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Policeman suspended over Trayvon comments


The furore over the shooting of a 17-year-old African- American on a Florida street one month ago continued to rage yesterday as the victim's parents attended hearings on hate crimes in Washington, and outrage erupted in New Orleans over comments made by a police officer about the case.

Civil rights leaders and representatives of the family of the victim, Trayvon Martin, kept up their public campaign to demand that the neighbourhood volunteer who shot the teenager, George Zimmerman, be arrested and charged with his murder

The case is now being investigated by a special prosecutor in Florida as well as by the Justice Department. No charges have been filed against Mr Zimmerman.

The killing took place in Sanford, a suburb of Orlando, but it continues to reverberate across the United States. In New Orleans a police officer named Jason Giroir was suspended after he wrote "Act like a Thug, Die like one" on a forum beneath a story about Mr Martin's death on a CNN-affiliated news site. "To say that I'm angry is an understatement. I'm furious," Police Superintendant Ronal Serpas said in a statement, while black leaders in the Crescent City warned of possible unrest because of the officer's words.

Police in Sanford have indicated they were unable to arrest Mr Zimmerman because of the controversial "Stand your Ground" law passed by the Florida legislature. This guarantees citizens immunity from prosecution if they the use deadly force in response to a situation where they feel seriously threatened.

It is that law, as well as issues of racial profiling, that was to be the focus of hearings later yesterday on Capitol Hill organised by Democrat members of the House Judiciary Committee. The mother and father of Mr Martin were invited but were not expected to testify. Their lawyer was set to speak.