President Obama Addresses The Zimmerman Verdict, Trayvon Martin, And Race

At about 1:30pm today, President Obama delivered an unannounced address on Trayvon Martin, the Zimmerman trial, and race in America. He spoke at length about the African-American community and the historical and contemporary perspective in which that community views the not guilty verdict. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” said Obama, later adding that most African-American males have experiences like the sound of car doors locking when walking across the street or a woman clutching her purse in an elevator. The president also said that Americans are aware of a “history of racial disparity in our criminal laws,” and that is good reason for government to review Florida’s “stand your ground” law and other state and local laws.

I think it’s safe to say this was President Obama’s most heartfelt and bold statement of his presidency on the topic of race in America, or any presidency for that matter.

Obama also asked if Trayvon Martin was armed, “could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?” Would it have been justified for Martin to shoot Zimmerman in self-defense? I like that the president asked this question, because I think it makes people look at this case in a different way. Why is it that George Zimmerman is the one seen as defending himself, at least in the eyes of the jury and many on the Right in this country? Is it because he had a gun? Is it because he’s not black? Is it because Trayvon Martin WAS black?

Nobody knows exactly what happened that night after Zimmerman left his car, and because of that, the jury was probably correct in it’s not guilty verdict on second degree murder. But we know Zimmerman pursued Martin. We know Zimmerman was armed. We know Martin was unarmed. We know Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. Regardless of how the altercation escalated, the details of which we can never know for sure, Zimmerman is still culpable. I don’t believe it was premeditated, but because Zimmerman’s choice to leave his car and pursue Martin is what led to Martin’s death, that means Zimmerman deserves some level of blame. I’m not a legal expert, I don’t know if manslaughter is the right charge, but the jury did find him not guilty of that charge as well. I realize life isn’t fair and the judicial system is imperfect, but I also recognize the injustice of this verdict.

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  • Steve

    Sounds interesting. Any idea where we can see a video of him giving the full speech? I just checked a bunch of news sites (msnbc, cbs, abc, cnn, etc.), and every one has a text write-up about it, but CNN and MSNBC were the only ones with video, but they only had a 2-3 minute clip of part of it for some reason. WTF?! Do these sites not realize that they’re on the internet in the 21st century? I don’t go to the site to read what one of their writers thought would make a good summary – I go to see it for myself. If I want a summary/commentary then I can visit the Left Call. 😉

    • It was interesting and you knew you were watching something different, even a bit historic, as far as presidential media addresses go. Maybe check YouTube. Many times that’s the best way to find complete videos instead of short excerpts. I’d imagine this address has gotten enough attention that somebody has posted it by now. If so, I can add it to the bottom of this article.

      • Steve

        Finally got around to watching the full speech. It’s about 15 minutes long, and worth checking out. Especially since he elaborates on a lot of the topics that critics complain about regarding race in this case and context. I think most critics just simply didn’t bother watching the full speech. You can view it all here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHBdZWbncXI

        • Thanks for sharing. I agree, if you have a problem with Obama’s remarks on race, you’re not listening or you’re hearing what you want to hear, confined by your prejudice.