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. Ohyeahright

    Why don't you go back to England? This country will be a lot more cleaner then.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. High Hopes

    Go spew your hatred elsewhere. You've
    already cleaned the place out... pretty soon
    it will just be you.

    Jason Scott, a name one won't forget.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @high hopes: i will. most likely before the evening's over.. wonder if there's any relation to Great Scott..

      March 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes

      Hey Lee!

      😀

      What a nut he is! The way he was throwing
      the n word around talking about all his guns,
      I was hoping his conversation, mostly to
      himself, was being monitored by ATF or the
      FBI...

      The guy went nuts... and I'm not talkin'
      'bout that kind!

      😉

      March 23, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason scott

    White. Power

    March 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Average Joe

    Zimmerman stated he screamed for help but Trayvon's parents say it was Trayvon who was screaming for help. So they heard their son scream for help but did nothing? I doubt it! Trayvon's parents are manipulating the story to gain more sympathy for their kid and inflame racial tensions to their benefit. Now everyone is jumping on the race card bandwagon, even Barack Obama. President Obama jumping aboard the race card bandwagon is one of the worst events to happen since the tragedy took place. He is suppose to be fluent in the law, having been a lawyer, and should know to look at the facts and evidence before making a judgement. He is just trying to get votes off this tragedy which I find truly pathetic and inexcusable. As for his comment that his son could have been Trayvon Martin, I would hope he would raise his children better than that. Trayvon did take off running like a guilty person would instead of telling Zimmerman who he was and which house he stayed at like an innocent person would do. Of course, the parents are purposely leaving out that it was Trayvon's dad's girlfriend that lived in the gated community and that he was not known to the neighborhood. I do sympathize with the pain they are feeling but that sympathy is going away fast the more the parents lie and omit the parts of the story that doesn't leave their son in the best light.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      There was a 6 year old in Chicago killed in a drive by where is the outrage. This just shows that blacks will never want fair justice. Obama sealed the fate on a fair trial for Zimmerman whether he's guilty or not, he will be crucified.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes

      Have YOU heard the tapes?

      The parents did and they should be
      able to recognize their own son...

      But, just to make sure the F.B.I. is doing
      a voice analysis.

      😀

      Nice Try...

      March 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jhlubeck

      Average Joe is the average liar. He makes up facts and presents them to create his own story. You will get some racist morons to go along with you, but even they know that you are a liar.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • martin

      ??? what judgment did obama make. he merely empathized with the parents and said the event should be investigated, a feeling that probably 95 percent of americans have.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Jones

      Joe. I agree that the parents of Martin are being needlessly rosy about the image of their son, but then again Zimmerman and the police are being needlessly vague and dishonest about what happened that night. The parents have a right to know the truth and have their day in court. The simple is fact that Martin was seventeen, unarmed, not breaking any laws, not known to be a troublemaker, and that if on that fateful night if Zimmerman would have just minded his own business Martin would still be alive.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • YeaRight...

      Sooo, if someone was following you with a gun, would you have calmly stopped and told the man where you lived and who you were? I doubt it...

      March 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Right-O

      You don't understand to what they are referring when they say it was their son's cries for help. One of the 911 caller's phone call picked up Trayvon's voice yelling for help. I heard it. It does sound like a teenager, and not the sound of the man with a gun who obviously would not be yelling help WHEN HE HAS A GUN. And ironically, after the gunshot sounds, the cry for help stops. Why would Zimmerman not keep yelling HELP!?!?!!? I will tell you why. He shot him dead and did not care about receiving help for Trayvon. He needed time to make himself look bloody. Many callers said they saw a white tshirted guy straddling the one that was crying help. I am white and I am not biased. When I first read about this tragedy a week ago, I knew that Zimmerman was an overzealous armed Rambo looking for someone to shoot. Zimmerman was not yelling for help. Period. His gun was his "help".

      March 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Right-O

      @AverageJoe
      Who cares if it was Trayvon's Dad's girlfriend's house. This is AMERICA. TRAYVON's rights were violated. He can/could walk anywhere he wanted!!!!!!!! I don't know everyone in my neighborhood. If a black dude is walking around here I don't assume he is dangerous because he is black. I am a white woman. I do take precautions when it is late and I am alone if I see ANY color man, but I would not follow them with a gun and SHOOT THEM!!!!!!!!!!! DUH.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ashley

    I feel sorry for some of. If you think thay yoing man should have been killed and George Zimmerman was just in his actions then I pray that you or your children are never victims of violence,racism,harassment or bullying. As for black people blowing things out of porportion, you should realize that most have been, will be or are victims of racial stereotyping or profiling at some point in their life. So yes, its a big problem that therr is a lack of trust in the justice system and government. That man attacked Travon. If someone followed you and then began screaming or yelling at you, you too would run if you were a child. But then again perhaps not since some of you posted that following someone isnt a crime. Yet we forget stalking is a crime and the police told George Zimmerman not to follow him. I guess it doesnt matter to you though because its not your child dead because an overzealous idiot shot him prematurely and ended his life.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jacob

    I'm going to wait for all the facts to come out before I can make an opinion. Too much of the story has changed since it was reported. 1st Trayvon, in the gated community, was on his way to his girlfriend's house and then later changed to his dad's fiance's house. 1st it happened in the middle of the night and then during the day when Trayvon was suppose to be at school but was suspended. 1st Zimmerman was a security guard and then he is just part of the neighborhood watch. I wished there was more reliable and honest reporting and not just a bunch of blood thirsty reporters looking to make the most out of a juicy story.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Good point Jacob but he will never get a fair trial even if the evidence shows it happened exactly the way George said it happened. At worst George was carrying on a job he wasn't supposed to but he was legal to carry one.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Jones

      Dana.. That is not the worst. The worst is that he will be found guilty of murder. His right to carry a gun is almost completely irrelevant. I have the right to drive a car but that doesn't lesson the crime if I run someone down. I own two guns legally but that gives me no right to shoot my neighbor. Zimmerman had no legal right to stop, pursue, question, detain, or threaten Martin, NONE. At best he acted foolishly and his irrational and careless actions led to the death of an unarmed teenager.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. wavejump1100

    i was very disapointed to see obama get involved in this. all the facts are not out yet. plus its just not a presidential matter. i also dont understand why black people are just about rioting over this. people are murdered all the time. lots of whites are killed by blacks and vice versa. i guess since im not black i just dont get it.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. High Hopes

    @Dana:

    Truth is most white people don't have to
    fight for justice... its free for the taking.

    But I will tell you this. I blogged on a
    Website that was set up for a white girl
    who was missing and there were plenty
    of blacks doing the same.

    Another example: Caylee Anthony. There
    were thousands of blacks participating in her
    search and demanding justice for that child.

    Same for Haylee Cummings...

    You see what you want to see and ignore
    the rest.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      There are always an exceptions to the rules, I'm looking at this one. Air time for the parents, mobs, high schoolers walking out of classes, and the coups-da-gra obama. Truth is not an option here.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert

    If Zimmerman is arrested and found guilty by the court, then every nationality should protest and riot. If Zimmerman is arrested, then Florida will have ignored its own laws due to public pressure. That will be a precedent set for future cases where a state or the government ignores or enforces laws as they choose. If Zimmerman goes to trial and is found guilty, then he wasn't given a fair trial, again through public pressure. Our judicial system was founded on the premise that a man or woman is innocent until proven guilty and cannot be found guilty as long as there is reasonable doubt. There is no one (impartial person that is) that can find Zimmerman guilty without reasonable doubt; not with the facts that have been given. Only the people spreading the hate, racism propaganda would convict him and that also would not be a fair trial. Zimmerman being found guilty will be just a great a tragedy as OJ Simpson being found innocent. Public pressure and fear of the backlash from the black community is the only reason Simpson was found innocent and it will be the only reason why Zimmerman could be found guilty. That is not justice and it is up to us as citizens to speak out against it.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Jones

      Your comment is irrational and illogical. If he is tried and if the truth comes out that he murdered a young man then people of every race who honor right and wrong will agree with the verdict. Why do you assume he is innocent?

      March 23, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Robert it will be cheaper to find him guilty of murder than a lessor charge of involuntary manslaughter. Unless he goes to jail for life with no parole just the threat of a riot is is enough to tip the scales of justice. Mob Violence should always not be tolerated and should always be met with equal violence. Riot and you may have a chance of dying. I think blacks are deluding themselves into thinking this may be their Arab Spring.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bmhay1

      Robert...it is quite possible that Zimmerman was NOT within the law of "Stand Your Ground." There is plenty of evidence and witnesses to determine the truth, even though the victim is DEAD! That is what this law counts on in excusing those that kill.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patricksday

    Apparently the Mob rule has won where you can shoot anyone dead on your property and Florida has just enough wacko's that will do just that. Cowards shoot to kill.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason scott

      amen

      March 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Bet you wouldn't say that if someone bigger than you was attacking you.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bmhay1

    @Dana...I think Zimmerman cruicified himself, as did the Police by their inaction, which caused all the ruckus. People uprise and protest when nothing happens......had a proper investigation been done, this case would not be so national, and certainly not because Trayvon is black, but because the way it was handled, which by the way, just plain wasn't handled, just put the young man in a body bag, don't even check his cell phone to report his death to next of kin, and sweep it under the rug. Check the deceased for alcohol/drugs, but not the shooter who portrayed the most erratic behavior, and then don't charge him with the crime because they were afraid to write an affidavit and go against "Stand your Ground." Yes, as Gingrich indicated, Zimmerman pushed Trayvon into the ground. The investigation is finally underway! I understand what you say about Obama, but again Zimmerman crucified himself, he was far from standing his ground, per the law.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Bmhay1>>> I catch your drift, allot of ifs. Usually any other murder never requires the D.O.J or FBI or a special prosecutor. Seems only to matter if it happens white on black. I know dozens of killings of same that made HEADLINES for this reason. To many scapegoats, already the Police Chief, Obama didn't really help, it's the mob mentality that will convict George of the worst crime not justice. No justice for anyone.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Wayne

    Oh my god, you people are so ignorant and just flat stupid! Are you even reading the full stories and recognizing the facts!? Zimmerman didn't just go up to some random black kid and shoot him because he was black! The young black male was dressed just like the other young black males that robbed people in the neighborhood just recently and was visiting the neighborhood. None of the neighbors new him and I'm sure Zimmerman didn't either. Zimmerman was covered in blood and grass stains when the police arrived so Trayvon most likely attacked him. I don't believe Trayvon deserved to die but I also don't believe he was completely innocent in the incident. The basic fact of the matter is, this tragedy was not racially motivated. It was motivated by a good guy trying to prevent anymore of his neighbors from getting robbed.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason scott

      way to go wayne. I agree

      March 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Wayne wat a stupid comment imagine if one of ur kids wore a hoodie and got shot for protecting himself at night frm a mann folowing him.. surely youl shoot ur own self for ever making this comment..

      March 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes

      Wayne:

      Trayvon was on the bottom with Zimmerman on top.
      Trayvon died of a 9mm point blank shot to his
      chest... Zimmerman is going to be covered in
      blood!

      Justice for Trayvon!

      March 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob in York, PA

    People wih kids should stay away from Sanford, FL, there is a cold blooded child killer on the loose named Zimmerman.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Trevor

    Last time I checked a lot of whites are on welfare too.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jason scott

    Ibe always told my son if he saw someone who didnt belong in our neighborhood to run them out if he is able also. We live in a nice neighborhood and ill stand up just like all my neighbors will do the same and run all trash white or black out of our neighborhood if they dont live there or belong there. We keep a nice tight knot community and keep all of our homes and families safe by doing that and reporting any suspicious vehicles that drive through our community and have On occassions walked out with rifles in our arms when seeing cats of thugs white n black coming through looking for a house to break in. Needless to say they never returned. In almost 8 years we have not had 1 house broke into out Of over 137 homes in our community. We have 3 police officers who live in the community and they stand beside us and what we do. And we have kept peace there due to our diligance on keeping a good community safe

    March 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
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