President Obama has weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case, calling it a tragedy, urging cooperation among law enforcement and “soul searching” among all of us.
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” the Commander-in-Chief said, underscoring how the issue affected him on a personal, and not just a political or legal, level.
Of what Martin’s parents are suffering through, Obama said:
“I think they are right to expect that all of us are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of what happened.”
“Obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through, and when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”
“I think that 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 exactly how this tragedy happened.”
The statement by Obama came after he introduced Dartmouth President Jim Kim to be the next head of the World Bank during an appearance in the Rose Garden.
He took only one question before heading back to the West Wing, signaling that he was feeling pressure to make a public comment on the Trayvon Martin case.
He said he was wary of “impairing” the legal process but praised the fact that federal, state and local law enforcement are now working together on Martin’s death.
“I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen,” he added. “And that means we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.”
George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin in late February, has avoided arrest so far by evoking the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, which allows individuals broad latitude to claim self defense in wielding a firearm.
Florida is one of 21 states with such laws, which have since come under intense scrutiny even by previous supporters. Prior to that law being passed in Florida, there were 13 “justified” killings in the state each year.
Since then, there have been 36, as reported by the Associated Press.
The case has attracted widespread media attention, given the broad spectrum of issues it covers. Geraldo Rivera’s comments that Martin made himself into a target by wearing a hooded sweatshirt sparked controversy last week.