As the demonstrators dispersed, I caught up with New York City Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, at the tail end of an interview with (go figure) Iran’s Press TV. De Blasio told Press, “We need to see the Justice Department go into Florida and take over the Zimmerman case,” and he sought to reassure viewers of the Iranian state-owned network that not all Americans accept the decision of the jury:
I think there’s a large number of Americans who are deeply deeply upset by the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case; we don’t accept it. We believe in our jury system, but we think that this verdict was fundamentally unfair, and we need action to overcome it. That’s why we want our Justice Department to stand and take over the case, and show that there’s going to be fairness in this country.
When I questioned de Blasio about President Obama’s remarks yesterday — including the apparent implication that Attorney General Eric Holder will probably not pursue civil-rights charges against Zimmerman — he replied, “First, this movement needs to demand that the Justice Department act. I don’t think that the Justice Department lives in some ivory tower; I think we have to demand action by the Justice Department.” He later added, “I don’t take the president’s remarks as setting a ceiling here. . . . we need to push him and the administration to go farther.”
De Blasio also drew a parallel between stand-your-ground laws and the local controversy over the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactic, which he cited as another policy that produces “racial profiling,” at least as currently practiced by the NYPD. (De Blasio and his rivals for the Democratic nomination have made curtailing stop-and-frisk a central theme of the mayoral campaign.)