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July 19, 2013

President Obama: Travyon Martin could have been me

President Obama called on the nation to engage in "soul searching" as he made his first public remarks Friday in the wake of the controversy over the acquittal of volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

"The question, for me, at least, and I think for a lot of folks is, 'Where do we take this?' " Obama said. "How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?"

The remarks -- delivered in a surprise appearance at a sparsely-attended Friday afternoon White House press briefing -- served as some of the most extensive and personal remarks Obama has made on race since he became president. They came as he sought to explain why African Americans, including himself, have been so pained by the case.

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son," Obama said. "Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago."

Like other African American men, Obama said he's been followed in department stores and heard the click of car locks when he's walked past.

"I don't want to exaggerate this, but 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"

Obama said he's talking with aides about steps that can be taken to avoid such incidents, including a possible review of the controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws in nearly two dozen states. Though the Florida law wasn't used in Zimmerman's defense, Obama asked if Martin "was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?"

But he said that despite criticism of the trial, it was handled "in a professional manner" and that "once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works."

He called it understandable that there's been demonstrations, vigils and protests, but called for calm.

"If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family," he said.

 Obama seemed to signal that federal charges against Zimmerman -- as many protestors have called for -- are unlikely. He noted that Attorney General Eric Holder is reviewing the case, but called for "clear expectations" on the matter. "Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government," Obama said. "The criminal code and law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels."

But Obama said he believes there are steps "that as a nation" would be productive and said he's bouncing ideas around with his staff. Among the issues: law enforcement training at the state and local levels "to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists."

He also suggested examining state and local laws like Stand Your Ground to determine "if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations."

Obama also questioned whether there's a way to do "a better job helping young African-American men feel that they're a full part of this society and that they've got pathways and avenues to succeed...I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was, obviously, a tragic situation."

Reporters this week pressed Press Secretary Jay Carney on whether Obama would convene a national conversation on race --- as former President Bill Clinton did -- but Obama downplayed the move, saying he's not found politician-led conversations to be "particularly productive."

Instead, he called for some "soul searching" and conversations in homes, churches and at work: "There's a possibility that people are a little bit more honest and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy."

He sought to close his remarks on a positive note, evoking his daughters as he said that each generation "seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race."

"When I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they're better than we are," he said. "They're better than we were on these issues."

"Along this long and difficult journey,"Obama said. "We're becoming a more perfect union, not a perfect union, but a more perfect union."


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Praise Barack Obama

It took a lot of courage for Barack Obama to tell the truth about racism in this country. He put his political career on the line to stand up to negativity in this country. Praise Barack Obama.


We know what Zimmerman said also, so let's not be coy.

And he's the one with the 9mm, who claimed he was soooooo afraid of who he made out to be a criminal because of skin color, yet was emboldened by the firearm to hunt down and kill an innocent teenager who had as much right to be there as he did.

"The guy was concerned about his neighborhood..." No, he wasn't concerned with his neighborhood. Trayvon was part of his neighborhood.
Zimmerman was in no position to question, detain, intercept, harass, or confront anyone.

If he was concerned, what he was to do was call the police and stay out of the way. But he was a fantasy cop with a gun, in direct violation of the cardinal precept of the Neighborhood Watch program. So any thought that he was merely concerned with his neighborhood is only an emollient to soothe the irritation to the soul caused by bigotry.

If a black family can't find safety in a gated community because of these bigoted stereotypes now reinforced by this travesty of justice, what alternative do they have but to arm themselves in self-defense? Of course, all the pro-Zimmerman crown won't like that very much.

Jerry Frey

If Zimmerman had been found guilty of manslaughter, which in my opinion was justifiable for the teenager was unarmed, nothing would be different.



You miss the whole point. This guy was concerned about his neighborhood. He was only following a kid to see if he was up to no good. Apparently
he was up to no good. Or else why would he attack?


So If a "bitch ass cracker" would have been following you you would have turned around to beat his ass? Avoid conflict. Go home.


The character assassination of a teenager shot dead by a marauding wannabe cop says more about the people engaging in those heinous accusations than they do about the young Mr. Martin.

Trayvon Martin stood his ground. He had as much right to be there as Zimmerman. Unfortunately, he didn't have a gun to defend himself.

James Bishop

President Obama misses the point when he states 'It could have been me.' The fact is, it could have been anybody. Anybody that walks around an occupied vehicle in a threatening way, punches its occupant in the face knocking him down, and sits on him and continues to beat him may be shot and killed if the victim is armed. Mr. Zimmerman violated no laws. Mr. Martin did. It is a clear case of self defense that has been twisted into a racial incident by those who prosper from doing so.


If Obama was really interested in "Soul searching" he wouldn't be pouring gasoline on a raging fire of raw emotions. But then that is the largest part of the problem in the black community. Everything is based on emotional reactions rather than reason and logic.

How about some "soul searching" over how contemporary black "culture" has become profoundly anti-intellectual and largely devoid of personal responsibility? Why do you black kids who do want to learn and reflect it by doing their homework getting good grades and learning to speak proper English are bombarded with harassment for "tryin' to be white"?

Why is it if a black kid loses his life at the hands of a non-black it's a "crime against humanity" yet black youth slaughter other black youth by the dozen ever week in cities like Chicago and Detroit and the race pimps Jesse and Al and apparently Barack remain silent? Is a black kids life only of some value if he is killed by a non-black person?

Maybe Mr. Obama should do some soul searching about the daily scandals and violations of individual right swirling around his administration rather than, as I said, pouring gasoline on a fire.

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