(USATODAY.com) - The gun used to kill unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin and other evidence in the racially charged murder case will not be released by the Sanford, Fla., Police Department, a police captain confirmed Thursday night.
The reason is that the Department of Justice has placed a hold on the evidence, Capt. James McAuliffe said in an e-mail. "Until that hold is lifted the evidence will remain secured," McAuliffe said.
He also said, "They have an investigation they are conducting separate from the criminal trial."
That evidence also includes the hoodie Trayvon wore the night he died in Feb. 2012, as well as the bag of Skittles that he carried when he was shot dead during a confrontation with former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon, 17, in self defense. Protesters have worn hoodies and carried bags of Skittles during demonstrations as a way to illustrate their feeling that Zimmerman's claim of feeling threatened was not plausible.
The news involving the evidence comes after Saturday night's acquittal by a Seminole County, Fla., jury of Zimmerman and subsequent protests and rallies across the nation, including calls by major civil rights organizations for the Department of Justice to pursue a civil rights case against Zimmerman.
On Tuesday at the annual NAACP convention, taking place in Orlando, Attorney General Eric Holder told the crowd: "I am concerned about this case and as we confirmed last spring, the Justice Department has an open investigation into it."
Holder also is slated to address the National urban League convention in Philadelphia next week.
Last weekend, the National Urban League, the NAACP, along with the National Action Network, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the National Council of La Raza together drafted and signed a letter to Holder asking his agency to pursue a federal criminal civil rights investigation "to the fullest extent."
"We firmly believe that the evidence will ponit to an egregious violation of the most fundamental of civil rights - the right to life," the letter read.
The National Action Network, a New York-based advocacy organization headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, has organized 100 "Justice for Trayvon" vigils in cities across the country.