The U.S. Justice Department could bring a hate crime charge against the shooter in the killing of black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin if there is sufficient evidence the slaying was motivated by racial bias and not simply a fight that spiraled out of control, legal experts and former prosecutors say.
I wouldn't trust any U.S. Justice Department, whether you have Holder, or Reno, or Ashcroft or Gonzales at the helm, to be able to determine what a "hate crime" is.
There's one other thing that's interesting about this paragraph. Did you catch the "not simply a fight that spiraled out of control" part? Based on what I've been reading, I would have thought that the shooter, one George Zimmerman, basically blew young Mr. Martin away in cold blood. There was a fight?
Actually, you could have learned that if you'd been reading the foreign press. The Daily Mail had a much better account of the state of play in this case than anything I'd seen in our local paper.
Meanwhile, back to the AP report and the testimony of an expert on hate:
Civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who has been appearing at rallies with Martin's parents to call for an arrest, said the Justice Department should investigate the case as a hate crime.
"Any time you have a pattern of engagement based on someone's having a particular group in mind, that qualifies for hate crime inquiry," Sharpton told The Associated Press.
Yep. Ask an expert.
So what should we conclude? Based on what I can tell from approximately 1000 miles away, my tentative conclusion is this:
1) Zimmerman was out of line, at least initially. It appears he started the fight and he's therefore likely to get in some trouble.
2) Having said that, once the fight was on he did have a right to protect himself.
3) The grand jury that will convene in the case should get enough evidence to determine whether Zimmerman should be charged. If I were to guess, the charge will be manslaughter.
4) No matter what the grand jury decides, someone is going to be pissed off about it.
5) And the chance that this case will further the cause of understanding and healing is approximately zero.