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Obama: ‘Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago’

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By Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON – “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” President Obama said Friday, discussing the death of a black teenager and the acquittal of his shooter as he offered some of his most personal and extensive remarks on race since he became president.

Making a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama reflected on his own experience with bias and racial profiling, and sought to explain why the African American community was outraged over the case.

“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me,” Obama said. “And there are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.”

African Americans see the country’s history of violence and discrimination against blacks as being ignored, he said, “and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”

PHOTOS: George Zimmerman trial verdict protests

The president said he accepted the Florida jury’s verdict acquitting George Zimmerman on murder and manslaughter charges. “The juries were properly instructed that, in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works,” Obama said, adding that he sought only to add context to the conversation about the case.

The president, however dismissed politicians who try to lead national conversations on race. Obama said the White House was considering several federal responses, including a review of so-called “stand your ground” laws and initiatives aimed at supporting young, black men.

“And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these ‘stand your ground’ laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?”

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15 comments

    • Skip

      What? And let the Republicans destroy the economy even more than the last time??? How's your Washington Mutual stock doing these days?

      • Skipisanidiot

        So your Washington Mutual Stock is more important to you than having a president who isn't devisive and ashamed of our country? Skip are YOU that dumb? Also, why don't you blame the congress that was in control of the money during the last two years of Bush admin. During Bush, it was dumbocrats; during Clinton it was Republican controlled….Go figure. Who was a member of congress during Bush years? Hmmmmm

        • Skip

          Obviously, you don't know anything. During the Bush years people lost their life savings due to the free-for-all atmosphere on Wall St., lack of banking regulations and the stupid Iraq war. The country is bankrupt because of the the Republicans. Yes, a lifetime of investing and saving is important to retired people you dumb ass. The Republicans ruined the future for millions of US citizens. The tea party and Sarah are idiots.

  • RKS

    So 35 years ago Barry was a wanna be gang banger running around bashing peoples heads into the pavement? Is that what he's saying here?

  • Matt

    Amazing. Now we see king obamas bias and ideology come out. But let’s see him explain how a tiny kid of 12 gets shot in the back and how Zimmerman had so manny extensive wounds to the back of his head. . I get that race is an issue adter all a Cuban shot an African American and its the white mans fault.

  • what ever

    Way to go and throw gasoline on the fire obama you sack of …………..why hasnt the impeachment process began yet ? we have enough reasons! BENGAZI ! ALL THE LIES AND LETS NOT FORGET THE PATRIOT ACT < THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH ALONE, and you all elected this man………how does it feel to have the dog bite your hand as you feed it…..?

    • Boris

      Woof woof Don't forget the Sept 11 2001 WTC attack was an inside job planned by VP Cheney and little green men from Saudi Arabia. Ha ha ha