Trayvon Martin’s parents came to Washington and thanked members of Congress for their support during an emotional forum on Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon.
“Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon was your son,” said Sybrina Fulton in brief remarks at the forum, repeating a phrase she has invoked frequently since her son’s shooting has turned into national news. Tracy Martin praised members of Congress and others for keeping attention on his son’s death.
WATCH TRAYVON’S PARENTS ON CAPITOL HILL
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The forum, organized by several black members of Congress, was an effort to identify ways of preventing shootings like in Martin’s in the future. Representatives from the Department of Justice, as well as civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, offered a variety of ideas, from getting rid of “Stand Your Ground” laws to conducting a national conversation on racial profiling.
“How did George Zimmerman come to be carrying that gun on that tragic night?” asked Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “The answer is clear; it is because of Florida’s abysmal gun laws. George Zimmerman had an arrest record and a history of violence. Yet, in Florida, he was able to carry a loaded, hidden gun in public.”
More than a dozen members of Congress, all Democrats, attended the forum, which was moderated by Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan). Most were African-American, but representatives Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn.) also spoke.
The hearing largely served as a way for the members of Congress, particularly those from outside of the state of Florida who have not spoken publicly about the case, call for the arrest of George Zimmerman, who shot Martin last month. The hearing started with a moment of silence for Martin.
“We’ve come a long way, but this shows we have a long way to go,” said Cedric Richmond (D-La.).
This was the first, but probably not the last, hearing on Capitol Hill about the shooting. Democrats in the Senate have also urged hearings on the “Stand Your Ground” provisions.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr