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DOJ Closing Investigation Into Trayvon Martin, Will Not Charge Zimmerman: VIDEO

George Zimmerman mugshots

Today the Justice Department announced that they are closing their investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin, the black teen in Florida who was gunned down by George Zimmerman three years ago in an incident that at its absolute most generous can be described as "tragic," or "wrong place, wrong time."

Federal prosecutors concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that Zimmerman had intentionally violated Martin's civil rights, and as such they will not be charging Zimmerman. While apparently a miscarriage of justice, the unfortunate reality seems to be that Zimmerman committed no crime, at least not with the way Florida's laws are written. According to one of the jurors from the initial trial:

[A]s the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can't say he's guilty. You can't put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty. But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.

A bizarre interpretation of manslaughter - one of the charges Zimmerman was brought up on - as several variants of the charge point out that the killer does not have to have had the intent to kill to still be convicted.

It really seems to be a matter of time before Zimmerman's luck runs out, however. While Martin at worst had some behavioral problems towards the end of his high school career, Zimmerman has had a string of encounters with the police, both before and after the shooting, and virtually all of them involve Zimmerman being violent.

ABC News has a video of the story, which disturbingly reveals that not only has Zimmerman gone into hiding but has been given back the right to carry a firearm, AFTER THE JUMP...

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MSNBC Highlights the Queer Origins Of #BlackLivesMatter - VIDEO


#BlackLivesMatter has become the emblematic symbol of the current world-wide movement agitating for wider recognition of violence perpetrated against minorities here in the U.S. The hashtag began in response to the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, who was murdered by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch enthusiast with a track record of overreaction.

Much of the story surrounding Martin’s death focused on the ways in which the local police department was slow to issue an arrest warrant for Zimmerman and how the court proceedings seemingly gave Zimmerman an excessive benefit of the doubt in hearing why he felt compelled to shoot Martin.

The degree to which value seemed to be denied black lives played directly into the creation of #BlackLivesMatter, and the hashtag has gone on to become the rallying cry behind a wide range of protests since then. Though we’ve come to understand #BlackLivesMatter in the contexts of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and the Chapel Hill shootings, its meaning and impact have since spread to bringing awareness of the systemic violence that trans woman (particularly those of color) deal with on a daily basis. The story of the hashtag’s roots in the black queer community have been woefully underreported up until now.

Cullors“You can’t choose what your most salient identity is according to the white gays,” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter says in an MSNBC mini-documentary. “My salient identity is queer. My salient identity is woman and it is black. I experience them all at the same time as I move about the world.”

She continues:

“It started to become clear as the hashtag and the movement started to grow that a historical narrative was playing out. The historic narrative of black people has been that [of] fighting for black, cis-, hetero-, Christian  men [to be] at the forefront of the conversation.

I think there was a sort of thing for black folks where it was like: ‘being black is already hard enough. Why do--it’s too much to try to be black and gay [or] black and trans [or] black, trans, and poor. That’s like too much. So let’s focus on this one issue that’s calle ‘blackness’ as if blackness [encompasses] all of everything. As if blackness is only one thing. And then once we get that down, then we can focus on the other things. But that’s actually a very harmful narrative.”

Watch the full mini-documentary delving into the origin of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag AFTER THE JUMP...

Screenshot 2015-02-23 16.00.09

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Next Magazine Asks Whether #BlackLivesMatter to Gays


Last Saturday, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organized a peaceful March and rally in Washington, D.C. in protestation of the recent high profile police killings of young black men and children. Thousands flooded into the District’s streets, forming a procession that flowed down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. Similar demonstrations including marches, “die-ins,” and occupations have sprung up across the country following a series of grand jury decisions not to indict various police officers involved in civilian killings.

Writing for Next Magazine, columnist Gabe Gonzalez wonders “Do Black Lives Matter to Gays?” A casual glance at the demographic makeup of protesters shows a mix of different races and genders organizing under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, but Gonzalez takes to task the seeming lack of support he sees within many gay social groups.

“After a Staten Island grand jury refused to indict Daniel Pantaleo on December 3 for the murder of Eric Garner, I logged on to Twitter hoping to see a queer community ready to organize and lend support on behalf of black lives,” he writes. “It was just two short months ago that we rallied together under the hashtag #MyNameIs, after all. Instead, I saw someone tweet about seeing Kinky Boots for the nth time, some sharing a drag queen’s new music video, and others sending out party invitations.”

The social mobilization around Facebook’s cracking down on drag performers’ use of their stage names was swift, though in reality it only affected a relatively small portion of Facebook’s total users. Gonzalez argues that regardless of the size of the community impacted, members of the LGBT community are remiss in their decisions to remain virtually silent in the public outcry.

Earlier this year the HRC and 16 other LGBT rights organizations penned an open letter expressing their solidarity with Michael Brown’s family. A number of NYC-based LGBT advocacy groups shared a similar letter after it was announced that Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold, would not be indicted. Though solidarity from organizations is a start, Gonzalez’s call to action is squarely aimed at individuals who seem to have extricated themselves from the conversation:

“When LGBT causes like #MyNameIs grab national headlines, we urge friends and allies of all backgrounds to join our voices in seeking justice. But now, when our black friends have spoken out; when the media has no choice but to repeat the names Michael, Trayvon, Eric, and Akai; when it matters most that we permanently etch these atrocities into our collective histories—we’re quiet. Those very same voices that flooded your feed with #MyNameIs or #LoveIsLove and never let you forget they were holding space for a cause until they saw a meaningful outcome can’t seem to find the 140 characters to articulate how or why #BlackLivesMatter.”

Macklemore Speaks Out for Trayvon Martin, Against Racial Profiling: VIDEO


In a taped segment at the American Music Awards with Ryan Lewis at his side, Macklemore spoke out against racial profiling in a tribute to slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.


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Halloween Losers of the Year: PHOTO


The Florida threesome who thought it "f--king hilarious" to dress up like Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and post their photo to Facebook.

The Smoking Gun, which also has their rap sheet:

The image of the duo was uploaded Friday to the Facebook page of Caitlin Cimeno, a Martha’s Vineyard native who captioned the photo “Happy Halloween from Zimmerman & trayvon.” Cimeno, flanked in the photo by the two men, followed those words with a smiley face emoticon.

Greg Cimeno, 22, portrayed Zimmerman, complete with a “Neighborhood Watch” t-shirt. Cimeno lives in Cape Coral, Florida, where he appears to work for a carpentry firm.

William Filene, 25, dressed up as Martin, covering his face in black paint and donning a gray sweatshirt with a single bullet hole surrounded by fake blood. Filene, who also lives in Cape Coral, was arrested in June for felony auto theft. His rap sheet also included collars for loitering/prowling and failing to register an automobile.

Pres. Obama: "Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Me 35 Years Ago": VIDEO


In a broad-ranging statement given to reporters on Friday, President Obama spoke about Trayvon Martin and reactions to George Zimmerman's acquittal for the first time since the jury in the high-profile case reached its verdict last weekend, The Washington Post reports. Recalling his own reaction to first hearing of Trayvon's death, the President remarked:

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is that Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. When you think about in the African-American community, there’s a lot of pain around this. It’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away. And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”

Drawing further comparison between himself and Travyon, the President stated, ”There are very few African-African men who haven’t had the experience of being followed in a department store. That includes me.”

Throughout his remarks, the President remained focused on "where do we take this." He mentioned that Eric Holder was reviewing the case but brought the attention back to potential policy initiatives and called for an examination of local and state laws such as the "stand your ground" laws:

“And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like the stand your ground laws I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”

The President also mentioned that he and First Lady Michelle Obama have spent a lot of time, "thinking about how to bolster and reinforce African-American kids. There are a lot of kids out there that need help, that are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.”

Hitting a hopeful note the President reflected on his belief that race relations in this country continue to improve with each generation:

"Looking at his daughters Sasha and Malia with their friends, Obama remarked, 'They’re better than we are, they’re better than we were, on these issues. And that’s true at every community I’ve visited across this country.'

'We should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did. And along this long journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union, not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.'"

Watch two clips of the President's remarks, from CNN and ABC respectively, AFTER THE JUMP...

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