Several New York City House members at a Manhattan news conference Monday said they will push hard for a federal civil rights trial for George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
"Trayvon Martin did not have a gun, a knife or weapon. All he had was a package of Skittles that set into motion the events that led him to be shot dead in cold blood," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), holding a bag of candies like those Martin had when he was killed. "That should not happen in America."
Zimmerman was acquitted Saturday of second-degree murder charges by a Florida jury. The verdict spurred calls for a federal trial to determine if Martin's civil rights were violated.
Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the killing of Trayvon Martin a "tragic, unnecessary shooting," and said the Justice Department will follow "the facts and the law" to see whether federal charges are warranted.
Jeffries and his House colleagues at the news conference, in front of Manhattan's federal courthouse, said there is plenty of evidence against Zimmerman.
He saw Martin as a threat "and that was being black and walking in the wrong neighborhood. The state of Florida failed to serve justice," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
Martin was targeted because he was African-American, said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), reminding those at the news conference that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was told by law enforcement officials to stay in his car and not pursue the 17-year-old.
"We need to look at the race issue," Meeks said.
Martin's family "should know there is a groundswell of Americans who want to do the right thing," said Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem).
Later, Rangel said "the U.S. Constitution protects people from profiling whether its race, religion or political. This is not just a black and Hispanic caucus issue." he said. "I know when we get back to Washington more representatives will come forward with their support, including Florida."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.