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Local Leaders Say Issue Of Racial Profiling Must Be Dealt With

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WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — George Zimmerman is in hiding and waiting to learn if he’ll face new charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.

On Saturday, the neighborhood watchman was found not guilty in the murder of Martin.

From the beginning, the case touched a nerve on race relations.

On Sunday night, thousands marched in protest of the verdict in Dudley Square.

Whether or not you believe Martin was racially profiled, the issue of racial profiling is nothing new. But why has it been languishing for years?

State Rep. Byron Rushing has been trying unsuccessfully for years to get better data on the role race plays in police traffic stops to see where anti-profiling education should be directed to avoid misunderstandings.

“We need the general public to understand how dangerous this is, because you don’t want to have a situation where there is no racial profiling but people think there might be because they’ve had all these other cases that have never been dealt with,” he said.

And Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry, the mother of four biracial kids with her Irish-American husband, says ending unfair profiling will take more than new laws.

“It falls on the adults because our kids come into the world with none of that in their minds but sometimes it’s the parents and the environment that kind of fosters it,” she says. “We have to do it for the generation that’s coming up and the generation that’s coming after.”

Gov. Deval Patrick, a former head of the civil rights division in the U.S. Department of Justice, also told reporters on Monday that he believed the department’s options going forward in the case might be limited.

Patrick stressed that he was not in the courtroom and understands the danger of trying to second guess a jury.

“But of what I understand the facts, it’s a chilling thought that you can be in a neighborhood out buying a soda or a pack of Skittles and have your life taken from you by somebody who just thinks you don’t look like you belong there,” the governor said.

Patrick, said he based his belief that the Justice Department would have limited options on his own understanding of the law.

Patrick, the nation’s second elected black governor, noted that Massachusetts does not have the same gun laws as Florida, but added:

“We all suffer from the suppositions that we make about people based on what they look like and where they are and whether you think they belong where they are. It’s a reminder that we are going to have to think outside of those boxes, and in this case, thinking inside that box was deadly.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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