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Public Statements

Reverend Al Sharpton and Trayvon Martni

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. AL GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to all who are within the sound of my voice or may be viewing what is said that I am exceedingly grateful and I thank God for Reverend Al Sharpton.

Reverend Sharpton has been involved in the Trayvon Martin circumstance for some time now. That is not unusual. What may be considered unusual is that he is involved at a time when he has lost his mother, and he is acting under some courageous circumstances that require courage, I might say, under these circumstances. I admire what he does, but I especially admire the fact that he is doing it under these circumstances, and today he is funeralizing his mother.

So to Reverend Al Sharpton, I want to express my gratitude; and I would like to just take a very short brief moment of silence and express my sympathies silently to Reverend Sharpton and his family.

Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all of my colleagues who have supported what the Justice Department is doing. It is exceedingly important that people understand that this is a bipartisan effort across the length and breadth of this country. This transcends the lines that can divide us. This is not about being a conservative. It's not about being a liberal. It's about justice for Trayvon Martin. I believe that people of goodwill come in all stripes, they are affiliated with all parties, and people of goodwill want to see justice done.

My colleague before me expressed that it has been 31 days and there has not been an arrest. We are now hearing more about what may have happened. I say ``may have happened'' because we have not had an eyewitness to come forward and give statements. It's important to note that what we're hearing is not coming by way of eyewitness testimony. Someone has had someone say something that they are repeating.

My hope is that there will be a thorough investigation. There should be an investigation. My hope is that we will have the opportunity to produce evidence by and through the constabulary to show what actually happened to the extent that the standard that is commonly used to make an arrest is applied to this case. That standard is probable cause. It is not guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, not clear and convincing evidence, but, rather, probable cause. It is whether there is probable cause to make an arrest.

We have many laws that are coming into play, and I want to thank Chairman John Conyers. I call him chairman. He is now the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. I want to thank him because he is taking the lead today on a forum that will take place. In fact, he's making it possible for us to have this forum today. At this forum today, there will be some clarity brought to how the Federal Government is involved in these kinds of circumstances.

In '09, there was a hate crimes law that was passed. There will be some considerable talk about this hate crimes law that was passed. Federal jurisdiction has been expanded under the '09 law, pursuant to the 14th Amendment and the equal protection provided thereunder. There will be talk about how the Justice Department has a role in these processes from time to time. There will be talk about how financial support can be accorded the local constabulary under certain circumstances. There will be talk about how Federal charges can be promulgated and enforced under certain circumstances. So I will be honored to have an opportunity to be at this forum today so that we can talk more about the Federal role.

In the final analysis, here's what we're dealing with. We're dealing with a circumstance wherein there are at least two people who deserve a fair trial. Trayvon Martin is one of the two people, at least, who deserves a fair trial. He deserves a fair hearing on what happened that day. He cannot speak for himself, but there is evidence that speaks volumes about what happened on this occasion. That evidence has to be considered such that some impartial body can make a determination as to whether or not there should be an arrest.

If there is an arrest--and I believe that the evidence exists such that there is probable cause--if there is an arrest, then there can be a trial and then there can be the transparency that the United States of America produces whenever we have trials, because there will be an opportunity for all sides to present their evidence in a court of law before a jury if a jury is desired. This is the way we do things in the United States of America.

Regardless of his color, he deserves a fair trial. Regardless of what he had on, he deserves a fair trial. And to those who say that hoodies make you a criminal, I say: Be careful, because you're getting dangerously close to saying women can cause themselves to become victims. You're dangerously close, so be careful.


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