Politics

275,000 People Have Already Signed NAACP Call For Civil Rights Charges Against George Zimmerman

An appeal to Attorney General Eric Holder from the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. [Updated]

People react to George Zimmerman’s acquittal at Seminole County Court. Steve Nesius / Reuters

The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, saw a massive, instant response to a petition Saturday night urging the Department of Justice to open a civil rights case against George Zimmerman, who was cleared of all criminal charges in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The petition gained more than 275,000 signatures overnight, NAACP spokesman Eric Wingerter told BuzzFeed Sunday afternoon.

The appeal asks Attorney General Eric Holder to “address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today” and press civil rights charges against Zimmerman, who shot an unarmed Martin last February in what he said was an act of self-defense.

“The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida’s prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began,” the petition reads.

“The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin,” the appeal goes on. “We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.”

The NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, posted the petition around 10:30 p.m., just a half an hour after the Florida jury reached its not-guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial. Within the first hour of its publication online, the petition garnered 57,600 signatures, according to Wingerter.

In his own statement earlier Saturday evening, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said the group was “outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict.”

“We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed,” Jealous said.

Wingerter said the organization will keep its tech support team “up through the night” monitoring the high traffic on the website and petition.

The full text of the petition reads as follows:

Attorney General Eric Holder,

The Department of Justice has closely monitored the State of Florida’s prosecution of the case against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder since it began. Today, with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it is time for the Department of Justice to act.

The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.

Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today.

Thank you.

This post has been updated to reflect the most current figures for petition signatures. (7/14/13, 4:00 p.m.)

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