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Faith leaders vow action in wake of US teen`s killing

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:36

Washington: African-American faith leaders vowed on Tuesday to harness anger over the Trayvon Martin case to overturn "stand-your-ground" laws and reassert the case for greater civil rights.

Speaking outside Department of Justice headquarters, Reverend Al Sharpton announced a National Justice for Trayvon Day for Saturday with rallies outside federal buildings and court houses in more than 100 cities nationwide.

"People all over the country will gather to show that we are not having a two- or three-day anger fit," said the civil rights firebrand, flanked by more than a dozen other African-American clergy members.

"This is a social movement for justice."

Sharpton added that "tens of thousands" would converge on Washington for a protest march on August 24, the Saturday before the 50th anniversary of the late Martin Luther King`s historic mass march on the US capital.

Saturday`s acquittal of gun-toting neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Martin has stirred anger and unrest across the African-American community.
Sharpton is pressing the Department of Justice to reopen a civil rights investigation into the incident that was suspended when Zimmerman was arrested six weeks after the killing.

US Attorney General Eric Holder, calling Martin`s death "tragic and unnecessary," called yesterday for a dialogue on the racially-charged issues it raises, but he stopped short of announcing civil proceedings.

Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, pledged a major campaign against so-called stand-your-ground laws in Florida "and 29 other states" that allow citizens who feel threatened to use lethal force in self-defence.

"The stand-your-ground law was not used directly at this (Zimmerman) trial, but it had everything to do with what happened at this trial," he said, adding that such laws represented "a new threat to civil and human rights."

"Let us be clear. It is now because of these laws where anyone walking, committing no crime, can be followed or approached by another civilian, and they can use deadly force and say it was self-defence," he said.

"That is something that is frightening and cannot be allowed to sustain itself in this country."


First Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 08:36
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