin are due to attend a US congressional forum in Washington on Tuesday that will look at racial profiling and hate crimes, Democrats organising the event said.
The parents of the 17- year-old shot on February 26 by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer in a suburb of Orlando, Florida, are not expected to testify. But their attorney will speak, along with representatives of civil rights groups and the US Justice Department.
Tuesday’s event underscores how the racially charged case has become increasingly politicised in an election year. President Barack Obama weighed in last week in highly personal terms, saying that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, a comment widely interpreted as implicit recognition of the case’s racial overtones.
The shooting has sparked protests throughout the country and demands from civil rights activists and others for Zimmerman’s arrest. Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, says he acted in self-defence.
The hearing by Democratic members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will focus on racial profiling and hate crimes as well as state “stand your ground” laws that have broadened the definition of self defence to give people immunity if they use deadly force when they feel threatened.
Zimmerman told police that Martin had attacked him before he fired his gun, according to police.
The Justice Department has launched an investigation.