TACOMA — Emotions ran high on both sides Friday in reaction to President’s Obama’s candid remarks about what it is like being an African American man in America.
Along Martin Luther King Way in Tacoma, protesters gathered late Friday to show support for Trayvon Martin — the black teen killed by George Zimmerman during a struggle in a Florida gated community. A Florida jury found Zimmerman innocent of murdering the unarmed Martin.
“I think about my daughter, and I think about the future. All Americans should think they are Trayvon,” said demonstrator Thomas McCarthy.
Protesters in Tacoma said the tragedy was bigger than just what happened one night in Florida; they said the black teen was racially profiled.
“We all have those experiences; that needs to stop,” said demonstrator Dennis Lucas.
Many on Friday called the president’s comments on Friday heartfelt and fair while others say he was out of line.
Lucas said it’s hard to find an African American man who has not experienced Obama’s tales of being watched at a department store or an elevator and in neighborhoods.
“It doesn’t matter how well you dress. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what neighborhood you are in,” said protester James McNeil.
McNeil applauded the president’s comments and said he hopes it will spark a nationwide conversation about racial profiling.
“It’s a good thing. For so long, if you mention race, people automatically think you are trying to make an excuse,” said McNeil.
“I am affected by the stereotypes that I am being bombarded with everyday; I have to check myself of my assumptions of people,” said protester Laurie Arnold.
Others say Martin’s death had nothing to do with race.
“All of this is fluff; they are building it to what it is not, it’s not about race, it’s a matter of right or wrong,” said Tacoma resident Dave Schnabel.
Schnabel said Obama shouldn’t be taking sides.
“The president does not need to get into this; he’s stirring the pot. It’s not right,” said Schnabel.
“The only good thing to come out of something like this is have some dialogue; it will be painful dialogue,” said Arnold.
Friday’s protest at People’s Park in Tacoma was relatively small compared to what is was expected to occur Saturday in Seattle.