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. dressedforsucess

    Why is Jeb in all of this. This is his mess. He has time to endorse Milt but has not one time said anything about the law he signed into effect. This law need to be revised and QUICK before another person is shoot down in COLD BLOOD

    March 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bubba™

    Buy your kids revolvers? ?? LOL no need for that, they all already have them, and semi- autos too. 🙂

    March 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • tingle007

      The only real difference between a revolver and a semi auto is 4 bullets.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazyvermont

      people don't realize we're heading towards revolution and there is an element whipping up this frenzy. Rev Al would be screaming to high heaven if Limbaugh was saying what he's now saying on his TV Show

      March 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tingle007

    Implying kids wouldn't walk out of school to protest the bad mass effect ending. Anything that isn't math

    March 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Daveinil

    Students will "walk out" over anything to get out of school on a nice Friday afternoon.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. valwayne

    What purpose does walking out of school serve in this situation, except of course that students are mostly always happy to get out of school? Bet a bunch of them ended up at the arcade in a local mall.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • crusader12

      okay there, I bet you are some stupid gov't agent downplaying how stupid your bosses are acting. It's coming CIA, FBI, MOSSAD, you will all be held to justice for the new authoritarian reign you are trying to bring down upon us. Keep pushing, the harder you push the bloodier its going to be!

      March 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      The masses are stepping up.

      March 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • heero

      Arcade at the local mall?!?! You're definitely way over the hill. The last arcade I saw in a mall was about 15 years ago in Columbus, OH. They don't exist anymore!

      March 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. crusader12

    Zimmerman should be drawn and quatered on public TV. He, and all those protecting him are a disgrace to justice. How has America lost its way like this? The white man has a god-coomplex and its high time those who live on the streets of America took the streets back. This is an absolute disgrace!

    March 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Feet Balls

    Oh cool, another excuse to skip school.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. muhammad

    is zimmerman a gew'untouchable' looks like it.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • hehehe

      Yep just like muhammad is a bomb toting raghead....

      March 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 111!!!!ONEONEeleven

    We need more people like Zimmerman in neighborhood watch programs. I bet cars and houses would not get broke into huh.....

    March 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      And just how many innocent people will be killed?

      March 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |

      We need more people like Zimmerman? Perhaps one day you'd be wearing a black hoodie and another Zimmerman might give you it point blank! Some wishes do come through after all! You might be next!

      March 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. muhammad

    wwb-walking while black,is still a crime.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. muhammad

    we need more muhammad ali on the streets,2 punch and zimmer would be on the floor.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rico_suave

    So lets see. in florida its legal to harass an innocent person minding their own business, pick a fight with them, and then kill them in "self defense" when you start losing? awesome. i'm there.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 4justice

    It's shameful how much blatant racial stereotyping exists in this country. I have seen it in many states in the country including the most progressive counties in california. For e.g., I have seen a courtroom in san mateo county (i think the judge's name was susan greenberg) repeatedly being so kind to white defendants and extremely harsh on dark skinned defendants - clearly showing double standards, and I have seen the police officers in that county act biased as well, for e.g., if a white person complains against a dark skinned person, they assume the white person has to be right, and go after the dark skinned person, intimidate them into getting the "legally correct" statements they need. Shame on such pathetic racially bigot people who are easy to find all across america sadly even today. And, when a black kid gets murdered, they can't find grounds to lock up the guy. Shameful!

    March 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mable chambers

    This why we will never stop fighting until there is equal justice for all. This young man was killed because the color
    Of his skin. It's got to stop!

    March 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jennifer NYC

    I agree. He was killed simply because he was black and this guy should be in jail for murder.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • DSBsky

      I disagree. There is NO proof. He was seen on top of zimmerman beating him while zimmerman was screaming "help" Zimmermans face is bloody and beaten, which proves he was beaten "BEFORE" he shot Martin. Because you can't be beaten by a dead person.. This is looking like martin followwed him "which he shouldn't have" Then Treyton attacked him for it.
      Martin started screaming for help but Treyton kept pounding him "like a very nice boy" After Marting screamed for help several times and blood started gushing from his face he started to fear for his life, so he reacted.. That's what it looks like REALLY happend. This is collaborated by the ACTUAL tapes and EYEwitness reports. Not hear say and racist biggots, looking for another reason to riot, steal and kill.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Graced

      Jennifer, you're so right. Absolute hate crime. I have so much respect for the mother reaching out to these students and reminding them to focus on their education. Walking out on classes does nothing for that young man or his family, it just creates a 'free skip' situation.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Go to Fox 35 Orlando and do a search on their website for "Man shot and killed in neighborhood altercation" if you want to hear an eyewitness interview. The eyewitness claims he saw something different form what is being reported on CNN. The police also have his testimony.

      He is the only eyewitness that called 911 (the other callers only heard what happened).

      March 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
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