Obama Weighs In on Trayvon Martin "Tragedy"

The president speaks for the first time about the case of unarmed Black teenager who was shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.

Posted: 03/23/2012 11:34 AM EDT

President Obama weighed in for the first time on the Trayvon Martin case, speaking in measured but compassionate terms about the need for answers in the killing of the 17-year-old Black student.

 

"My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin: If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon,” the president said, speaking in the White House Rose Garden.

 

“Obviously, this is a tragedy,” Obama said. “I can only imagine what these parents are going through. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.”

 

He said Martin's parents “are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness that it deserves, and we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

 

In the last few days there has been growing discussion among civil rights activists and on the internet about the president not having made any statement regarding the killing in Florida of the unarmed 17 year old.

 

Some have pointed out the speed with which he called to encourage a Georgetown University law student after she was attacked on air by Rush Limbaugh for advocating on behalf of the need for insurance coverage for contraception.

 

The president seemed to be taking on such criticisms in his remarks. “I’m the head of the executive branch and the attorney general reports to me,” he said. “So I have to be careful about my statements to make sure that we're not impairing any investigation that's taking place right now.”

 

The president added: “I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.”

 

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