Trayvon Martin’s family has confirmed to MSNBC that Trayvon Martin was suspended from high school for a minor drug-related offense.
Trayvon was “suspended for 10 days from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in North Miami-Dade for possession of an empty marijuana baggie,” according to the NBC News director of the southeast region.
Trayvon’s parents and supporters, including Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the family’s lead attorney, Ben Crump, held a press conference in central Florida, in response to the allegations that these findings might raise suspicion about Martin’s character. Martin’s supporters strongly asserted that Trayvon’s suspension is irrelevant.
Crump reiterated the family’s position that Trayvon was the victim of George Zimmerman’s deeds, and is not the one who needs to be put on trial. Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, 28, on February 26, in an act the shooter claims was self-defense. Trayvon, 17, was walking home from a corner store in the gated community where Zimmerman patrolled on the neighborhood watch when he was killed.
Trayvon was visiting his dad, at the home of his dad’s fiancee.
WATCH TRAYVON MARTIN’S PARENTS RESPOND TO SUSPENSION REVELATIONS
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Trayvon’s parents see the release of this information as an act of character assassination by Zimmerman’s supporters.
“Even in death, and Trayvon is gone and not returning to us, they are still disrespecting my son, and that’s a shame,” Tracy Martin told the assemblage.
“The only comment that I have right now is that they’ve killed my son, now they are trying to kill his reputation,” Sybrina Fulton said through tears.
Crump, Sharpton and Jackson accused Zimmerman’s allies of using Trayvon’s suspension to distract from evidence that Zimmerman’s pursuit of Trayvon caused the confrontation that resulted in the teen’s death.
“His family has talked [about this] over and over again,” Crump related in fiery tones, “Trayvon was an average kid. He never gave evidence of any violence. Trayvon is dead and can’t defend himself. Had Zimmerman not disobeyed the dispatcher and gotten out of the car, Trayvon would be alive. That we do know.”
Rev. Al Sharpton said he had warned Martin’s parents to expect negativity from the youth’s past to come under scrutiny.
“I said to the parents, as much as it will hurt, they will try to make your son a junkie, a thief, [an assaulter], and everything else before this is over, because they have done it in every case we have fought,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton also alluded to the fact that Zimmerman was not tested for drugs by police at the scene of the shooting, and the bias implied by the focus on Trayvon’s possible drug use.
“Now if you want to discuss something relevant, discuss what Zimmerman might have had in his system. Discuss his past. Mr. Zimmerman was not tested. Trayvon was. Let’s examine why we had a test on the victim, rather than the one that was aggressive. Let’s not play this double standard of trying to demonize [the one] who is dead, and sanitize who was the cause of the death,” the civil rights leader concluded.
Crump underscored other evidence from that night as having much more bearing on the case in his estimation, including Zimmerman’s voice as heard by Martin’s girlfriend over the phone before Trayvon was shot. Reports of their conversation support the family’s assertion that Zimmerman accosted Martin, leading to the fatality.
During the press conference, Crump clarified the misconception that the family is perusing a civil suit against the Home Owner’s Association that empowered Zimmerman as their neighborhood watchman. Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton are not pursuing a wrongful death suit against the HOA at this time.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb