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. CM

    Race baiting, class warfare, Democrats this is what they do.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • AdamtheDude

      Are you KIDDING me? Sorry, my friend, but YOU (and people like you) are exactly why this country is going down the toilet. I honestly believe you and others like you should re-located to Iran or Pakistan, where you will find a majority of like-minded individuals.

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

      wow. can you provide us with any more sound bites? you've learned your lessons well. throw out a few key words as though they make some kind of valid argument and call it a day.

      well done laddie. yours is a singular mind.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      @CM. Can you say "Willie Horton"? Can you say "Southern Strategy"? Try an internet search. Proven, historical FACTS – not your lame excuse of an opinion. Proven facts that Republicans have – and continue – to use race to try to win votes. Hpw about the hysteria from Fox sol-called News about voter suppression by the New Black Panther Party? Which was investigated and dismissed by the BUSH (yes – the George W. Bush) administration. Again – another FACT! All I hear from Republicans is lie after lie – following the advice of that great propagandist – Goebbels advice: If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

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

    The President merely answered a question. He did not hold a special press conference or attempt to divert any attention away from whatever anyone else perceives to be a more important tragedy. A reporter asked him to make a statement and he replied. continue to hate him as you wish!

    March 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      @Rational American – Thank you for stating the FACTS! I am so glad there are more people like me out there – people that believe in starting with the FACTS, then state your opinion.

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

    I'm looking forward to hearing about the retaliation carried out against whites in the coming weeks, as payback for the slaying of a black youth by a nutty Hispanic man with a mixed racial (Hispanic/White/Black) circle of family and friends.

    Keep that white racism narrative going folks. It can't happen without your help.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mississippi Mama

      Seems to me Mr. Blow, your post is part of the reason this situation could easily get out of control. Nobody is
      talking or thinking about retaliation because it could have happened to anybody's kids. I deal with the public on
      a daily basis, most of which are white and I have YET to talk to a single one who doesn't think this was wrong.
      Please don't add insult to injury by suggesting violence when there is NO reason to. Gabby Gifford was shot
      in the head by the same type of nutty individual.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CM

    So this is an hispanic man who shot him, for the last two days all I've been hearing about is how the white man shot the black man. Liberal media jumping the gun, excuse the pun.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      Hispanic is not a race. Duh!!! That is like saying Francophone is a race.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dan

    that's smart, walk out of school, then one day you will be looking down a gun barrel. Idiots

    March 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mississippi Mama

      Dan; I understand your post and you may have a valid point. but why do you have to call them idiots? If these kids want to express their emotions there should not be people out there calling them names to make a point. Besides It takes one to know one!

      March 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      @Dan 0 that's right – our children should just be good little sheep and should not stand up for their rights not to be shot because of racial profiling and because we stupidly let vigilantes walk around with a gun and murder whoever they like as long as there isn't a witness. I think they are the smarts ones – you, not so much.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Reality

    Just because the guy is hispanic doesn't mean he can't be racist. Come to Cyrstal City, TX. You will see racist hispanics in mass. Viva la Raza!

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

    @DSBsky....YOU PEOPLE ON HERE ARE UNBELIEVABLE....and missing the POINT....Why would we want to march for someone WHITE....your people don't even MARCH for themselves....and where were all you WHITE people when Casey Anthony got off....WHY DIDN'T YOU PEOPLE MARCH FOR YOUR OWN.....DIRT....because that is not what you there again....who is racist....I bet if the KKK held a rally would you be there....chanting....WHITE POWER

    March 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      There was plenty of outrage when Casey Anthony walked. At the same time, we respect the legal system which found that there was not enough evidence to convict her. We do not respond by rioting or civil disorder. We respond by tightening laws and doing something PRODUCTIVE. Do the same.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Graced

    As for you No Justice in America – you're just batchit crazy I think.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brad williams

    K K K. Is getting ready to organize and march again

    March 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CM

    We are all working because someone has to pay the tax bills

    March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rob Toft

    And I'm tired of hearing the threat of a race war.If blacks really want it...come get some.I can assure you we aren't like the liberal depictions you see on TV.The problem with blacks is that they're legends in their own minds.You're the 2nd stringer who talks the loudest but hasn't even stepped on the field or accomplished anything.I hate to tell you this, but most of us don't fear you like you think we do.We have much more to lose, so we're often forced to concede.Keep touching the sleeping giant.We don't have the history that we have because white people are soft.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brad williams

    Our president is a big fat liar. If anything happens to a white young adult or child he doesnt make any comments on tv about it

    March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • MITPhD

      @Brad Williams. How about some FACTS we can check? What exactly did our President say that you believe to be untrue? And where are your references to back up your assertion it is not true? Without these we should believe you why? Or you are just being a ditto head and repeating what you heard mindlessly?

      March 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CM

    I didn't say anything about the fact that hispanics can't be racists. It just seems to me that everyone loves crucifying the white man in this country.

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

    @DSBsky...first learn how to spell...his name is TRAYVON say it with me....T R A Y V O N M A R T I second....he never was discovered on top of him beating nobody...he was discovered on his face say.....DEAD.....D E A D....AND third....why are you so angry and what does this issue any matter to you....instead of spending this time writing hateful comments that you clearly don't know...pull up SYLVAN LEARNING and sign up to take a class for spelling....come on say.....SPELLING....S P E L L I N G....

    March 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gruber

      Thats funny. (LOL)!!...but I think you're wasting your breath trying to teach the unteachable. Some people will never accept the very real fact the racism is as real as it gets. AND that they themselves perpetrate (sp?) or benifit from it one way or another either by ignorance or outright callousness. Some actually think its a joke, like DSBsky and greg abd that other fool ..malcom whatever.

      March 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J K

    Ask your RICH counterparts.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
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