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Trayvon Martin case: Family goes to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers

The family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin traveled to Washington on Tuesday to meet with lawmakers studying racial profiling.

The parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, and the family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, will meet with some members of the House Judiciary Committee to discuss racial profiling and hate crimes. Crump is expected to speak in the afternoon.

“We’re looking at profiling and hate crimes and the role that the Justice Department can play,” Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) said in an interview on MSNBC.

Martin, 17, was slain on the night of Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, 28, who has told Sanford, Fla., police that he shot the teenager in self-defense. Zimmerman is a neighborhood watch volunteer who called police to report what he said was a suspicious person. The dispatch operator told Zimmerman to stand down while police investigated, according to tapes of the call released by police.

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Martin’s family and supporters have argued that Zimmerman’s failure to stay away led to the confrontation between him and Martin that ended with Zimmerman’s shooting the unarmed Martin at close range.

The Orlando Sentinel has reported that Zimmerman told police that Martin punched Zimmerman in the nose and slammed his head onto the ground before Zimmerman fired. According to the official police report, Zimmerman was bleeding at the scene. Much of Zimmerman’s account has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities told the Sentinel.

The parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, and the family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, will meet with some members of the House Judiciary Committee to discuss racial profiling and hate crimes. Crump is expected to speak at the afternoon session.

The shooting has galvanized the nation, prompting demonstrations across the country and now discussions in Congress.

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On Tuesday, Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) was on the House floor with a sign reading: “Trayvon Martin’s Murderer Still at Large. Days with No Arrest – 31’’ while she spoke about the incident.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), asked about the incident, said: “Our hearts go out to his family over this tragedy. And clearly, what happened is in fact a tragedy. It’s being investigated by state and federal officials, which I think is appropriate. And I think I’ll leave it at that.’’

On the Senate side, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) also took to the floor to discuss the case.

“I think every parent in America should understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this,’’ Cardin said. He called for passage of his legislation, the End Racial Profiling Act, which he said would prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement officials and prohibit state and local law enforcement officials from using race as a factor in criminal investigations.

Meanwhile, it was widely reportedly that Trayvon Martin’s mother had filed trademark applications for two slogans containing her son’s name: “Justice for Trayvon” and “I Am Trayvon.” Both slogans have been frequently used during the more than a month of demonstrations.

The trademarks would apply for such products as DVDs and CDs. The attorney who filed the papers told the Associated Press that Fulton wants to protect intellectual property rights for use in projects to help other families in similar situations.

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Simon reported from Washington and Muskal from Los Angeles

Richard.simon@latimes.com
Michael.muskal@latimes.com


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