Attorney General Eric Holder called the death of Trayvon Martin a "pain no parent should have to endure," and said that the Justice Department has a high bar to cross to bring a federal hate crime case against George Zimmerman.
"For a federal hate crime, we have to prove the highest standard in the law it is something that was reckless, that was negligent," Holder said at a news conference. "We have to show that there was a specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind."
Asked by ABC News' Pierre Thomas about his reaction to the murder of Martin as a parent, Holder said, "People have reacted to this on a number of levels. I mean as a parent, I reacted to it [as] this is a pain that no parent should have to endure. The notion of having to bury a child is something that is, I think, in some ways for a parent the ultimate pain, so there was that reaction."
"We also have, I think, a reaction that is based on issues we have faced in this nation over the years. It brings to the surface many of those issues, so there was that reaction as well," Holder said.
Earlier in the day Holder addressed the opening of the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by the Reverand Al Sharpton.
"I know that many of you are greatly - and rightly - concerned about the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a young man whose future has been lost to the ages," said the attorney general.
"[We] refuse to allow fear and frustration to divide the American people, who continue to fight for the safety and civil rights of all; and who, in recent weeks, in the wake of a tragedy we're struggling to understand, have called not just for answers and justice but also for civility and unity, and for a national discourse that is productive, respectful and worthy of both our forebears and our children."