Speaking at a luncheon for the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said he shared concerns about the "tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida last year."
The comments mark his first public statements since a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges in the case and since the NAACP, and other civil rights organizations, have been demanding a federal case against Zimmerman.
Holder, however, did not announce any new federal action on the case; instead he said his department would continue the investigation it made public last spring.
According to prepared remarks, Holder also said that the tragedy provides the country with another opportunity "to speak honestly about the complicated and emotionally-charged issues that this case has raised."
"We must not - as we have too often in the past, let this opportunity pass," Holder said. "I hope that we will approach this necessarily difficult dialogue with the same dignity that those who have lost the most, Trayvon's parents, have demonstrated throughout the last year and especially over the past few days. They suffered a pain that no parent should have to endure - and one that I, as a father, cannot begin to conceive. Even as we embrace their example and hold them in our prayers, we must not forego this opportunity to better understand one another and to make better this nation we cherish."
Moreover, I want to assure you that the Department will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We are committed to standing with the people of Sanford, with the individuals and families affected by this incident, and with our state and local partners in order to alleviate tensions, address community concerns, and promote healing. We are determined to meet division and confusion with understanding and compassion — and also with truth. 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. And we will never stop working to ensure that — in every case, in every circumstance, and in every community — justice must be done.