Entries in Capitol Hill (3)


Trayvon Martin’s Parents Visit Capitol Hill to Demand Justice in Son’s Killing

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The parents of slain teen Trayvon Martin took their quest for justice to Capitol Hill Tuesday, attending a forum on racial profiling and hate crimes and drawing attention to their son’s killing that occurred more than a month ago.

“Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon is your son,” Sybrina Fulton told the panel. “A lot of people can relate to our situation and it breaks their heart just like it breaks mine.”

Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, thanked members of Congress for their support and said he wants to make sure that Trayvon “did not indeed die in vain.”

“He is sadly missed,” Martin said. “We’ll continue to fight for justice for him.”

Martin said he believes that his son was racially profiled, but it will be up to the Department of Justice to decide whether to charge Zimmerman with a hate crime.

“We continue to fight for Trayvon,” Martin told reporters after the briefing. “We look for this congressional committee to continue to help us and support us in seeking the justice of our son.”

Fulton struggled to find words to express her emotions, but after she took a few moments to regain her composure, she told reporters her heart is broken.

“I would just like to say that of course my heart is broken,” Fulton said. “But it breaks even more to know that we have not gotten justice yet and that this man has not been arrested for shooting and killing my son.”

The family’s counsel, Benjamin Crump, told reporters that the Twitter account purportedly tied to Trayvon that tweets about drug abuse and punching someone is not Trayvon’s account.

“We’ve called Twitter and that is not his Twitter account. It is an account that they’re tweeting after he’s dead,” Crump said. “There are so many things now where they are just trying to just blame the victim, demonize the victim. This was a young kid who was trying his best to make it through adolescence and all he was doing that night was trying to make it home.”

Public outcry has spread across the nation all the way to Capitol Hill as members of Congress have spoken out regularly on the House and Senate floor to honor Martin and demand justice. Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner called Martin’s death a “tragedy.” Last Friday about 250 congressional staffers rallied on the Capitol steps in Martin’s memory at a “Hoodies on the Hill” demonstration.

The briefing was organized by House Democrats on the Judiciary committee. Florida Democrats Frederica Wilson and Corrine Brown and Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked for the briefing, which was titled: Protecting a “Suspect” Community: Racial Profiling & Hate Crimes. The briefing room was filled to capacity as staffers and the public packed the room.

More than 100 black students from Professional Opportunities Program for Students (POPS) traveled 18 hours on buses from the Orlando area to attend the briefing and show support for Trayvon’s family.

“All in all, I just hope that justice is served,” Ethan Gene Baptise said.

“Justice shall prevail,” Lorenzo Howard, a 17-year-old student agreed.

Another student named Johnny said his message for Trayvon’s parents was to “just keep their heads up.”

“Everything will be all right,” he said. “God is with them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hoodies on the Hill: Congressional Staffers Rally for Trayvon Martin

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A large group of Capitol Hill staffers gathered Friday on the U.S. Capitol steps to rally in support of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old unarmed boy gunned down in Sanford, Fla. last month.

About 250-300 aides rallied Friday afternoon in support of “Hoodies on the Hill.” Participants were encouraged to wear hooded sweatshirts and to bring Skittles candy and iced tea, the two items Martin was carrying when he was killed by a 28-year-old man as he walked back to his father’s girlfriend’s House.

“We have a mandate to ensure that young boys like Trayvon live their lives and that they’re successful and that they have the opportunity we have today,” said Brandon Andrews, a congressional staffer who said he was representing African American men on the Hill.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black, a black retired commander in the Navy, led the group in prayer, invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. and telling the crowd of his own experiences with racial stereotyping.

The organizer of the rally, Ify Ike, said she posted ‘Hoodies on the Hill’ as her Gchat status Thursday and had encouragement from a friend to make her vision happen.

“Basically we just worked together to get other groups to galvanize and to stand for life,” Ike, who works as a fellow at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, said. “Regardless of what side of the aisle we stand on, we all are here today to say that we do respect life. Trayvon did matter. Trayvon was a good kid. Trayvon’s hoodie was not what made him suspicious. Trayvon’s skin should not have made him suspicious.”

One man sang Sam Cooke’s 1964 civil rights song A Change is Gonna Come before the crowd then joined together and sang We Shall Overcome.

Earlier Friday, President Obama made his first public comments on the shooting, calling for “some soul searching” and suggesting that if he had a son, “he’d look like Trayvon.”

“It took some courage for the president to talk on the issue, shows the national significance of it,” Jerron Smith, a congressional aide from Cleveland, Ohio, said at the rally. “It was just important that he made comments supporting the family and I think everybody should ask for justice and peace in this situation.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Family of Murdered Peace Corps Volunteer Mounts Candlelight Vigil On Capitol Steps

Peace Corp[dot]gov/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The second anniversary of the tragic murder of a Peace Corps volunteer will be marked by a candlelight vigil on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Friday, March 11. The family of Kate Puzey, a 24-year-old from Atlanta who was murdered in Benin, West Africa in 2009, organized the event in hopes that the Peace Corps will mark its own 50th anniversary by offering greater protection to whistleblowers. 
Ms. Puzey was murdered after telling her superiors that one of her co-workers was sexually abusing young girls in their charge.

"It was originally devastating to discover that there were no whistleblower policies in place prior to our daughter's death and to see Peace Corps' lack of response to us as a grieving family," said Kate's mother Lois Puzey, who will be meeting with members of Congress on Thursday and Friday.

At Friday's vigil, participants will light 25 candles to honor all the volunteers who've been murdered while serving overseas since the organization was founded in 1961.

The vigil will also honor volunteers who have survived sexual assaults. Members of Congress and activists who hope to improve the Corps' response to sexual assaults against volunteers will be on the Capitol steps for the 6:30 p.m. event. At the end of the month, Congress will hold hearings about sexual assaults against Peace Corps volunteers.

The Puzeys were interviewed by ABC News' 20/20 for a January report on their daughter's murder. Kate Puzey had written an email to Benin's Peace Corps headquarters reporting that a fellow Peace Corps employee, a local man who taught in the same village as she, had raped some of her seventh-grade students, and suggesting that the Peace Corps take action.

Kate's parents told ABC News that the Peace Corps failed to protect their daughter, and that they suspect her email was shown to the brother of the man she reported, who worked at Benin headquarters. Two weeks after she sent the email, Kate was found with her throat slit. The man she reported, Constant Bio, is the prime suspect. Both he and his brother are being held by local authorities as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Bio has maintained that he is innocent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio