A look at federal role in civil rights cases

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Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2013 8:46 am | Updated: 10:15 pm, Mon Sep 9, 2013.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Protesters attending the upcoming 50th anniversary of the March on Washington will renew calls for the U.S. government to get "justice for Trayvon."

Attorney General Eric Holder began a federal investigation after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin. The teenager's parents will take part in a march next week.

The federal government claimed its power of protecting civil rights as far back as the Reconstruction era, until its prosecutions were curtailed by court decisions and Jim Crow laws. The 1960s civil rights movement helped rebuild that authority and expand it.

Now, pursuing civil rights prosecutions is expected of the Justice Department.

However, in many cases that inflame racial passions, federal prosecutors don't find evidence needed to support civil rights charges.

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