Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of the late Trayvon Martin, said they were “honored and moved” by President Barack Obama’s impromptu remarks on the George Zimmerman trial and acquittal.
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” the president said in a statement Rev. Al Sharption has hailed as “significant.”
‘There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. And that includes me,” added Obama.
He went on to express deep skepticism about the validity of Stand Your Ground laws and suggested the Trayvon Martin case should raise questions about how effective they are.
“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,” he said.
“The president’s comments give us great strength at this time. We are thankful for President Obama’s and Michelle’s prayers, and we ask for your prayers as well as we continue to move forward,” wrote the Martins in a statement.
“We know that the death of our son Trayvon, the trial and the not guilty verdict have been deeply painful and difficult for many people. We know our family has become a conduit for people to talk about race in America and to try and talk about the difficult issues that we need to bring into the light in order to become a better people,” they added.
The president’s ability to empathize with their son was especially powerful for the Martins.
“What touches people is that our son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, could have been their son. President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy.”
Text of President Barack Obama’s statement Friday following the acquittal last weekend of George Zimmerman by a Florida jury in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, as transcribed by Federal News Service.
Well, I — I wanted to come out here first of all to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is — is very much looking forward to the session.
Second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.
The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.
First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.
The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.
The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.
But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.