After Zimmerman verdict, NAACP calling for federal civil rights probe

Updated 4:05 p.m. ET

(CBS News) "Legally, we have to accept" a jury's ruling late Saturday night to acquit former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the victim's family lawyer Daryl Parks said Sunday on "Face the Nation." But, countered NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, federal criminal charges could still await Zimmerman "for what he has done."

"There may be a civil action brought by the family, but there should definitely be criminal charges brought by the [Justice Department]," Jealous argued. Under the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, he explained, federal investigators would "have to show that race was a factor in his decision making - and there seems to be plenty of evidence that suggests that may race may have been a factor."

A Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement Sunday its investigation is "ongoing." It will consider evidence gathered during the federal probe, as well as evidence and testimony from the state trial, to see if it "reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department's policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial."

The 29-year-old Zimmerman, who claimed he shot Martin in "self-defense" during an altercation last year in a Sanford, Fla., gated community, "called 911 a lot about young black men that he thought were dangerous," Jealous said. "He said, 'these punks always get away.' Having had that track record, those words have powerful meaning - then you hear young men who say they felt targeted by him.

Full coverage of the George Zimmerman trial & Trayvon Martin case

"And so, that's our hope," he continued. "It should not be the case that somebody should be able to track, to taunt, to kill a young man on the streets."

Appearing alongside Jealous, Georgetown University's Michael Eric Dyson said the attack was racially motivated "from the very beginning," adding "it appears of George Zimmerman, when he said, 'These people get away; they always get away' - we don't have to be Einstein to deduce... that he's got a fear of and suspicion of African-American youth."

Dyson also took issue with the makeup of the trial's jury, which consisted entirely of women, five of whom were white: "They are reflection of the broader society's inability to empathize and imagine what it means to be Trayvon's parents and Trayvon, under assault, going home and you are assaulted by a marauding person who obviously is motivated by some sense of prejudice and bias toward African-American men."

Indeed, Parks said, "there's a better jury we'd have liked to have seen, without question; we would have liked to have seen a jury with more of his peers, whatever that may be." But, he added, "with a jury, you get who you get. ... They tried. We appreciate them; we thank them. However, their role is finished now. I think now it becomes advocacy of the country in moving America to a different point."

Dyson said: "In the 21st century, in this so-called, alleged sense of a 'post-racial era,' where we know race continues to make a huge difference, Trayvon Martin's body cries from the grave for us to not only grieve, but to get into action and to motivate ourselves - not only African-American people, but all good-willed and good-intending American citizens - to make sure that his death is not in vain."

Already, Jealous said, the Zimmerman case has ignited a necessary debate "about the way in which too many people in our country use color as grounds for suspicion.

"...Various cities and towns are dealing with this differently, trying to move to a place where, quite frankly, young people of color don't just have to fear the good guys and the bad guys," he continued. "We have enough to deal with - whether you're an officer or whether you're a self-appointed community watch volunteer, we shouldn't have to fear you, too."

  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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