WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder, a longtime target of Republicans who have tried to force him out of office, now faces the prospect of angering liberal supporters when the Justice Department decides whether to file federal charges in the Trayvon Martin killing.
Civil rights groups are planning nationwide vigils, and more than a million people support an online petition drive calling for admitted shooter George Zimmerman to face federal charges in the February 2012 killing.
Holder confronted that political pressure Tuesday in a speech to the NAACP, which is conducting the petition drive.
Last weekend the weather in Washington, D.C., was unpredictable. One minute the sun would be shining and the clouds kept at bay, and then suddenly that once-optimistic sky would tip over, pouring out all the rain.
The same can be said of the shifting mood among the more than 50,000 members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. as they marked their organization's centennial in the nation's capital. It was a celebration filled with laughter, pride and happiness that midway through changed in tone, coinciding with the news that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, would walk free. The winds had changed.
On Friday, a day before the verdict was handed down, I hosted a group of my chapter sorors at my home. We excitedly swapped paraphernalia, dug through my closets for any hint of crimson or cream, put on our letters and headed to the Lincoln Memorial for "Deltas on the National Mall."
No one was hurt or killed when 31-year-old Marissa Alexander fired a warning shot into the air in Aug. 1, 2010.
But she remains in a Florida prison after being sentenced July 12, 2012 for a conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
A Florida judge rejected her self-defense assertion. The mother of three children who had no police record was found guilty of firing a shot into a wall as a warning shot to ward off her allegedly abusive husband against whom she had a protective order.
She told police she was in fear for her life, as she had been many times before at the hands of her husband, Rico Gray. Gray had flown into a jealous rage that night after seeing text messages and baby pictures sent by Alexander to an ex-husband.
The friend who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when his fatal confrontation with George Zimmerman began said Monday she is "disappointed, upset, angry, questioning and mad" at Zimmerman's acquittal on murder charges.
Rachel Jeantel called the verdict "BS" and said Martin, 17, was never aggressive.
"He was a calm, chill, loving person who loved his family, definitely his mother, and a good friend," Jeantel told CNN's "Piers Morgan Live."
Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Nelson Mandela as South Africa's president 14 years ago, says the ailing revered statesmen will pull through.
"I know the doctors who are working with him are very good people, very good doctors and I am quite certain, I am quite certain that, one of these days, Madiba will go back home," Mbeki said over the weekend, calling Mandela by his clan name.
Mandela, 94, is considered the founding father of South Africa's modern democracy. He has been hospitalized in Pretoria since June 8 for a recurring lung infection – a legacy of his years of imprisonment under South Africa's now-defunct apartheid regime.
The Department of Justice has confirmed that it is reviewing the State of Florida's case against George Zimmerman, 29, as well as information gathered from their independent investigation to determine if he will face federal civil rights charges for the February 26, 2012 killing of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin.
"Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department's policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial," said Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson.
As previously reported by NewsOne, NAACP President Ben Jealous released a statement making it plain that we are "not done demanding justice for Trayvon Martin":