Black leaders speak out on Martin case: Sherrilyn Ifill


Sherrilyn Ifill, President, NAACP LDF

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., (LDF) is deeply troubled by the jury’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Trayvon Martin’s tragic and senseless death was the direct result of Mr. Zimmerman’s false and offensive assumption that Trayvon was a criminal because he was African American. His unnecessary death exposes the entrenched nature of racial prejudice in our country and reflects the unfinished struggle to fulfill this country’s promise of racial equality and justice for all.

LDF will therefore ask United States Attorney General Eric Holder to undertake a comprehensive federal review of Mr. Zimmerman’s conduct. LDF also expects and encourages Trayvon Martin’s family to pursue any and all civil legal action that is available to them. Regardless of the outcome of these proceedings, LDF hopes that this painful episode will inspire a muchneeded and long-overdue dialogue around race and criminal justice in America.

All Americans must peacefully mobilize and demand protection for our children. We must remember that it was the collective action of individuals and communities nationwide that spurred the arrest of George Zimmerman. Without the vigilance and vocal demands of people throughout this country, Mr. Zimmerman would never have been arrested or prosecuted. Now we must use that same power to continue our fight against racial profiling, and to demand that the lives of our children are honored and valued in society and our criminal justice system.

By continuing to commit ourselves to this work, regardless of the outcome of any single criminal trial, we pay tribute to Trayvon’s life and guarantee that he – and the countless others like him – have not died in vain. These efforts, along with sustained community organizing, civic engagement, public education, activism, and advocacy are at the heart of the struggle against this country’s legacy of racism. Fighting together, we will one day achieve the moral and constitutional imperative of racial equality. And when that day comes, children like Trayvon will be treated as the teenagers that they are, regardless of their race, with the unfettered hopes and dreams to which all Americans are entitled.