Politics
Trayvon Martin rally. Photo: Getty Images: Mario Tama Trayvon Martin rally. Photo: Getty Images: Mario Tama  

House Dem calls for Trayvon Martin hearings

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez is calling for Judiciary Committee hearings on the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Gutierrez wrote that the committee must hold hearings on the matter “as soon as possible.”

“When any child is gunned down and no one goes to jail, it is incumbent on lawmakers at the highest level of government to investigate whether justice has been done, whether the underlying law is just, and whether federal legislation could help avoid another tragic death like the death of Trayvon Martin,” Gutierrez wrote. (RELATED: Four children gunned down in Chicago during Zimmerman trial)

George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges on Saturday in the death of Martin, after his attorneys argued self-defense.

According to Gutierrez, a member of the Judiciary Committee, Martin’s shooting death “undermines the rule of law, erodes community trust in law enforcement, and exemplify just how dangerous the combination of rampant fear and easily available guns can be,” he wrote. “Even as crime has gone down across the nation, fear of crime, fear of violence, and fear of fellow Americans seems to be ever increasing.”

Gutierrez went on in his letter to address the distrust he says working-class communities have toward law enforcement, pointing out that it took two months for law enforcement to make an arrest in Martin’s death.

He also criticized Goodlatte and the Judiciary Committee for passing the SAFE Act through committee, which would allow states and localities to enforce federal immigration laws as a means to improve interior immigration enforcement.

“There is a widespread feeling in many poor and working-class communities that the police are not there to serve them. The Judiciary Committee recently passed legislation you co-authored to drive an even greater wedge between local police and the communities they serve by turning all police into immigration enforcement officers and criminalizing millions of immigrants and their families,” Gutierrez wrote.

The Illinois Democrat further pointed to guns and the gun industry as another issue the committee should take on but “scarcely has anything to say about it.”

“I note with great sadness that Mr. Martin was just one of hundreds and hundreds of children we have lost to guns,” Gutierrez wrote. “There is no reason in a modern society to accept the sale, marketing, and widespread proliferation of guns as a means for killing other human beings and our laws should reflect that fact.”

Gutierrez’s goal, he concluded is to examine “the panoply of questions left unanswered as George Zimmerman goes free and the Trayvon Martin family mourns.”

Follow Caroline on Twitter