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Public Statements

Justice for Trayvon Martin

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. BROWN of Florida. Before I begin, let me just mention that today, visiting us in the Capitol, is the former mayor of Jacksonville, Mr. Peyton, and I want to welcome him to his Capitol.

I want to thank the gentlewoman from Miami for her comments and, really, all of our colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

This is a very tough time for us, being the Representative from Sanford, Florida.

I want to commend, first of all, the mayor, Mayor Triplett, and the county commissioner, Ms. Williams, and the city manager. We met Friday for over 5 hours, discussing what we could do to bring some kind of clarity to this situation.

This is a tragic situation. In having met with the family, met with the mother, it was very, very difficult to talk with the mother and father and know that I truly feel that justice has not taken place.

In the society that we live in, it's very important that we have to feel that the criminal justice system is fair and is fair to all parties. I cannot stand before you today and say that I feel that the system has operated fairly.

One of the first things I asked to happen is that there be an arrest. Well, we don't have an arrest. It's 25 days.

The second thing I asked is that we release the tapes, and we have released the 911 tapes. I've got to tell you, it has taken on a life of its own, because the things that were told to me in the meeting are not the things that were reflected in the tapes.

So you have the media looking into it, and I call them the fourth branch of the government. They can verify what's on the tapes. They can verify whether or not you would take someone's comment as to what they said happened when this young man is not there to tell his side of the story.

We have a person that everyone talks about was over the Neighborhood Watch. I want to point out, self-appointed over the Neighborhood Watch--self-appointed. That means, was not trained.

Clearly, if you listen to the tapes, the police dispatcher told him to stand down. Less than 5 minutes later, this young man was dead. He was just walking at the time. He was a black African American that on the tape said looked suspicious. It was raining, and you're looking suspicious in a neighborhood when just walking on the sidewalk.

He started following him, and the dispatcher said clearly, more than once: We need you not to follow this young man. We are on the way. We will handle it.

Less than 5 minutes later, this young man is dead.

This is not acceptable in this society. I have asked that the Justice Department--and I want to thank all of the tri-caucuses for weighing in on the importance of having an independent investigation, and that's the Justice Department. They've committed that there will be no stones unturned and that they will look into what has happened as far as the violation of his civil rights, whether it's a hate crime. But, in addition, we want to make sure that we have an independent review of how the police force has handled this situation.

I have some grave concerns when I discuss some of the things that have happened. For example, he was drug tested. He was tested. He had alcohol in his system. Yet, the person that did the shooting was not tested in any manner--no drug tests, no alcohol tests, no lie detector tests. It is just his word that he felt threatened. So, therefore, he shot to kill. That's unacceptable.

We are a better society than that, and we are going to work to make sure that this will never happen again. To whom God has given much, much is expected.

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