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US Attorney General: Resolve Needed to Prevent Violence

  • VOA News

The top U.S. law enforcement official is calling for a new national discussion about the "complicated and emotionally-charged issues" surrounding the shooting death last year of an unarmed black teenager.

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke Monday in Washington, two days after a Florida jury acquitted neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman of murder charges in Trayvon Martin's death.

​Thousands of demonstrators have staged protests in several U.S. cities to protest the verdict.

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Holder said the America should not let the moment pass to have a "necessarily difficult dialogue" about stereotypes involving racial identity and young people.

"We are resolved, as you are, to combat violence involving or directed at young people, to prevent future tragedies and to deal with the underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs and stereotypes that serve as the basis for these too common incidents," said Holder.

Holder heads the country's Department of Justice, which he said is reviewing whether federal charges should be brought against Zimmerman. The agency would have to establish whether Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, was motivated by racial animosity, even though race was barely mentioned in the Florida trial. Holder gave no indication when a decision would be made.

There were demonstrations Sunday in several U.S. cities in which protesters called for justice in the face of what they saw as a race-based verdict.

U.S. President Barack Obama appealed for calm and quiet reflection Sunday, saying "we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken."

The 17-year-old Martin was killed in a struggle with Zimmerman. The death left many Americans saying Martin was targeted because he was black. Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense after he was physically assaulted by Martin.

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