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Trayvon Martin

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman took place on the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida in the United States. Martin was an unarmed 17-year-old African American high school student. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Hispanic American, was the neighbourhood watch co-ordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying and where the shooting took place. Zimmerman was acquitted of murder on July 13 triggering protests against racial profiling across America and calls for a federal civil rights prosecution.

NewsWorld
UNITED STATES

Trayvon Martin could have been me, says Barack Obama in stirring speech

President candidly speaks of plight of young black men after outrage at Trayvon Martin ruling

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 July, 2013, 9:28am

"Wow" is what Joseph Jones of Baltimore said after watching US President Barack Obama's unexpected and deeply personal plea on race and crime on Friday.

Like many African-Americans, Jones, who is the president of the Centre for Urban Families in Baltimore, felt a surge of pride, recognition and hope, he said, when he heard the first African-American president speak so candidly about race relations in the US.

Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago
Barack Obama

"We've grown in our society to a place where the leader of the free world can come out in the bully pulpit and talk honestly about race and young black men," Jones said. But the true test of progress would be if another, non-black president can be so honest, he added.

On Friday, reading an unusually personal, hand-written statement, Obama tackled the Trayvon Martin verdict, laying out his message of why the not-guilty ruling had caused such pain among African-Americans, particularly young black men accustomed to arousing the kind of suspicion that led to the shooting death of Martin in a gated Florida neighbourhood.

"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," Obama said simply.

That line was shared more than 6,700 times on Twitter in the first three hours after the speech.

The moment punctuated a turbulent week marked by dozens of phone calls to the White House from black leaders, angry protests that lit up the internet and streets from Baltimore to Los Angeles, and anguished soul-searching by Obama.

Obama offered his own reflections and implicitly criticised gun laws and racial profiling methods - both of which, critics say, played a role in Martin's death.

He did not criticise either the conduct of the trial or the verdict, in which a jury found a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman, not guilty of all charges in the killing of Martin in February last year.

But in the most expansive remarks he has made about race since becoming president, Obama offered three examples of the humiliations borne by young black men in America: being followed while shopping in a department store, hearing the click of car doors locking as they cross a street, or watching as women clutch their purses nervously when they step onto an elevator. The first two experiences, he said, had happened to him.

"Those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida," Obama said. "And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear."

For black leaders who had beseeched the president to speak out his remarks were greeted with a mixture of relief and satisfaction.

"We needed this president to use his bully pulpit," said the Reverend Al Sharpton, a civil rights activists and host on MSNBC.

Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, said they were "deeply honoured and moved" by Obama's comments. "President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him," they said. "This is a beautiful tribute to our boy."

Still, some of the president's detractors responded with scepticism about his motives or even anger at what they saw as a divisive injection of race into the case. Others expressed sadness, saying the president seemed to be saying that the nation's racial divide would never end.

"The great achievement of our society, the possibility of not talking about race, has been moved even farther away and maybe out of reach forever," said Joseph Davis, an artist and frame shop owner in Boca Raton, Florida, after listening to Obama.

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This article is now closed to comments

oasis
As much as we are urged to overcome stereotypes with open minds, stereotypes are a strategy populations use to deal with unknowns. Its not an unreasonable strategy, and thats why stereotypes persist. Not to say this is good - to the extent stereotypes create circumstances of perpetuation they are cruel. However those subjected to the stereotype can also strive to overcome it - but this takes a thick skin, a lot of self confidence, and frankly you'll never know if you made a difference. Shouldn't stop people from trying though.
HK_eh!
agree with the comments Obama pandering to his voters, instead of fixing the problems as mention by other comments like gun culture, inner city violence, major city cores degenerating into no man's land.
I was in Baltimore last month, talking to the taxi driver (interesting, even taxi drivers lives in the suburbs but works in the city for fares). He starts to list the areas where you don't want to go, that he doesn't pick up fares even in daylight. Yes, Baltimore is not a good example of an American city but symbolic of the city crime issues.
Instead of addressing the real issues, Obama does window dressing by sympathizing w/ a young black man. Why is even private/neighbourhood patrols, sir? Is it because people are worried about their safety and taking their own actions? Why is there stereotypes on the black men as he mention, is it because the crime rates show high % of these crimes being committed by such folks (not saying there is no white or asian trash but just the % is higher?).
Instead of using his position of power to do good, he's pandering to his voters and stirring up divisive racial emotions.
John Adams
Obama is a hypocrite, as are most American politicians
Mr Obama - clear up the mess in your own home before you start preaching to the rest of the world.
You may fairly say that China is not yet a 'democratic' country in the American sense but I put it to you that China is governed very much better than the USA and if this is the result of 'USA-type democracy' we don't want it here.
We don't have racial violence problems like you have in the USA , and neither do most other civilized countries. Maybe that's because slavery ceased to exist in China centuries before the USA was even founded, let alone abolished slavery..
And Chinese citizens don't need guns, even if they were allowed to have them ( which they are not)
ejmciii
You are one deluded unit. What do you call the unrest in the West or Tibet? Non-Han are lesser beings. As to abolishing slavery, you were chattels of the Emperor and are still to some degree chattels of the Party. So it goes. China is not a democratic country unless you are part of the Party and then you get to rule. Why? Because Daddy was Mao's buddy and you were invited to be in the party. What a fool.
johnh
Dude, you really need to get laid :)
jayb
SCMP not just adopting liberal american narrative, they even post it verbatim. can you imagine NYT post SCMP stories verbatim?
XYZ
"Trayvon Martin could have been me," says President Obama. If only.
bolshoi
It's the violent gun culture that they should start tackling in the US. People are easily and readily to be touched by such hollow rhetoric just as the voters were by Obama's campaign slogan. Obama has 'changed' and will 'change' nothing. To me, this is the fatal flaw of their system. My advice to him: while you've got so many issues at home, why don't you leave China alone to mind her own business?
pimehk
I agree with Joseph Jones words, except for the reference to the President of the US as "the leader of the free world". It again shows the deep bias of many Americans, that US is supreme.
ernest.j.roberts
Obama's comments are ironic considering that he grew up in Hawaii, which is multicultural. Trayvon Martin had a history of conduct problems, titled his Face Book page "Wild ****," and was heavily tattooed because of his apparent gang affiliation.Obama's kind of rhetoric is what one would have expected to hear in Russia in 1917.
jayb
Obama is rewarding blacks for their votes. 98% blacks voted for Obama in '12. during Bush II's, black unemployment was 10%, since O became POTUS, black unemployment stubbornly stands around 22%. when you don't have the tangible, drive up the emotions, racial flames.
 
 
 
 
 

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