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.

Post by: ,
Filed under: Florida • Trayvon Martin
soundoff (461 Responses)
  1. Danie15

    Fry that racist !!!! so ashamed to have people like that in my country. Poor kid went out for skittles and ice tea. never came back to see his familty again. So sad

    March 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason scott

    Good. Dont forget my name. JASON SCOTT

    March 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bobby

    I don't want you people in my neighborhood watch. You see a suspicious looking person roaming the neighborhood after several people had been robbed by similar looking individuals and you do nothing!

    March 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. alice

    The simple fact is that Zimmerman had no right to shoot him, he followed him it is so revealed on the 911 tapes. Zimmerman is NOT WHITE he is HISPANIC Get it right for goodness sake. As for the boy being killed a tragedy shouldn't have happened. But it happens all to often to white, black hispanic etc.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason scott


      March 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • wavejump1100

      why is it whenever someone is half white and half something else they are considered something else.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Thanks Mr. President, now that you have failed to remain impartial, there is no way Zimmerman can get a fair trial anywhere in the U.S. You have helped pave the way for a mistrial.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      I agree. I see allot of people going off saying he wasn't being partial in the case but he was. And he knows it! The simple statement, "Trayvon could have been my son." echoed volumes more than what was actually said. He is the President of the United States of America. His words have allot of weight and he knew the significance of that statement.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Right-O

    I think I have read the last word from you. I am a white female and you OFFEND me with your inhumanity, insensitivity, ignorance, and utter condescension.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason scott

    Do you think your related to me?

    March 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • delicious

      Zimmerman is done. He's going to go to prison and be someone's boyfriend, at best.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Josh

    Can anyone tell me where I can listen to the whole 911 call? People keep saying you can hear Trayvon him scream for help and Zimmerman say a racial slur but I can only find the one that ends when Zimmerman starts to pursue him. I found some that have the neighbors calling 911 but still can't hear the fight or screams or anything. Also, where can I find the call between Trayvon and his friend. I didn't hear anything about them releasing that but everyone keeps saying that his friend told him to just walk fast and to get away from his pursuer. If there is no tape of that, then that means everyone is just taking her word for it. And after the trash talk you gave some posts for not listening to the 911 calls, that's just hypocrisy to its core.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes


      Trayvon Martin Zimmerman 911


      March 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MarkMN

    We keep hearing about GZ being afraid for his life. What about TM? His friend on the phone seems to indicate that he knew he was being followed. Did TM see GZ's gun? Was TM afraid for his life and thought he had to act to defend himself? Was he merely standing his ground? Did GZ identify himself in anyway as a neighborhood patrol? There are a lot of unanswered questions and I cannot figure out why no one has the answers.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cole

      I wouldn't just trust what the friend said. I doubt he would admit that his friend was the aggressor if he was. Not saying he was, I don't know what really happened. It just seems like everyone is going off what others are saying instead of the actual part of the 911 call you can hear and witness testimony.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ray

    I honestly believe that Zimmerman should have been arrested and let him present his self defense case at his trial. Now, however, there is no way he would receive a fair trial. The case is now too high profile and everyone has already formed their opinions on it. If the parents of Trayvon were truly seeking justice instead of publicity, they would have went above the police department to a higher authority like the state police or such. This is done all of the time when family and/or friends doubt the competence of their local police. Though you have to stop and think, if he were racially murdering a black kid like everyone is saying, then why did he pace back and forth by the body after the shooting as witnesses state? They stated he was acting like "What did I just do?" and that doesn't sync with someone who wanted to kill a black kid. You didn't see the racists killers in Mississippi show any concern for murdering a black guy. I don't believe Zimmerman was right in shooting Trayvon but I don't believe it was a racial murder like Trayvon's parents are trying to hype up the story to be. It's very sad. Trayvon's parents seem to be enjoying the fame more than moarning their son.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @ray: i'm sure many people fantasize about killing someone. and i'd imagine for most of them that do, the gravity of killing someone quickly wipes away the fantasy. he should have thought "what am i gonna do". then he might not have had to worry about "what did i do"

      March 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. High Hopes

    For a while it was dead silent just him,
    ranting on and on. His really nasty posts
    have been deleted. There are some
    ignorant people in the South and, man,
    can they talk sh!t!


    March 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jason scott

    In america you can own guns. Its not against the law. "high hopes". All my weapons are registered and licensed. The way they are suppose to be. Thats the problem with whimpy white people. They are scared to bear arms. I always buy a gun when a new one comes out or see one i like. Its people like us who will be protecting the country one day. No law enforcement agency can stop me from buying them unless a was a convicted felon and im not that. Read and study your laws before you speak something you know nothing about

    March 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • yep

      im with you

      March 25, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. leeintulsa

    @jason: what does scared have to do with it? i think it's more an issue of class, which you clearly lack.. are you brave enough to not say it while your redneck buddies do? doubt it..

    March 23, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ashley noran

    How is everyone

    March 23, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. leeintulsa

    @jason: you are right about one thing.. they aren't all black. you're not black..

    March 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16