MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry said during an address at Cornell University this week that she hopes 17-year-old Trayvon Martin “whooped the s--t” out of gunman George Zimmerman during their fatal encounter in 2012.
Harris-Perry’s speech, titled “We Can’t Breathe: The Continuing Consequences of Inequality,” was delivered during the university’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture.
She said the following of Martin’s death: “I hope [Martin] tried to stay alive. I hope he knew that he lived in a state with a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.’ ”
Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 on murder charges. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was never cited in his defense, though it figured heavily in discussion of the case. Instead, Zimmerman’s attorney claimed he shot and killed Martin, whom he had been following prior to a physical altercation between the two, in self-defense.
Harris-Perry’s address, which was captured and uploaded to YouTube by the university’s conservative group, the Cornell Review, continued: “And I hope he whooped the s--t out of George Zimmerman. And it’s not disreputable because he encountered a stranger who was prepared to kill him, and you know how I know? Because he killed him.”
Neither Harris-Perry nor a spokesperson for MSNBC responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
The Department of Justice announced this week that it had no grounds for a federal criminal civil rights charge against Zimmerman in connection with Martin’s death. Zimmerman had been performing a voluntary nighttime neighborhood watch patrol when he became suspicious of Martin's movements around a local neighborhood. During a 911 call, Zimmerman described his suspicions of Martin, but a dispatcher suggested he not follow the teenager. Moments later the two came to blows. Physical evidence and the defendant's testimony indicate Martin was winning the fight when Zimmerman shot and killed him.
“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy. It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in an announcement.
“Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future,” he said.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division added: “Although the department has determined that this matter cannot be prosecuted federally, it is important to remember that this incident resulted in the tragic loss of a teenager’s life.”
“Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases,” Gupta said.