WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) – If it finds evidence that a federal criminal civil rights crime has been committed in the death of Trayvon Martin, Attorney General Eric Holder has vowed that the Justice Department will take action.
Holder made the comments in an appearance at the 14th annual convention of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton. One of the department’s top priorities, said Holder, is preventing and combating youth violence and victimization.
The Justice Department launched an investigation of the Martin killing three weeks ago.
“I know that many of you are greatly — and rightly — concerned about the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a young man whose future has been lost to the ages,” said Holder. “If we find evidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action. I also can make you another promise: that at every level of today’s Justice Department — preventing and combating youth violence and victimization is, and will continue to be, a top priority.”
The attorney general says that Justice Department officials including Tom Perez, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, and U.S. Attorney Robert O’Neill from Florida have traveled to Sanford to meet with the Martin family, members of the community and local authorities.
He added that representatives from the department’s Community Relations Service are meeting with civil rights leaders, law enforcement officers and residents to address community tensions.
Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after following the teen in a gated community in Sanford.
He said he was returning to his truck when Martin attacked him and that he shot the unarmed teen during the fight. He wasn’t arrested partly because of Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.
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