Regardless of the subtlety of previous civil rights laws and the requirements in some cases that the perpetrator be a state actor or that the victims be involved in specially protected activities, that’s no longer relevant today, because of 18 USC 249 which was signed into law October, 2009 by Obama (long after I graduated from law school):
(a) In General.—
(1) Offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.— Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person—
(A) shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with this title, or both; and
(B) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if—
(i) death results from the offense; or
(ii) the offense includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.
So this is a catch-all statute that allows a federal do-over in any criminal case in which it’s perceived that the defendant committed the crime “because of” the race of the victim.
It feels like a violation of the principal of Double Jeopardy, but no one cares about stuff like that when there’s the goal of putting evil racists behind bars.
Anyway, the point of this post is that this statute will be used to prosecute George Zimmerman a second time if he’s acquitted by the state jury.