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. ObamaMuppet

    How did Obama feel about the white kid in Missouri who was doused with gasoline and set on fire by two black thugs two weeks ago ?

    March 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela Kim

      Wow..I didn't hear about that. So sorry to hear. I hope they are being charged?

      March 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • MsKira

      He didn't have to say anything They are charged and locked up UNLIKE Zimmerman... who also happened to be an ADULT.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      Can't talk about that. They should have put their white hoodies on and marched in the streets

      March 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sender

      wow good call on that one. yeah, will there be a march for this boy
      double standard
      ps im not white

      March 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |

      Let's not even try that...those two boys WERE ARRESTED AND CHARGED and will have to face the now what's your point.....

      March 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • PEACE BE STILL do you think he feels....he has compassion by the way...and those two boys WERE ARRESTED AND that's the point....UNBELIEVABLE

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

      That's not news worthy. Because there is NEVER any "black outrage" when they kill a White or a Latino person. PS: For the millionth time. Zimmerman is Latino..
      People creaming "lynch him" and they don't even know the guys skin color. Such racists..
      You wanted it to be a white guy who did it.. Makes me sick.. YOU'RE the real racists..

      March 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • guesswho

      The cops are actually actively looking for the "suspects" in that case... While in South Florida the "admitted" killer runs free...i

      March 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      I would imagine he didn't care for it.

      Idi ot

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

      OKAY, I'll say this again: Obama was ASKED about this case while giving a press conference about ANOTHER much? Why don't YOU ask him at the next press conference YOU attend, you GD moron, ObamaMuppet!

      March 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Greg

    while the killing of Trayvon is a tragedy, it is interesting that the President can divert the nations attention away from the greater tragedies resulting from our nations inappropriate involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    How does the President dodge his responsibility for thousands of deaths, pain and suffering and divert attention to a single act?

    March 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • WOW

      Yeah, because Obama was the one that started those wars in Iraq and afghanistan, I forgot!!! but at least he was THE ONE who got Bin Laden in the end....give me a break!!!

      March 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • PEACE BE STILL can a tragedy be greater...all tragedies are BAD..there are none better or worst then the other...a dead child is a dead child...a dead person is a dead person....neither are coming back....The President did not hold a news conference especially to address TRAYVON MARTIN'S TRAGEDY....he was asked a question and do understand how that works right.....UNBELIEVABLE

      March 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sigh

      HE was asked about it, and he answered...are you that stupid??

      March 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MalcolmXcrement


    Education is a waste on these thugs to begin with.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. renegade

    Anything to shift the focus off his ineptness I suppose.Obama is the worst president.Ever!!!!!

    March 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sigh

      Apparently you do not know how to read. He was asked about this at a press conference he was giving on another subject! He answered it! ANYTHING to bash Obama, is that it? Even answering a question about a poor kid's death? Are you that idiotic? Wait...I answered my own question. Yes, you are!!!!!

      March 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. muhammad

    If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country." malcolm x

    March 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. muhammad

    I don't favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives peacefully. But I'm also a realist. The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people."
    malcolm "X"

    March 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      if that is your opinion, then you are racist

      March 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Angela Kim

    There's no reason why Zimmerman shouldn't be arrested.
    Off with his head!

    March 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sir Hugo Drax

    Left school in protest??....hmm that doesn't seem like such a good idea. "I'm soo upset so I choose to be stupid and not maximize my crappy governement education."

    March 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sagebrush Shorty

    Walked out of school? OK, keep them out.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. grilledcheese

    Obama is a racist piece of s t.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sigh

      And so are you, you little inconsequential nothing.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. muhammad

    "I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color."
    malcolm "X"

    March 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. muhammad

    "I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return the treatment."

    March 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |

    And just imagine we are trying to disarm Iran, Iraq, Syria and the likes of North Korea when America has more guns and death by guns per capita than the entire western world combined. I believe when the Founding Fathers wrote the second Amendment, it was intended to defend and protect the colonies, not to destroy it from within! I don't believe we have to worry a bit about al Qaeda destroying America because we are unraveling by the threats a little each and everyday because of blatand bigotry, racism, hate and cowardess! Let's face it, America is the dumbest country in the history of the world. What a stupid country!

    March 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sigh

      I hope you don't live here. If you do, leave immediately.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. J K

    FLORIDA needs to be BOYCOTT. Hit them in their pockets where it hurts. We are hurtting make them hurt too.


    March 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |

      Well, its not just Florida but the entire Jim Crow south because just about all the southern states have passed that new immigrant profiling law. Hispanics are being rounded up and blacks are being shot! And by the way, Zimmerman is not Hispanic but white or at least more white than Hispanic because Hispanics in America do NOT target blacks like this murdere. And Hispanic Americans are the best friends black America has ever had!

      March 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Graced

      Well that's a brilliant solution. You speak as though all of Florida is "in on this." Let me assure you, as a Floridian, you are as wrong as you can be. Are you going to boycott every state that has a few idiots for cops? You better move out of your own state and go live on a boat, because I guarantee you this situation could happen ANYWHERE. Take a look at all the Floridians standing up for this young black man and his family – understand that WE are the majority of Florida. Zimmerman and those racist cops are NOT. They will get what's coming to them; I'm envisioning federal charges at some point against them for covering this crime up.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sigh

      NJIA:Yeah, right...just ask Trayvon how good of a friend Zimmerman is.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scef

    I feel so sorry for this country, the ignorance, hatred, and racist views posted are astounding. Their violent hatred of a BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE will not allow them to empathize with the victim in this tragedy and has heightened their racial hatred. The fact that they will become a minority and economically below many people of color within their lifetime must really scare them. It reminds me of Rosewood, another FLA racial travesty. All whites are not racists and all black youths in hoodies are not thugs. It is easy to post your cowardly venom anonymously why not be honest and just don the white sheet sans the hood. Inner city BLACK MAN, father of 3.

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

      Are you high ? I keep hearing that whites willl be a minority and how strong you people are.Let me ask you this.When are you strong people going to create jobs ? How about invent something ? When are you strong people going to stop living off the backs of us soon to be " white minorities ?" Half of you people can't even get off the sofa.Get the F K outta here.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      @Scef I am a 52 year old white man, father of 2 teenage boys – both wear hoodies sometimes. I live in suburb of San Diego. And I could not agree with you more!!! These people are in a hysterical panic about a black man being President. AND – how any parent cannot be outraged about what happened to Trayvon is beyond me. He truly represents every American son – and what can happen if we allow vigilantes with guns, no training, and feeling that same irrational fear – to roam our streets. They will continue to murder our children. They must be stopped.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Bob

      14 people killed, 9 wounded in black on black violence just this past weekend in Chicago.

      Blacks have kiled each other to the tune of 10,000 plus since 1990.

      I think your rage might be a tad misplaced.

      Blacks are being etnically cleased from the southwest from the new hispanic arrivals.

      When whit-ey passes from the scene, do you really think your folks will be better off?

      March 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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