Much bluster has come from Eric Holder in the past week about civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. As I have written, the Justice Department has a high hurdle to bring such charges under two possible statutes (18 USC 245 and 18 USC 249), largely because there is no evidence Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin with the requisite racial intent or motivation.
But can the same be said of the bounty the New Black Panthers placed on the seizure of the lawfully free man, George Zimmerman?
18 USC 245 says:
Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, by force or threat of force willfully injures, intimidates or interferes with, or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with . . . any person because of his race, color, religion or national origin and because he is or has been . . . traveling in or using any facility of interstate commerce, or using any vehicle, terminal, or facility of any common carrier by motor, rail, water, or air.
The Justice Department has successfully advanced, under this law, a “public streets” theory. That is, a citizen is free merely to be in public and free from attacks and intimidation. Like in the renewed civil rights hunt for Zimmerman by Holder, racial motivation is an element.
Except with the New Black Panthers, their racial motivation is on open display. There is no dearth of evidence. The FBI has not already precluded it.
So, here are the elements.
Attempted interference with George Zimmerman’s liberty by offering a bounty for his seizure. Check.
Interference with George Zimmerman because he is not black, and/or is a “white Hispanic.” Check.
Seizure of George Zimmerman while he travels in public. Check.
Eric, if you are looking for an easier civil rights case, it is time to look at the New Black Panther bounty on George Zimmerman. You can even create an email [email protected].
Of course we know what’s in your wallet. So we aren’t expecting you to suddenly care about New Black Panther crimes.
UPDATE: The Latin Times story is dated July 18, 2013. The video linked in the story is older. The federal statute of limitations is five years.