7.19.2013

President Barack Obama: 'Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago.'

President Barack Obama (Photo: Flickr.com/WhiteHouse)

In a surprise press conference on July 19, President Barack Obama addressed the controversial George Zimmerman verdict and the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.
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. [READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT]

“I think the President’s remarks were significant and much needed, and as we prepare to coordinate vigils in one hundred cities tomorrow with the parents of Trayvon Martin, I think he has set a tone for both direct action and needed dialogue," said Rev. Al Sharpton in a released statement

"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. 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," he added.

Trayvon Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin will stand with Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network for the “Justice for Trayvon” 100 city vigils this Saturday, July 20th. Sybrina Fulton and her surviving son Jahvaris Fulton will stand with Rev. Al Sharpton and NAN at One Police Plaza at Noon in New York, while Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin will join NAN’s Southeast Regional Chairman and Florida chapter a the Miami location for the “100-city Justice for Trayvon” vigil. I

n over one hundred cities across the United States, NAN is organizing “Justice for Trayvon” vigils on Saturday, July 20th to press the federal government to investigate civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. Hundreds of national preachers, led by Rev. Al Sharpton and NAN will hold prayer vigils and rallies in front of federal buildings calling on the Justice Department to investigate the civil rights violations made against Trayvon Martin.