Sen. Cardin: ‘But For Racial Profiling…Trayvon Martin Would Be Alive Today’

By Alissa Tabirian | July 31, 2013 | 3:54 PM EDT

George Zimmerman during his trial in Sanford, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel/AP photo)

( – Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) blamed “racial profiling” for the death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was shot and killed in an altercation with Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

“Civil rights is still the unfinished business of this nation,” Cardin said at a news conference Tuesday in support of a bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) entitled The End Racial Profiling Act.

“In Trayvon Martin’s case, the jury has spoken as to the criminal liability, but there’s no question that but for racial profiling, Trayvon Martin would be alive today,” Cardin declared. “He was identified solely because of what he looked like rather than any facts related to an individual crime.”

However, Daryl Parks, the Martin family's attorney, said at a press conference last month that “Race is not a part of this process, and anybody who tries to inject race into it is wrong.” Responding to journalists’ questions regarding his use of the term “racial profiling,” Parks explained, “It’s profiling, yes . . . it’s not racial.”

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When CNSNews asked Cardin to point to evidence that racial profiling was part of the case in light of Parks’ comments, the Maryland Democrat did not supply any examples or directly address Parks’ statement.

“He [Martin] was identified by Mr. Zimmerman because of what he looked like – there was no specific information about a crime that had taken place. He was identified because he was African American, and the way that he was dressed, for scrutiny. And the confrontation never would have taken place but for racial profiling,” Cardin replied.

“The law enforcement handling of it was based upon race,” Cardin added. “If it had been someone else and the confrontation would have resulted in a death, there would have been a different investigation done. The investigation was done differently because of Trayvon Martin’s race.

“And both of those are well established, that’s racial profiling. But for racial profiling, Trayvon Martin would be alive today. But for racial profiling, the investigation would have been handled differently and we don’t know how the criminal trial would have come out, but there would have been a different commitment to the type of evidence gathering that should have been done.”

On July 13, a Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman of all charges in the shooting, which defense attorneys described as classic self-defense after Martin knocked Zimmerman, who had been following him, to the ground and began slamming his head into the concrete sidewalk.

Conyers said his bill would make racial profiling illegal for law enforcement. Zimmerman’s acquittal, he noted, “only underscores the necessity of what we were working on and [what] we’re going to do anyway.”

“Many have asked whether racial profiling was involved in Trayvon’s case, because George Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch person, not a cop. But the answer is yes,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Rights Working Group.

“Trayvon was first racially profiled and assumed to be up to no good by a neighborhood watch volunteer who worked with the Sanford Police . . . and then, after his death, he was racially profiled again by the Sanford Police Department, which quickly concluded that Trayvon was the perpetrator of a crime and that Zimmerman had acted in self defense.”

Huang condemned the Sanford Police investigation for leaving out options such as “door-to-door canvassing” and “testing Zimmerman for drugs” even though the jury came to the same conclusion as the police.