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.

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Filed under: Florida • Trayvon Martin
soundoff (461 Responses)
  1. Jason scott

    Yes i can and do say it without friends around. You obviously dont know the meaning of a redneck. Your obviously white trash. Im 6'3 330 lbs n not fat and hold myself very well.

    March 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      why did you feel the need to mention you are not fat?

      March 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason scott

    Some of yall white people sit on here and talk crap bout this n that. When in reality you are completly scared of black people. In your own lives you have nothing to do withthem. Behind closed doors you talk about them them like they are dogs. But online and around other people where a black can be present you get scared and talk another way

    March 23, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tee

      You made your bed now you don't want to lay in it

      March 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Jason Scott,

      By far that is the most stereotypical thing I have yet to hear a bigot on this site mutter. Just because you are a minority does not give you the right to stereotype and discriminate against others. I roomed with 3 black students my entire time in college. Two of my best friends are African-American and yet oh no...I am Caucasian. It is amazing how you truly believe that it is perfectly correct for you to judge people due to their skin color while crying 'foul' when the same is done to you.

      March 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • H8TR

      Nope you're wrong, I'm equally discerning when in public. Here we go again with all of this black/white crap. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. The only racism in this country is brought on by "minorities" or those that chose to call themselves "african-americans" or "hispanic americans" or "insert-race-here Americans" don't hear white people walking around calling themselves "white americans or caucasian americans". We are all Americans and when you create the separatism, you're part of the problem.
      If you can't call yourself an American without bringing up race, then get out. Go where you think you need to go to make yourself feel like a better person if it's so bad here and you've "suffered". Heck, 98% of the current population in the USA doesn't know what suffering is. And there's not a "slave" alive anymore so that excuse can bury itself.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      Oh please, how many white friends do you have over for dinner each week? Hello pot, kettle is calling....

      March 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Theresa

      I am a white person,that was born in the 60's and had grandparents that said things that blew my mind around children. I had a mother that raised me not to judges people by there skin color. Bad people come in all colors. Your comment was to white people,but there are people like that in every race. My bestfriend is hispanic and her parent are the most racist people I know. They HATE anyone who is not hispanic. Not all white people are racist and there are black people that are.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lenny page

    How is everyone tonight

    March 23, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. High Hopes

    The Truth be Told


    March 24, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. forthetruth

    For God’s sake, I want to see Zimmerman’s pictures when he was 4 months old and 12 years old, and Trayvon’s picture when he was 17! And I would like to know if any of them has criminal record. Without knowing the true facts, we are playing emotional politics only. A total waste of our precious time! Media’s way! And by the way, I am not racist!

    March 24, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. thanks CNN, Sharpton, etc.

    We always appreciate it when you specify that it was an American child. tyvm. Many people can't get their minds off of what color stuff is these days.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • tuparletrop

      Yes don't fool howself the color Black is Bold, Boss and Beautiful in my mind but .Beast and too Brave and makes Bounty hunter shivers ...... what AM I TALKING ABOUT......WHAT I KNOW FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS. They love black boys for their hinding xesual desires..back side for free.It could also be a control issue ...Kill all black intelligent ,college potential kidS for the next fight 3-4 years job hunt........ May I Extend my sorrow and greif to the wounded for their losss Trayvon Martin's familly specially his mother my sister in Christ..

      March 27, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. B e a r c a t

    just like the million man march no one missed work. Do you actually think the smart kids walked out of class the ones who will graduate and become successful?? just the future hoods and dealers and street walkers walked out of class.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. kim

    Is the messages that black people will not get justice with the current system it is not for us so we should form our own justice and get satisfaction that way. It seems that same nasty racism is trying to dismiss the fact that a innocent child was murder and trying to pretend its no big deal because of some color well maybe we need to just fight back and stand our ground against this racist systems because 911 is a joke.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Theresa

      If you think that there is JUSTICE in our court system you need to go sit in a courtroom. I has a victim of a assault and armed robbery. I am white and the 2 people that tryed to kill me was also whit. After they admitted to it to the police they where released on bail. After 5 years of threats and court dates one of them got 12 years.They spent 68 days in jail and was released. The other one never spent a night in jail. My medical cost that they are responsible for is over $468,000. There is no justice here .

      March 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jake

    Really love how all the comments are about "Trayvon" and "Zimmerman.". One is a first name, the other is a last name. Almost every comment. Speaks volumes, doesn't it?

    And a 17 year old is not a "child". Many 17 year olds are criminals in the news every day.

    March 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dott

    Right!!! Some excuse it better than none! Why don't white people do this when blacks kill a white person? Don't get it!

    March 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      They do. Do you not live in this planet?

      March 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • jm

      right on...

      March 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • jm

      so the prisons are full of black people, according to al sharpton, DUH, , could it be because they are criminals..there are a few that are innocent (of all races) but the majority are Guilty...this guy is nuts...

      March 25, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dott

    Why couldn't the kid said "all right man I am on my way." No Problem Man. Instead he posed a threat to the community patrol officer. So the rest is history and a young man is dead and another man is sick about what happened. He was not taught well which would have been just walk away. That is what my parents taught me – and that is what I always did and I am still here.

    March 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      Oh, I see, it's now the parents fault? Well, better than blaming the kid for not answering to a "noone" with a gun, or not hearing him or this or that? So your parents tought you different? it seems, maybe not so well if you can't see how WRONG THIS IS!

      March 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Phu

    God bless America!
    God bless the families are being affected by horrible killing.

    March 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. miles7Armyvet

    I felt how scared Trayvon must of felt when i landed in Iraq and first encountered an Iraq carrying an AK47...nervous,frightened,cornered...but in my case i was well trained and not alone i had my buddies fingers on all triggers ready!!! Zimmerman has been practicing his HERO part for a long time... In the mirror over and over again and again what would happen if he was approached by a Perp...He probably already had his weapon drawn out behind his back like all police officers do when they going to make an arrest from a fugitive, Trayvon already nervous thinking he was aboout to get jacked did what any teenager would do when there is no way out or any where to run he went for the gun so he could save his own life Zimmerman now thinking he was in his right to defend himself shot and killed Trayvon "that is y he calls it self-defense...he thought he was going to get honored at City hall,a parade hits on t.v shows but all he has gotten was the truth that he is indeed a murderer...3 things can happen now Zimmerman gets charged by PD....2 his guilt allows himself to give in and admit he shot with intensions of killing...or 3. he options to do a Judas....i hope for his sakes he becomes a real hero and turns himself in!!!

    March 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. leeintulsa

    this country was built on protest, and i really doubt some of our forefathers wanted it to last this long. some of them thought periodic revolutions were necessary to stay free.

    that being said, all you people who complain about no one protesting when white people get killed. you are white, right? why would you ask others why you don't protest when a white person gets killed? don't you know? you are the ones not protesting..

    March 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Southridge Students Poor Judgement

    What this article fails to tell is that about 100 + Southridge Students left the school grounds and went to Southland Mall a few blocks up the street and ran through stores knocking over things and breaking merchandise. They were screaming and making shoppers and employees afraid. I was there and not once did I hear Trayvon Martin's name. Just a bunch of loud unruly teenagers using this poor childs death as an excuse to commit crimes

    March 26, 2012 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
    • tuparletrop

      Yes it was wrong it was also their expression of anger directed at the wrong person or group of persons .
      This kids fell under attack and when this feeling get to you, unless that you are grounded in some Biblical chain like I WAS AS A KID your reaction will project savegery .............PLEASE UNDERSTAND THEIR PAIN.

      March 27, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
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