Government
1:56 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

State Lawmakers Seek Justice for Trayvon Martin

More than a month after the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Pennsylvania lawmakers are joining in the nationwide wave of demonstrations calling for an investigation into the shooter.

House and Senate lawmakers have donned hoodies on the state Capitol steps to show their outrage. Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) says Martin's death is symptomatic of systemic discrimination.

"We stand for justice for Trayvon to rectify and right the wrongs of this system that values young, black men's lives less than everyone else," Hughes said. "They are just as human as anyone else."

Although not everyone donned hoodies, including Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), who explained why to a gathered crowd between 40 and 50 people.

"We are not standing here because of a hoodie. We're standing here because someone had some sick perspective of what it means to have a young person of color walk through your neighborhood, and that for some reason that requires or allows you to have some perspective of fear," Williams said.

Two House Democrats voiced interest in repealing the state's "castle doctrine" law, which allows a person to use self-defense if he or she is threatened with a weapon on his or her property.

The measure became law with the support of the state's district attorneys. Experts say it's a much milder version of Florida's "stand your ground" law.

Martin was fatally shot in late February by a neighborhood watch volunteer. George Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense and has not been charged at this time.

Williams says he has full faith in the federal Department of Justice, and hopes an investigation reveals that the local government should prosecute the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin.

"Hopefully Pennsylvanians [are] speaking out about another state and encouraging them to do what is logical to most Americans and that you should at least charge the man, and then ultimately a decision about a conviction will rest with the jury," Williams said.