Sanford, Fla., Congresswoman: Self-Defense Statutes Not Being Applied Equally

The congresswoman who represents Sanford, Fla., urged those upset with the George Zimmerman verdict to express their anger at the ballot box -- and channel their frustration into another case.

"My heart is just so heavy for the Martin family. You need to know that. And I contacted the Justice Department as soon as this incident happened along with the Congressional Black Caucus and asked them to investigate," said Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.).

Brown brought up the case of Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old Jacksonville woman who invoked Florida's Stand Your Ground law when she fired a warning shot into the wall to ward off her abusive husband.

"Marissa Alexander has a master's degree. Never had any trouble with the law, and the case shows that she was abused, beaten, put in the hospital, pregnant with a baby of her husband at the time. She shot a warning shot. She was overcharged and got 20 years," the congresswoman said.

"Let me just say that the criminal justice system is not working for the people that I represent. It's not working -- not just blacks, but poor people. Something needs to happen. And you can't not just expect the president or the Congress person, but you've got to arm yourself. You've got to be registered. You've got to vote that ballot. You've got to vote for the attorney general, the judges. I mean, everybody has to do their part, because this is unacceptable."

Brown said when she talks with her colleagues, "and I talk to different groups and organizations around the country, it's hard for them to believe that a person could actually get 20 years for firing a warning shot and no one got hurt, but yet, in Sanford, you kill a youth, and yet, you know, not guilty."

Angela Corey was the state attorney who oversaw the case against Alexander, as well as the one who brought the charges against Zimmerman.

"I'm not comparing, but there's something wrong with the system, and we need to double-down and change the law, that's the state legislators. We need judges to give them more discretion. I mean, we need to deal with the criminal justice system. And let me just say one thing, as a mother, we tell our children, do not talk to strangers. And we work with them to talk with the police force, but George Zimmerman was not a police officer. He had no business saying anything to that young man. None whatsoever."