Nationwide (March 23, 2012) — President Obama spoke out for the first time on Friday about the fatal shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old African-American boy named Trayvon Martin, calling it a “tragedy.”
“I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” Mr. Obama said from the White House Rose Garden, “and when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local, to figure out how this tragedy happened.”
Mr. Obama added, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Martin was shot in Sanford, Florida nearly a month ago after a confrontation in a gated community with a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman maintains he shot Martin in self-defense, and a Florida self-defense law has so far let Zimmerman remain free. But Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with him when it happened, says Zimmerman was the aggressor. Before he shot Martin, Zimmerman called 911 and told an operator an unfamiliar African American was in the neighborhood. The 911 operator told Zimmerman to stop following him.
The U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation in the case and the local Florida prosecutor has convened a grand jury to consider criminal charges, but outrage over the incident continues to grow.