Was Trayvon Martin's Killing A Federal Hate Crime?Quicklink submitted By Amanda Lang Permalink
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|Civil rights groups cheered the news that the Justice Department would look into the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen shot by a man on neighborhood watch in Sanford, Fla.
But the bar for the Justice Department to make a federal case is high. Ultimately, it has few options at its disposal when it comes to investigating the teen's death.
But former prosecutors say one key tool passed early in the Obama administration might apply in this case: the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The law makes it a federal crime for someone to engage in violence because of a victim's race or color.
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), whose district includes the subdivision where Martin died, says she is looking to the Justice Department, rather than the Florida authorities, to fully investigate the case.