Rev. Al Sharpton, who will be leading vigils this weekend in support of Trayvon Martin, applauded President Barack Obama’s remarks on the George Zimmerman trial verdict, calling them “significant” and “much needed.”
Zimmerman was acquitted on second-degree murder (and lesser charges) in the death of Trayvon Martin this past weekend. Zimmerman’s defense team argued that he shot Martin in self defense.
President Obama said in an impromptu White House briefing, “The African-American community is looking at this through a set of experiences and history that doesn’t go away.”
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” he added.
“I think he has set a tone for both direct action and needed dialogue. We intend to raise the issue of the Stand Your Ground laws that he discussed today that must be revoked in Florida and across the country and we will have a three day conference in Miami starting Tuesday,” said Sharpton in a statement. “We welcome the Department of Justice having a serious investigation into what happened in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. Tomorrow in an unprecedented one-hundred city movement that we organized in less than six days shows the outrage of our community. The mother of Trayvon Martin will join me in New York and the father will be in Florida.”
The president explicitly questioned the validity of Stand Your Ground laws and posed a question to Americans regarding the Zimmerman case.
“If Trayvon Martin was of age and was armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?” Obama asked. “If the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we should examine those laws.”
Not every black activist was supportive of the president’s remarks. Talk show host Tavis Smiley, a frequent critic of Obama, slammed his statement on Twitter.
“Took POTUS almost a week to show up and express mild outrage. And still, it was as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid,” tweeted Smiley.