Alexandria City Council is considering a resolution supporting the family of Trayvon Martin, denouncing racial profiling and “reaffirming the city’s commitment to ensuring and protecting the rights of all.”
In February, Martin, a black teenager, was fatally shot by community watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. The incident became internationally recognized and spurred discussions about race in the United States.
Last month, about 100 people attended a vigil for Martin in Alexandria’s Market Square. Mayor Bill Euille addressed the crowd, saying it’s important to seek justice, fairness and equity and to show love and respect in regards to race relations.
Alexandria Human Rights officials presented the resolution to Council on Tuesday. Councilmembers opted to defer a vote on the document because of concerns raised by some of the resolution’s clauses that denounce the investigation and response to Martin’s death by the Sanford Police Department.
“What we would like to do is see statements of fact in the whereas clauses [in the resolution] as opposed to conclusions that are at least expressions of judgment,” Vice Mayor Kerry Donley said.
Jean Niebauer, director of Alexandria’s Office on Human Rights, and Alexandria Human Rights Commission Vice President Ludwig Gaines told councilmembers that they wanted to confront issues of racial profiling, vigilantism and Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows citizens to use deadly force in public areas in self-defense.
Niebauer said the commission wanted to address a national problem in “accountability with crimes against minorities.”
“If the sense of the commission is to object to the Stand-Your-Ground law, then it shouldn’t be in a whereas clause, it should be in a resolve clause asking us to affirm our opposition to statutes such as Stand-Your-Ground which create a presumption on the use of force… which I am more than happy to support,” Donley said.
Councilman Rob Krupicka asked Niebauer and Gaines to add language into the resolution about how Alexandria and its police department operate in regards to the issue of racial profiling.
“Whenever we do resolutions like this, if we can kind of tie it back to specific guidance to the operation of the city, it adds weight to them,” he said.
Niebauer and Gaines said they would rework the resolution and bring it back to City Hall later this month.