REPORTING FROM SANFORD, FLORIDA — By all accounts, the not-guilty verdict of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of their son Trayvon Martin proved devastating for Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. So bitter a development was the verdict that the mother and father of the dead teenager decided to leave Sanford soon after it was announced, retreating to their respective homes in the Miami area.
But with the passage of several days since the jury announced its decision, both parents are now described as being energized to continue to press for national dialogue about Trayvon Martin and to fight for actions and policies that help other young Americans avoid the fate of their son.
“They were very affected by the verdict, they were heartbroken," said Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the parents, in an interview with BET.com. "They cried and they prayed. But Sybrina is now saying how that it’s time for her to roll up her sleeves and to work harder to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child.”
“What Sybrina and Tracy are now saying over and over is that they will not let this verdict define Trayvon,” Crump said. “Our community will define Trayvon. Our actions will define Trayvon.”
Martin and Fulton have not spoken publicly since the verdict was read Saturday night in the Seminole County Courthouse here. In fact, they decided not to be present in the courtroom for the reading of the verdict. They left Sanford to attend worship services in Miami, Crump said, and to take a break from the media spotlight.
However, Crump said that both parents will have an active role in the March on Washington next month that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic event where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963.
“The organizers of the March have made it clear they they intend to make the case of Trayvon Martin a focal point for the event, which is Aug. 24,” Crump said. “And Sybrina and Tracy are calling for justice for Trayvon Martin and the unknown Trayvons.”
Crump indicated that the family was favorably disposed to the idea of a civil rights suit against Zimmerman, saying that no firm decisions had been made as yet.
“They are asking people to continue to protest peacefully and to ask the Department of Justice to do what they can in this matter,” Crump said. "They still want to fight for justice."
“If police officers are not allowed to profile citizens because of race, should a neighborhood watch volunteer be allowed to?“
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(Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images)