Even though the shooting death of Trayvon Martin happened a continent away, Los Angeles officials Wednesday joined in the call for a federal civil rights investigation, as they noted the city was only one incident away from racial violence.
The Los Angeles City Council, in a 13-0 vote, supported the inquiry authorized by Attorney General Eric Holder following the Florida verdict clearing George Zimmerman in Martin's death.
"We wanted to be careful in what we called for and make sure there is an investigation first and not a prosecution," said Councilman Bernard Parks, who wrote the motion and once served as chief of police. "I often think of the people who came to me to ask for a permit to carry a gun, and I would ask them why they needed one. In most instances, it was not justified.
"What we have found is that it gave people a false sense of security. And if you read between the lines in this case, Mr. Zimmerman got involved in something he was not prepared to handle, and the gun was the equalizer."
Councilman Paul Krekorian also questioned the "stand your ground" law in Florida and other states.
"Too often, this society is too quick to resort to violence to resolve disputes," he said. "This case is a good reminder of that fallacy."
The measure was supported by a number of community leaders.
"It's a matter of simple justice," said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, founder of the Los Angeles Urban Round Table. "You have had a national call from every major civil rights organization asking for an investigation.
"Why should Los Angeles get involved? Because it puts the city on record in becoming a model for justice and fairness. We live in a society where there is still division along racial lines and so much anger."
Hutchinson was among the community leaders who worked to control the violence and crime that occurred following the Zimmerman verdict.
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