March 23rd, 2012
01:50 PM ET

Students walk out of school to protest Trayvon Martin's death

President Barack Obama weighed in on a growing controversy over the February shooting death of an unarmed black Florida teenager Friday, as students in several South Florida high schools walked out of class to protest the killing and the investigation.

Obama called the February killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, a "tragedy."

Martin, 17, was unarmed when he was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, by a neighborhood watch volunteer while walking home from a convenience store on February 26, according to police.

George Zimmerman, who police said was the man who killed Martin, claimed he did so in self-defense. Zimmerman, whose family says he is Hispanic, has not been arrested or charged in the killing of the teenager, sparking a national debate over Florida's "stand your ground" deadly force law amid concerns about racial profiling. A grand jury will convene April 10 to look into the case.

Here is a roundup of Friday's developments in the controversy:

[Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET] Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, said in a statement that it was "humbling that President Obama took time from his busy scheduled to talk about Trayvon."

"The president's personal comments touch us deeply and made us wonder: If his son looked like Trayvon and wore a hoodie, would he be suspicious too?"

Martin was wearing a hoodie, or hooded sweatshirt, the day he died.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said no particular development prompted Obama to speak out. He said the president had been monitoring the situation and was prepared to answer a question if he received one.

[Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET] On the day President Obama talked publicly about the case, GOP presidential candidates also spoke up on Friday.

"There needs to be a thorough investigation that reassures the public that justice is carried out with impartiality and integrity," Mitt Romney said.

GOP rival Newt Gingrich said that while he believes in the right to self-defense, it appeared Zimmerman was "overreaching."

"The question here is: Was this guy attacked or was he the attacker? And that is what the grand jury will lead to. I mean if they decide he was the attacker, I suspect they'll indict him," Gingrich said.

And Rick Santorum told reporters on Friday that Zimmerman's actions looked starkly different from those protected by "stand your ground" laws.

"It's horrible case. I mean it's chilling to hear what happened. And of course the fact that law enforcement didn't immediately go after and prosecute this case is another chilling example of horrible decisions made in this process," Santorum said.

[Updated at 3:39 p.m. ET] The state prosecutor investigating Martin's death said her team is traveling to Sanford with a "blank slate."

State Attorney Angela B. Corey's team was scheduled to arrive Friday and begin seeking facts in the case. She replaces State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, whose district includes Sanford. Wolfinger requested that someone else be assigned, saying in a letter to the Florida governor: "This request is being made in light of the public good with the intent of toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of this investigation."

Corey said Friday that she was not sure if a grand jury scheduled to begin meeting April 10 would be needed. She said her office has the power to charge Zimmerman, clear him or send the case to the grand jury.

[Updated at 1:50 p.m. ET] Officials with Miami-Dade County Public Schools have issued a statement urging students to respect the wishes of Martin's mother, who they say called them yesterday to "voice her disapproval of student walkouts and to encourage students to instead sign petitions, attend organized rallies and pray."

“While we respect the expression of emotion by our students, we ask that they remain focused on their education,” district school Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said. “Our most important mission is to provide a safe learning environment for students, and so we are asking them to respect the wishes of Trayvon’s mother by celebrating his memory not through walkouts, but through reflection and civic participation.”

Students in South Florida walked out of a number of high schools Thursday and Friday to protest Martin's death.

[Updated at 12:54 p.m. ET] Students from at least 10 South Florida high schools have staged walkouts to protest Martin's death, CNN affiliate WSVN reported.

Video from a WSVN helicopter showed students gathered on the Southridge Senior High School football field near Miami, standing in a formation that, when viewed from above, formed the letters "T" and "M" - Trayvon Martin's initials.

At Miami Edison High School on Friday morning, more than 900 students gathered at the school's track to demonstrate for an hour, CNN affiliate WPLG reported.

High school students aren't the only ones planning protests. In Dallas, people at Paul Quinn College planned to protest Martin's death Friday, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.

On Monday, people in Sanford, the Florida city of 50,000 where the shooting happened, plan to march to the site of a city commissioners' meeting, said Valerie Houston, pastor of Allen Baptist Church.

Also on Monday, students and civil rights leaders in Atlanta plan to march to the state Capitol to protest a Georgia state law similar to Florida's "stand your ground" statute, which doesn't require people to retreat from potential danger in public places and instead allows them to meet "force with force" if they believe there is danger of serious harm to themselves or someone else.

[Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET] Obama called the February killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin a "tragedy" on Friday.

"I can only imagine what these parents are going through. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids," Obama said to reporters Friday morning. "I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this."

Obama said Martin's death particularly resonated with him as an African-American parent.

"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Obama said in brief remarks outside the White House.

Obama's comments came during a news conference to announce that he would nominate Dartmouth College's president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, to be the next president of the World Bank.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Florida • Trayvon Martin
soundoff (461 Responses)
  1. hamsta

    since obama wants to make laws that state he can lock someone up indefinitely why hasnt he locked up zimmerman indefinitely?More of obamas flip flops,say one thing do another.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Hey Hamsta,you forgot your elustreous leader Bush with his HOMELAND SECURITY scam,no warrent search and siezures,TSA at air ports,illegal wiretaps,cameras everywhere.He was a control freak if there ever was one,turning BIG BROTHER into the gestapo, Herr Bush ,mien fuhrer.So don't point out Pres.Obama,when its your buzz kill,that started it all...

      March 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • wcb2009

      Zimmerman is not a POW. There is a difference between the average American criminal and a POW. I think your anger at Obama is causing is affecting your abiliity seperate fact and fiction

      March 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • stunner30117

      The president cant do anything about state gov.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Broski

      You do realize Obama doesn't personally go lock people up right? The local police is probabaly investigating it, there is a lot that goes on to follow a legal process and sometimes make people uneasy like yourself. Given this seems like a pretty straight forward deal to go lock this guy up, but the same process has to be followed to protect the ones who might not be guilty.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • James70094

      Maybe because those laws have not been made yet. What's next, blame Obama for what this idot did? They have enough evidence to lock Zimmerman up and should do it.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • RM13

      ????? are you feeling OK..perhaps you need to rest your brain

      March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hamsta

    just like that stimulus that was promised to help low income poor people_most of it went to democrats that contribute to obamas agenda(they lined their own pockets with your money).

    March 23, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Hamsta,I'm callin ya out,you sound like a disgruntled rightwing republican.Have a balanced breakfast,get some last night,sure sound grumpy.I know ,is constipation bothering you,EXLAX is the answer.It helps other republican a holes I know,just giving ya a heads up,the weekends comin up.Pres.Obama must certainly did not make this mess,so take a chill pill,and call me in the mornin.Your lucky ,my advise is free...

      March 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • stunner30117

      just have to say this.George Bush made the package. The president is just carrying out the bill. Sorry

      March 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • stunner30117

      dumb A@# do you even read the news? Do you even work for the government? no! The President is doing what President Bush did before he left office!!!

      March 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Darius

    And he wil be again.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. poppajohn818

    I figured Obama would enter this sad situation after I saw Sharpton. He is using this boy's death to divide us once again, just to win votes. This case has become a Circus and all at the expense of these two families. The race card is being played again, and according to the shooter's relatives he is Hispanic not White, so does Obama want to start a race war between Hispanics & Blacks now? TM's mom said "this is not our son it is your son", well said but the shooter is "your son" as well and all of this madness(rallies, protests, kids walking out of school) is degrading TM's memory. It is also, hampering the investigation and polluting the jury pool. Wake up America. Pray for both families & that justice is served, not abused.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    People are never satisfied.
    Obama says something, people slam him.
    Obama doesn't say anything, people slam him.

    Don't lose sight of the big picture: a boy is dead, and silly people use this as a thread to bash Obama?
    The man is hiding behind a law that Jeb enacted.
    Time to repeal this outlaw law.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Lest people forget, this is about a 17 year old boy who died.

    Not Obama.
    Obama expressed his condolences.
    There are plenty of other threads to spread one's hatred of our POTUS on.
    Please have some respect for this kid, even if one hates the person expressing those condolences.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      @ banasy

      Exactly my sentiments , couldn't have said it better.

      Twisted train of thought i see in them posts.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ????

    "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Obama said in brief remarks outside the White House.

    Huh ? How does he know that? LOL

    March 23, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO © I'm not a geneticist but

      Maybe he's already got one, from a girlfriend on the side, and he does look like Trayvon.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • zelda

      I know right! what a ridiculous comment

      March 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tamara

      I dont think he meant that n the literal sense... Idiot.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • RRAYFAMILY

      He wasn't evenn there for that reaso. He was asked the question so he answed it. Bush wouldn't have even known about it.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO © I'm not a geneticist but

      So if I understand this thread...Trayvon was GWB's son? Now there's a twist.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      cuz they all look alike... lol

      March 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ????

    "Obama said Martin's death particularly resonated with him as an African-American parent."

    What??? It should have "resonated" with him as a parent PERIOD. Not because he is a "African-American" parent.

    Geez.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Oh no...

      he made those comments cuz he is pandering to his "dark" side

      March 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. thomas

    The Right Wing Bigotry and Hate sure is thick today! Lucifer must be so proud.

    When they said they wanted to take us back to the 50s, I guess this is what they meant.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • seebofubar

      Thomas.....you are an idiot.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bobcat2u

    President Obama did nothing more than express his condolences over the needless death of this young man. Why turn this into a political thread ?
    A lot of you people act like this should all just be swept under the rug. But why don't you try putting yourself in the parents shoes and see this tragedy through their eyes ?
    Hopefully one day, you will grow a heart and be able to have some feelings other than hate.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Hey, Rawr.
      One just has to consider the source.
      Then, discard the sentiment, because the source went to the school of meme, before dropping out.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RB

    If u don't see that the MSM News media, is setting up for another KrystalNacht 2 and Holocaust 2, but with a different spin, as this was a 17 year old Black Kid being killed by a Jew( George Zimmerman.) The "Globalists/Elitists are setting up for something, like a KrystalNacht 2 and Holocausts 2 in Jewish Areas of the USA. If you don't see this you are "Deaf, Dumb and Blind" for what they are setting up for.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    Al only cOmes out when black people die. He is a leech and stupid. Someone should shoot him.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pntherpaw86

    Maybe the students should stay in school and learn so they can be better educated, break the trend of racial stereotypes in this country, and learn to respect others in their own community and in all walks of life. This was a tragedy, but the only way we prevent it from happening again is to educate and preach tolerance, not drum up gangs and spout hate.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • tpuck82

      True... Racism will never die because ppl are afraid to discuss it. I've tried to hold conversations on the subject but ppl shut down... It's like overcoming a fear... If u don't face it u won't overco.me it

      March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ????

      any excuse not to go to school.....

      March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bobcat2u

    uh oh.....
    I just pooped my pants again.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chrissy

    I think the guy did the right thing and acted in self defense. Stand your own ground...sounds good to me.

    March 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quit The Hate

      So it's OK with you that an unarmed 17 year old kid was murdered? Never mind, Trayvon wasn't doing anything wrong; never mind he was unarmed; never mind the police TOLD Zimmerman to stay away from him; never mind he was just a kid; never mind Zimmerman out weighed him by 75 pounds and had a gun. Standing your ground doesn't mean chasing someone down and confronting him b/c he's black. We all know what your really saying. How pathetic!

      March 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
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