The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI announced late Monday they have opened an investigation into the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
"The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation," the Justice Department said in a statement.
This comes on the heels of growing public outage in the wake of the case. Earlier today, the Congressional Black Caucus called on the Justice Department to investigate Trayvon's murder. The unarmed African-American teenager was killed in a gated community in Florida late last month.
Much of the focus now has been on the police in their decision not to press charges against the young man’s killer, George Zimmerman. Right now, he seems to be protected under Florida's “Stand Your Ground” law. In 2005, Florida was the first state to enact a law pushed by the National Rifle Association using the concept of standing your ground in self-defense.
Right before the deadly incident, Zimmerman placed a call to officials during a routine patrol regarding the “real suspicious” Martin, as the latter was returning from a snack trip to a local 7-Eleven. Despite warnings from the dispatcher not to follow the young man, Zimmerman left his vehicle and, according to other callers to 911 in the neighborhood, engaged in a wrestling match with Martin. A gun shot was heard, and Martin was later found dead on the scene. Zimmerman told police he acted in self-defense, and he has yet to be charged with a crime.
MSNBC’s Reverend Al Sharpton, during Monday evening’s edition of PoliticsNation, spoke with Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon. In response to Tracy Martin’s calls for justice, Sharpton lashed out at local officials saying, “I can’t for the life of me understand how they can justify not making an arrest! Arrest does not mean conviction, but there is probable cause here even with this law that we would question. This is a national outrage to many of us.” Reverend Sharpton assured Mr. Martin that he would not have to face this issue alone, and, indeed, it seems as if he will not have a lack of support in the near future.
As the facts and context of the case emerge, numerous public figures have spoken out about the perceived mishandling of both Zimmerman and the murder by the Sanford police department. Figures such as Russell Simmons, John Legend and New York Times writer Charles Blow are just some of the many that have called for greater attention on the case and, consequently, how U.S. citizens should remember and understand it.