Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have organized a forum to be held on Capitol Hill on racial profiling and hate crimes. The forum is in response to the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. At 2:00 PM today a news conference will be held with all of the participants. A briefing will then be held at 3:00 PM. The purpose of this forum is to discuss the role of the federal government in dealing with hate crimes and racial profiling.
The Congressional Black Caucus wants all Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee to attend. The forum is open to all, but it is doubtful that any Republican members will show up. According to the Huffington Post Trayvon Martins parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, will be in attendance. They will not be speaking at the forum, but their attorney, Benjamin Crump, will be testifying.
Others scheduled to testify are Daniel Gross (President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence), Rebecca Monroe (acting director of the Community Relations Service at the Justice Department), Ben Jealous (President and CEO of the NAACP), Robert Parker (former director of the Miami-Dade Police Department), Albert E. Dotson, Jr. (Chairman of 100 Black Men of America Inc), and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Congressional Black Caucus Chairman).
The forum comes as the incident does not appear to be going away. Hundred turned out for a candle light vigil for Trayvon Martin in Pensacola, Florida on Monday. A CNN poll shows that a majority of American believe George Zimmerman should be arrested for shooting the 17 year old. The poll showed that 73% of Americans believe the man should be put on trial for the act. This super majority crosses racial and political lines. As news of Zimmermans minor criminal past have appeared, the outrage has grown.
Zimmerman has claimed self defense in the case, and Floridas Stand Your Ground law makes it legal to kill someone who you feel is threatening your well being. Stand Your Ground was signed into law in 2005 in Florida, with several other states having similar laws. Prior to its signing, when faced with a dangerous situation you were required to attempt to flee before using deadly force. The CNN polling indicated that 55% of Americans still support Stand Your Ground type laws, but support was divided along the gender line. Roughly 64% of males supported the law, while 52% of females opposed it.
The case is getting ugly down in Sanford, Florida where the shooting happened. At a rally attended by Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson, Martins father claims that Florida authorities are attempting to demonize his son and bolster George Zimmermans self defense case. It has been revealed that Trayvon was suspended for school the day he was shot for having trace amounts of marijuana in his backpack. The familys lawyer stated that the suspension was irrelevant to the murder case.