About 50 people gathered in Annapolis on Thursday to protest the acquittal of a Glen Burnie man who shot and killed another man last fall.
Relatives and supporters of Kendall Green are hoping the federal government will investigate the case as a hate crime. Green was African-American; the shooter, Matthew Pinkerton, is white.
"I know I have to fight for my child," said Green's mother, Felicia Carroll.
Carroll and the Arundel chapter of the NAACP have asked the members of Congress who represent Anne Arundel County to request a hate crime investigation, said Carl O. Snowden, a civil rights activist and NAACP official.
Reps. Donna Edwards, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Steny H. Hoyer received the request and forwarded it to the U.S. Department of Justice, said Dan Weber, a spokesman for Edwards. In a letter to the department's Civil Rights Division, the four lawmakers asked to be informed if any investigation is launched.
Green's family and the NAACP have complained about the handling of the case by Circuit Judge William C. Mulford II, who acquitted Pinkerton before the case could be heard by a jury. Carrying signs with Green's picture, NAACP members and other supporters marched Thursday from a church to the Anne Arundel Circuit Courthouse in Annapolis.
According to police and prosecutors, Green had had a romantic relationship with Pinkerton's wife and went to the Pinkerton home in the Harundale neighborhood of Glen Burnie in the early hours of Sept. 15 to see her.
Pinkerton and Green exchanged words, with Pinkerton refusing to let Green into the house. Pinkerton's attorney, Peter O'Neill, said in court that Green barged through the door and Pinkerton shot him in self-defense. Green was found dead on the porch.
At the conclusion of the prosecution's case June 20, Mulford ruled that prosecutors had not met their burden of proof and acquitted Pinkerton in response to a motion from the defense.
Carroll and the NAACP say the jury should have heard the case. They also complain that Mulford did not allow into evidence an allegation that Pinkerton used a racial slur in confronting Green.
Carroll described the slur as "the filthiest, dirtiest word in the English language."
"Those were the last words my son heard before he died alone on that porch," she said.
O'Neill said Pinkerton denies using any racial slurs and said his client felt threatened by Green's actions.
"I really don't think this case has anything to do with race. It has to do with the fact that Kendall Green was involved in committing a serious felony. … I think the focus on race is misplaced," O'Neill said.