A federal investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin can "bring some closure" to questions raised by the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the Florida teen's killing, a Los Angeles City Councilman said today.
"I think there is a lot of speculation from the community as to whether the city [of Sanford] or the state [of Florida] actually did an objective investigation, and there are a lot of issues with the way prosecution" was handled in the Zimmerman trial, according to Councilman Bernard Parks, who said he wants his colleagues to approve a resolution supporting a federal probe into Martin's death.
"I think it's an issue of letting people know that even though we are 3,000 miles away, this incident has affected the city of L.A.," he said.
The verdict in the Zimmerman case sparked protests in Los Angeles that at times grew violent. Police were assigned to rallies in increased numbers following initial protests that got of control, and community leaders organized groups of "peace monitors" tasked with maintaining calm.
Parks was joined at a City Hall news conference by civil rights advocates, including Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who called on the city to become one of the first in the nation to officially support the federal probe.
Hutchinson said a resolution would "serve as a national model that city councils and local legislative bodies in other states can use to voice their concern to the Justice Department about the Zimmerman case and the Trayvon Martin killing and civil rights protections."
At vigils held in more than 100 cities over the weekend, including Los Angeles, Martin's parents and civil rights leaders called on the federal government to continue its investigation in the Martin's death.
The Department of Justice acknowledged last year that it has an open investigation into Martin's death. Last week, the department issued a statement saying multiple federal agencies, including the FBI, "continue to evaluate evidence generated during the federal investigation as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."
In a surprise appearance in the White House press room last Friday, President Barack Obama said 17-year-old Trayvon Martin "could have been me 35 years ago" and sought to provide a context for the outrage on display at protests across the country, including in Los Angeles and Oakland.
Obama touched on the federal investigation during the speech, saying "it's important for people to have some clear expectations" about the likelihood of federal charges being filed against Zimmerman.
"Traditionally these are issues of state and local government ... and law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels."