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Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder

We are writing to express our support of the Department of justice's decision to open an investigation into the devastating killing of Trayvon Martin. There are many unresolved questions about this seemingly unnecessary killing and the events that led up to it and transpired in its aftermath. It is in the best interest of our constituents and the country that you conduct a thorough investigation that also determines whether this was motivated by racial bias and therefore a hate crime.

Reports indicate that on February 26th in Sanford, Florida, Trayvon Martin, a 17 year-old black youth, was walking back to his home from a 7-Eleven convenience store when a neighborhood watch leader on patrol, George Zimmerman, began following him. Zimmerman called 911 to report what he deemed suspicious activity and against the advice of the dispatcher, continued pursue Martin. What happened next is unclear, but several minutes later Trayvon Martin had been fatally wounded.

According to news reports, the Sanford Policy Department decided not test Mr. Zimmerman's blood alcohol level nor conduct a background check. The police department decided not to arrest Mr. Zimmerman after he claimed to have acted in self-defense. However, according to news reports, multiple 911 audio tapes seem to contradict Zimmerman's claim. This incident must be thoroughly investigated to determine what happened and why Mr. Zimmerman was cleared so easily.

Additionally, the question remains whether the shooting was racially motivated, and therefore a hate crime. An investigation of this issue is imperative. The FBI's 2010 Hate Crime Statistics indicate that 6,628 criminal incidents involving 7, 699 offense s were reported in 2010 as a result of bias toward a particular race, region, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or physical or mental disability. Of the 6,624 single bias incidents, 47.3 percent were motivated by a racial bias. The California Office of the Attorney General indicates that in 2010 there were 1,107 hate crime incidents reported statewide. Hate crimes with a race/ethnicity/national origin bias are the most common type of hate crime and since 2011, have accounted for nearly 60 percent of all hate crime incidents in California. History has show that investigation these crimes and enforcing our laws against hem bring the issue to light and help our society progress.

This incident that took place on February 26th did not receive immediate media attention. Instead, local outrage after the incident prompted by social media finally piqued the interest of the national media. It is alarming that so little attention was paid to the death of a teenager.

Again, we thank you for your decision to bring light to the events that led to the killing of an innocent teenager, and we urge you to determine whether this was a hate crime. The family of Treyvon Martin deserves to know the tuth and the American people expect justice to be served.


Karen Bass; Xavier Becerra; Judy Chu; Anna G. Eshoo; Sam Farr; Bob Filner; John Garamendi; Janice Hahn; Mike Honda; Barbara Lee; Zoe Lofgren; Doris Matsui; Jerry McNerney; George Miller; Grace Napolitano; Laura Richardson; Lucille Roybal-Allard; Linda Sanchez; Loretta Sanchez; Jackie Speier; Pete Stark; Mike Thompson; Maxine Waters; Lynn Woolsey.

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