Posted by News Express | 19 July 2013 | 4,271 times
United States President Barack Obama just made his first public remarks on the George Zimmerman acquittal, saying that many African-Americans believe that “both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different” if Trayvon Martin had been white.
He said somberly during a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room: “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.”
According to a Yahoo! News report: ‘In searingly personal terms, Obama described his experience with race-based prejudice. “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,” he said.
‘ “There are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator,” he said. “There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.”
‘So “the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history,” judging “what happened one night in Florida” through that lens, he said.
Obama seemed to pour cold water on prospects that a Justice Department review of the case would lead to federal charges against Zimmerman.
‘ “I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code, and law-enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels—not at the federal level,” the president said.
‘ “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 case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict,” Obama said. “And once the jury has spoken, that’s how our system works.”
‘He also tamped down suggestions he call a national conversation on race, but encouraged churches and families and communities to discuss issues surrounding the case and urged all Americans to engage in some “soul-searching.”
‘And he called for a review of laws such as Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute, suggesting that they re-write traditional self-defense rules in a way that fuels violence rather than smother it.
‘ “And for those who resist that idea – that we should think about something like these “Stand Your Ground” laws – I just ask people to consider: If Trayvon Martin was of age and armed could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?” the president said.
“And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws,” Obama said.
‘Over the longer term, the president said: “We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys” and to “give them a sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.”
‘Still, the president underlined: “I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.”
‘ “It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated,” Obama said. “But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are – they’re better than we were – on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.” ’
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