Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) made the following statement regarding the death of Trayvon Martin, the Department of Justice's investigation into the shooting, and Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law:
"Nearly a month has passed since 17 year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot and we have yet to see justice served. On February 26th, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon, who was walking unarmed near a relative's home in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged in this crime due to his claim of self-defense, which grants him immunity under Florida's misguided 'Stand Your Ground Law,' passed in 2005.
"I have always maintained that with Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law it would only be a matter of time until someone would open fire on an individual innocently walking behind them, just because they look different than them. My greatest fear has become reality with the inexcusable killing of this young man. I said then, and I say it again now, that this law is a license to kill. It is a wholly unconscionable perversion of the notion of self-defense, enabling people to commit outright murder and then throw up their hands afterwards to claim they felt 'threatened.' I would like to know -- and I bet Trayvon's family would like to know, and the people of Sanford would like to know, and indeed the American people would like to know -- how exactly Trayvon was so threatening to have warranted him getting shot in cold blood. We demand answers.
"I am pleased that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is now investigating the case, but it should not have taken almost a month, and it should not have required the media to shine the spotlight on such an egregious offense for the authorities to act. I hope that along with the DOJ's investigation, the dangers of our gun laws that allow all sorts of people to have concealed weapons will finally be addressed so that such a tragedy can never occur again. Florida must abolish the 'Stand Your Ground' law.
"This misguided law does not make our streets safer, rather it turns our streets into a showdown at the OK Corral. But this is not the Wild West. We are supposed to be a civilized society. Let Trayvon's death not be for naught. Let us honor his life by righting this wrong, and seeing that justice is served for Trayvon and his family. George Zimmerman must be prosecuted for his admitted shooting of Trayvon Martin and the 'Stand Your Ground' law must be repealed."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Democratic Chairman of the Florida Delegation.