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. Sam

    The students are just looking for a reason to walk out of school. The more I hear about this, the more sick I become. I feel for this kid's family but not all the facts are being stated. Everyone is jumping aboard the racial card when everyone the shooter knows says he was not at all racist. Not just family and friends, but neighbors, who have nothing to gain, state he was kind and not at all racist. People can speak out against profiling all they want but I bet you anything that not one of them would have answered their door if the kid had came to them for help. The news and the people protesting are forgetting to include at what time of night this took place and that Zimmerman did appear as if he were attacked when police arrived. And how come all of the witnesses have different stories of what took place? Also, this kid was 17, not 13 or 14 like the pictures they are posting make him look. If I saw a 17 year old hooded black male out in my gated neighborhood at 2 am, I would be highly suspecious too! It's not racial profiling, it's paying attention to statistics. If asians or whites were responsible for 90% of America's crime, I would profile them. I agree, racial profiling should stop. But first, blacks need to stop committing so many crimes all of the time to avoid having that stereotype.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Except it wasn't outside at 2: a.m.....look at the 911 calls timeline!

      March 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. larry5

    What's all the fuss about. The media has already convicted this guy. The media is not hampered by evidence or any of those other nit-picky details. Even the President is returning the favor of years of support by getting in a little bit of campaigning and propping up the media. Why ruin a good story with facts and details when there is a re-election campaign in full swing. Never let it be said that the train left the station without Obama on board.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      Maybe you should read the latest...Seeing THEY ALL had something to say on the matter.. but what Obama said was genuine and original.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason scott

    Whats all the fuss about here

    March 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jason scott

    Come re-election obama will be out

    March 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      Really Now? Why? because?

      March 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PEACE BE STILL

    @Gruber...Brad Wms is "very" funny...really got my side hurting....because you really thing YOU matter...by the way just got a BIG HUG AND KISS from your sister (because she is white) because she opened her check and had a $300 bonus on her check because she works her butt off for my business and she is deserving of it....see WE CAN GET ALONG AND PAID AT THE SAME TIME...

    March 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      @ Peace....Yeah Brad is funny. I thinks hes/she/it makes a very good comic relief. I don;t mind because we can;t all be alike...but it would be cool if we could all get along.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chuck

    Why won't CNN let me post?

    March 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PEACE BE STILL

    @Jason scott....you think....I don't.....but WAIT.....almost forgot...WE don't control the poll booths....so you might be right

    March 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason scott

    Obama better enjoy his time in office while he can come election time he is out. He has proven nothing but that he is a big loar like several past presidents. Look at his ratings. He wont make it

    March 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      No need to look at his "ratings" only need to llok at his opponents. He will Be Fine.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Then the rupublicans better come up with a better candidate than what they have so far. I do not want Obama to get re-elected but I would rather that by far than have Romney or Sanatorum as president. Their backwards values and small minded concerns will kill this country faster than Obama ever could.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jake

    So let me get this scenario straight. A pitbull has been spotted in the neighborhood attacking people. One night you spot a pitbull roaming the neighborhood. You don't want anyone else to get hurt and you know you are armed. You run after it and try to catch the pitbull so it can't hurt anyone else. And then it comes at you. You shoot it in self defense even though it was not the same pitbull attacking other people in the neighborhood. Now everyone wants you dead for shooting this dog because the dog's owners claim it never hurt anybody. Does that sound like justice? It's the same scenario with this kid! Peoples homes in the gated community were getting broke into by young black males, Zimmerman sees a young hooded black male walking around in the gated community in the middle of the night. He decided to confront him before any innocent person in the neighborhood could get hurt or robbed. Zimmerman confronts him and then is attacked so Zimmerman shoots him in self defense. And I'm not being racist by comparing a black male to a pitbull. I'm simply comparing a dog that is responsible for most attacks to the race that is most responsible for crime.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Monica

      You are using a comparison of a human life with one of a dog?!?! Are you SERIOUS?! This is insane! So because a burglar was identified as African American man, it is OK to assume that when you see any African American man he is the perpetrator??!?

      WOW...ignorance IS Bliss!

      March 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      But you left out that...oh nevermind......

      March 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. HAWAII

    Well, martin Was on suspension from school when this happened. (and yet not grounded from hoodie walks for skittles)

    I don't think you have to twist black arms to get them out of the boxing ring war zones they call school.
    Or that it will matter either way if they go or not.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • HAWAII

      I am being sarcastic re the state of the schools. Where I am is poor -parents and students give no effort, but blame everyone else. Some moms take their kids to the library -FREE, imagine that -and no one makes them do this. Others let them run wild, little ones glued to the idiot box 24/7. Gee I wonder which ones succeed later? and I wonder which one is to blame either way.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gruber

    ....Still tryin to figure out what you're talking about.....

    March 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. deakon80

    If this was a black guy who shot a white kid would it be considered news by our media?

    March 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      NO! Because the black guy would ALREADY be dead or IN JAIL.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Re: Jason Scott

      Deakon80, it would not be news because that black person who have been arrested immediately!! Period!! The posted are so stupid. Do you think at all!!!

      March 24, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jason scott

    Look at the soldier who killed all the people in afghanistan. Are the black people mad at that? Nope. Because it didnt involve a black. If It involved a black they would be mad

    March 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      Whatever point you were trying to make....you failed miserably.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nynnc

    I think Zimmerman wanted to be a hero and things got out of hand, some of the 911 callers were saying the guy in the white shirt (Zimmerman) was on top of someone, so sounds like he had it under control at some point after the scuffle, it's a sad situation all around !

    March 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. perpetuation

    "Why is it that hatred for Italians, the Irish, Asians and every other Race, (except Muslims and ILLEGAL Hispanics) has all but disappeared, yet hatred for Blacks is as strong as ever ??"
    Well when you perpetuate negative characteristics to people (i.e. illegal hispanics, instead of just hispanics) it's not hard to see why things really haven't changed. Instead of asking the question to the board, you should've asked the question to yourself.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
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