Tue March 20, 2012
Trayvon Martin Killing: Federal Officials Will Try To Calm Racial Tensions
Here are some of the latest developments in a story that has captured attention across the nation and raised again the issue of race relations in America — the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last month:
-- As we reported late last night, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is sending officials to Florida and the FBI has opened an investigation into the "facts and circumstances" of the killing.
On Morning Edition, Mark Simpson of member station WMFE reported that community relations staff from Justice will try to address the tensions raised by the Feb. 26 incident. Family members and supporters say the local police department has failed to investigate the claim of 28-year-old George Zimmerman that he acted in self defense while out on a neighborhood watch patrol.
-- The local Seminole County Sheriff's Office on Monday released six recordings from among the "dozens of times" that Zimmerman called police over the past year to report what he said was suspicious activity in his neighborhood. According to the Orlando Sentinel, "in four of the recordings Zimmerman called police to report 'suspicious' persons — all of whom were black — in or near the Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood."
Zimmerman, who has been described as white in most media reports, is a "Spanish-speaking minority" from a multi-racial family, his father has told the Sentinel.
-- ABC News reports that "in the final moments of his life, Trayvon Martin was being hounded by a strange man on a cellphone who ran after him, cornered him and confronted him, according to the teenage girl whose call logs show she was on the phone with the 17-year-old boy in the moments before neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot him dead."
Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. Grand Jury To Investigate:
We've posted the news that the local state attorney says he is taking the case to a grand jury.